Book Review – Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain

Kitchen Confidential

I love having enough time to read for hours. One of my favourite things to do on a beach holiday is to read (albeit before children) Now there are children in my life I am far pickier with my choice of book as I simply don’t have the time to waste. You may have heard of Anthony Bourdain? His fame is because of his books.

Anthony Bourdain is what I would say is a typical line cook. He loves the pressure his job puts him under and is no different from hundreds of other chefs during the 80’s that thrived on this form of adrenalin rush. These guys were often crude and often into drugs that helped either to get them through the pressure of the shift or to work at high pace for a number of hours. For some it may have been a means of finding that rush outside of work. Similar to doing a marathon race every night, with sweat pouring out of them and the meal tickets rolling in. You can see why some fall off the rails.

Why this book?

I started my working life in 5-star hotels. It is possibly one of the reasons why I love travel. I love hotels. Not any hotel but the grand old hotels of yesterday. The one’s that have stories to tell. Part of a hotel are the restaurants and the kitchens that service them. This busy environment gave me a comfortable living while I had the energy to keep up.

The book of choice

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly takes you into the world of a line cook in New York in what was one of the hottest restaurants at the time. It is not dissimilar from my start to work. I was of course not on that side of the kitchen but either as a waitperson or hoisting. Regardless, I dealt with temperamental chefs each and every day and this book describes characters that I worked with.

Bourdain is the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll of the food world that many readers were previously unaware of. His witty reflections of his working life are not only entertaining but will have you salivating for a decent steak.

The Author

Having finished Culinary School in 1978, it wasn’t until 2000 that Bourdain published his first book and changed his life as it was forever. Having dropped out of school and in need of a job he worked at a restaurant in Provincetown over the summer which sparked an interest in pursuing a career in food. He spent holidays in France as a child which taught him about the importance of fresh food as the key to any meal.

Bourdain has since become a popular ‘celebrity’ chef with several TV series starting in 2002. His second book took 10 years before it was published.

Why should you read it?

Bourdain is no nonsense and practical. He is never a tourist and yet he seeks out and finds the best food wherever he is. That could be a food truck on the side of the road or a flash restaurant. I kind of think he may have a form of ADHD and doesn’t have the attention span for fine dining. Foodie he is albeit breaking the mould for those before him. Before Bourdain food critics were all up their own backside and hooty tooty. Borudain brings everything down to the level of the common man. He is funny and intelligent and offers a perspective that is refreshing and honest. He is real.

In Summary

This book may not inspire you to travel as it is about working in a restaurant but it will inspire you to eat. Not just at haute cuisine but the simple dishes as well. Haute cuisine is not always the BEST dish when you are travelling. Taste real food as well.


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