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Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly (Insider's Edition)

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With handwritten footnotes and afterthoughts.


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With handwritten footnotes and afterthoughts.

30 review for Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly (Insider's Edition)

  1. 4 out of 5

    Roxane

    Excellent, vivid read about life in restaurant kitchens. Very atmospheric and I feel like I learned a lot about a very specific culture.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jacob

    My first exposure to Anthony Bourdain, via his show No Reservations, left me with with the sense of a true asshole who sneered down his nose with aging punk-rock disdain at people and things he deemed beneath him, and, honestly, it seemed like most people and things were beneath him. For some reason, even though he crossed my Southern sensibilities and turned me off to him on that first exposure, I kept watching the show and realized that there is a lot more to him than that first impression suggested. No Reservations i My first exposure to Anthony Bourdain, via his show No Reservations, left me with with the sense of a true asshole who sneered down his nose with aging punk-rock disdain at people and things he deemed beneath him, and, honestly, it seemed like most people and things were beneath him. For some reason, even though he crossed my Southern sensibilities and turned me off to him on that first exposure, I kept watching the show and realized that there is a lot more to him than that first impression suggested. No Reservations is now my favorite show and when I saw a copy of Kitchen Confidential for sale in the book store, I snapped it up and began reading it that night. I unfortunately wasn't able to keep his voice in my head (his delivery is a large part of the draw of his show for me) but the series of stories from his past that he lays out are captivating even when heard inside my skull as coming from the disembodied larynx of my standard reading voice. Personally, I didn't find the shocking bits all that shocking. I've been backstage at good restaurants. I've heard it all before. Honestly, I'm not really all that hung up on food safety. Instead it was the parts dealing with his own erratic career path that kept me interested. Instead of leaving this book with the impression that Bourdain was an even bigger jerk than my first impression left me with (as someone suggested would happen), I left the last page of the book with an even more positive view of the guy. Sure, Bourdain is still cynical, obscene, and wears that brusque New York attitude like a badge of honor, but what stands out in his book is his glowing admiration for people who earned his respect for their willingness to work or pushing him down the right path as a chef (his almost loving references to Bigfoot and Pino are prime examples), his seeming compulsion to take in less than desirable underlings, and his complete willingness to point out when and where he screwed up. In this more recent update, he even points out that he learned he was wrong about Emeril Lagasse (as a chef and person, not as a TV Celebrity) and frequently comments that he isn't a top-tier chef because of his own mistakes. He even goes so far as to point out that the only reason he is able to hang out with and talk to the Michelin-starred chefs he always admired from afar is because of his notoriety as author and TV host. This isn't some self-aggrandizing piece literary self-pleasuring. This is a very human piece of literature that reveals its author to be a man who may have grown up a couple of decades too late, but isn't too vain to admit that when he did it was in a large part because of those who took a chance on him and supported him when he was at his worse.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ratscats

    I love food and I love hot sexy chefs with potty mouths. I remember first discovering Anthony Bourdain on the Food Network many years ago. It was 3am and I was unable to sleep and here was this brooding, hot piece of ass chain smoking and touring Russia. I never remembered his name but he haunted my dreams until I re-discovered him years later on the Travel Channel show, No Reservations. In Kitchen Confidential, he is able to translate his sultry self onto paper. But he is not just a piece I love food and I love hot sexy chefs with potty mouths. I remember first discovering Anthony Bourdain on the Food Network many years ago. It was 3am and I was unable to sleep and here was this brooding, hot piece of ass chain smoking and touring Russia. I never remembered his name but he haunted my dreams until I re-discovered him years later on the Travel Channel show, No Reservations. In Kitchen Confidential, he is able to translate his sultry self onto paper. But he is not just a piece of meat, my friends. He is a very good writer with a quit wit and he conveys a passion that touched my [fill in the blank] like no other. Anthony Bourdain pretty much despises vegetarians, but I do not hold it against him. In fact, he makes me wish I was a heartless carnivore like him. And we would eat steak tartar together and take bathes together in a pool of goats blood. I've said too much. I'm sorry.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Larry H

    "I don't know, you see, how a normal person acts. I don't know how to behave outside my kitchen. I don't know the rules. I'm aware of them, sure, but I don't care to observe them anymore because I haven't had to for so many years. Okay, I can put on a jacket, go out for dinner and a movie, and I can eat with a knife and fork without embarrassing my hosts. But can I really behave? I don't know." I can't explain why it's taken me this long—nearly 20 years since it was published—to read Anthony Bourd "I don't know, you see, how a normal person acts. I don't know how to behave outside my kitchen. I don't know the rules. I'm aware of them, sure, but I don't care to observe them anymore because I haven't had to for so many years. Okay, I can put on a jacket, go out for dinner and a movie, and I can eat with a knife and fork without embarrassing my hosts. But can I really behave? I don't know." I can't explain why it's taken me this long—nearly 20 years since it was published—to read Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential . Having attended culinary school, I'm fairly obsessed with all things cooking-related, and consider myself to be a bit of a foodie. I was also an enormous Bourdain fan, religiously watching his television appearances and loving his take-no-prisoners philosophy when it came to adventurous eating (not something we shared, per se). Yet only now, in the few months since his shocking suicide, did I sit down to read his nearly 20-year-old look at his journey to executive chef, the knowledge he gained and the trouble he stepped into, time after time. While certainly it's a little eerie (and a little sad) to read a memoir by someone who subsequently dies, that didn't spoil my enjoyment of this terrific, brash, funny, and at times introspective, book. Bourdain was a natural storyteller—not only did he use food to tell the stories he (and his bosses) wanted to create, but he also loved to talk about the ways the culinary world has changed through the years, how what restaurants serve (and what people eat) has changed, and how the role of the chef has changed with it. Unlike many memoirs, Bourdain was never afraid to admit his flaws, his transgressions, his pet peeves, all of which served to make him more human and make his story more compelling. I loved everything about this book—from his days of being a cocky young man thinking he knew more (and could do more) than those who had been cooking for years, to his struggles to find the chef's job in a restaurant where he felt he belonged for more than a few weeks. He doesn't skimp on his addictions to cocaine, heroin, and whatever else he could find, and he was candid about how those problems nearly ruined his life and his career. While there are moments of vulnerability, there are more moments of humor, mischief, and tons of information about the life of a chef (at least in 2000), and why some restaurants and chefs succeed while others fail. The infamous chapter, "From Our Kitchen to Your Table," in which he warns of some restaurant tricks to get rid of older food (although not all of the things he discusses are still true today), is terrific, if not a little bit disturbing. How can you not love a book in which the author says, "Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter-faction, the vegans, are a persistent irritant to any chef worth a damn. To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living." (I guess if you're a vegetarian or vegan, you might take umbrage...) I love Bourdain's writing style, so I'll definitely be picking up some of the other books he wrote. Even if you're not an aspiring chef or a foodie or even a home cook, you may enjoy this simply for the pleasure of hearing his words, which are so vivid you probably can imagine him reading them to you. It's a great book for cooking pros and novices alike. Sure, reading Kitchen Confidential made me sad as I realized once again the magnitude of Bourdain's loss. But I'm also so happy he left such a rich legacy, in print, on television, and of course, in food. See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com, or check out my list of the best books I read in 2017 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2018/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2017.html.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    Maybe 3.5 stars, sometimes 4. It has lots of interesting anecdotes, but it was somewhat repetitive at parts. While interesting for the non-culinary inclined, I think it would be better received by someone with a kitchen background or a person who has worked in food and beverage. Some parts of this book talk about fantastic food and will leave you drooling. As a result, you will want to hop the next flight and travel the world visiting as many restaurants and trying as many types of fo Maybe 3.5 stars, sometimes 4. It has lots of interesting anecdotes, but it was somewhat repetitive at parts. While interesting for the non-culinary inclined, I think it would be better received by someone with a kitchen background or a person who has worked in food and beverage. Some parts of this book talk about fantastic food and will leave you drooling. As a result, you will want to hop the next flight and travel the world visiting as many restaurants and trying as many types of food as you can. Other parts will disgust you and leave you nauseous. You will never look a restaurant food the same way - and may not want to eat it at all unless you get a good look at the kitchen and the people preparing the food. Bourdain doesn't pull any punches talking about the life of the kitchen staff fueled by drugs, alcohol, sexual innuendo, sarcasm, anger, impatience, and tyranny. Some how, as a result, schedules are met, food is delivered, and customers are satisfied. Food prep is a lifestyle that can occupy the serious chef 24/7. It is something I will not take for granted in the future. R.I.P. Chef Bourdain

  6. 4 out of 5

    James Thane

    R.I.P.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Malia

    What follows is my summary of this book. Blah, blah, blah I'm an asshole blah, blah, blah yay, drugs blah, blah, fuck everyone, pork chop, fuck you all, mince, veal, drugs, blood, blah, blah, blah. Maybe you can tell, I am less than impressed. What I ultimately took away from this is that Bourdain would not like me (I'm a vegetarian, for one!) and I would not like him. I don't feel too bad writing this review, because Bourdain certainly never minces his words (culinary pun intended;-) I was What follows is my summary of this book. Blah, blah, blah I'm an asshole blah, blah, blah yay, drugs blah, blah, fuck everyone, pork chop, fuck you all, mince, veal, drugs, blood, blah, blah, blah. Maybe you can tell, I am less than impressed. What I ultimately took away from this is that Bourdain would not like me (I'm a vegetarian, for one!) and I would not like him. I don't feel too bad writing this review, because Bourdain certainly never minces his words (culinary pun intended;-) I was expecting entertaining anecdotes, of course not PC, knowing Bourdain, but frankly I was bored most of the time and started skimming two thirds of the way through. maybe this is great for really huge fans of the chef, but I guess I'm not one of them, give me Nigella any day. Find more reviews and bookish fun at http://www.princessandpen.com

  8. 4 out of 5

    Darwin8u

    “Good food is very often, even most often, simple food.” ― Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential There is a certain thrill to being the first person to reach the top of a mountain, the first to eat at a soon-to-be famous restaurant, the first to discover an author, a band, a new food or experience. Well friend, the thrill of a late “Good food is very often, even most often, simple food.” ― Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential There is a certain thrill to being the first person to reach the top of a mountain, the first to eat at a soon-to-be famous restaurant, the first to discover an author, a band, a new food or experience. Well friend, the thrill of a late discovery (even when you are 15 years late to the party) is still pretty damn sweet. I might have seen Bourdain's books as I wandered through a bookstore. I might have seen him on CNN, the Travel Channel or the Food Network while searching for another show on another station. I didn't hardly notice him. He was like that girl you know in class but have never given much real attention to (only later to discover she is witty, wicked, and everything you want in a lover and fear in a daughter. Over Christmas, while visiting and bonding my foodie brother in Arkansas, he introduces me to Parts Unknown on CNN. I am hooked. I love Bourdain. I'm addicted to the show. It mixes things that mix well: my love for travel, my love for food, my love for a damn good story with interesting characters. So, I figure, I might need to actually read his book. Yeah this one. The one that put him on the map. The one that turned him from an executive chef with personality to THE chef with personality. The book is a quick read. It dances. It seems to operate with a certain mechanical, hyper-caffeinated efficiency. Whatever money it made Bourdain, he probably deserved even more. Right now, I've muted my desire to put it on the bookshelf next to my other just reads. I want my wife to read it first. Oh, I've got a friend who would love it too. My initial reaction to finishing this book is the same I get when I discover a fantastic new restaurant (Republica Empanada in Mesa, AZ) -- I want to take friends and family to it. I become not just a disciple, but a crazy-eyed evangelist.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Tatiana

    If you are like me and love food, watching Top Chef and Food Channel, think that cooking is art, an outlet for creativity, consider chefs featured on such shows (including Anthony Bourdain) as super-sophisticated artists, you are up for a surprise with this book. Bourdain definitely crushes all preconceived notions we might have about the industry. You remember those foul-mouthed, unkempt, ever-fired-and-hired kitchen workers with shifty pasts you've come across at some points in your life? I thought I simp If you are like me and love food, watching Top Chef and Food Channel, think that cooking is art, an outlet for creativity, consider chefs featured on such shows (including Anthony Bourdain) as super-sophisticated artists, you are up for a surprise with this book. Bourdain definitely crushes all preconceived notions we might have about the industry. You remember those foul-mouthed, unkempt, ever-fired-and-hired kitchen workers with shifty pasts you've come across at some points in your life? I thought I simply had a misfortune of working in crappy places, but, apparently, all cooks are exactly like that! There is no such thing as a sophisticated cook, according to Bourdain. In his book, cooks are a dysfunctional lot - drug-addicted, unable to hold a "normal" job, people from the fringes of the society. Actually, Bourdain is one of these people himself. He supports this statement by numerous stories of his drug-, crime- and sex-infused culinary career. As for artistry in cooking, there is none. Cooking is all about mindless, unvarying repetition. Only a few executive chefs in high-end restaurants have a luxury of being creative with the food they make. Besides the anecdotes about dysfunctional kitchen workers, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly is a sort of biographical account of Bourdain's cooking career. He talks about how his love for food came about. He takes us on his life journey - from a dishwasher in a seaside joint to an executive chef position in a swanky NYC restaurant. He describes his experiences in failed and successful businesses. Offers practical advice about the industry and food. The morsels of wisdom I am taking away from this book are: don't order specials and don't attend brunch buffets (apparently, both are dumping grounds for old leftovers); don't eat at places with dirty bathrooms; vegetarians are crazy and sickly people who can't be trusted. As a narrator, Bourdain is very entertaining. He is a no-nonsense, no-holding-back kind of writer, sarcastic and witty and, I assume, quite honest about his exploits. One does start to wonder however if he is laying the bad boy thing a little too thick. It is interesting that in spite of his years-long heroine, cocaine, and alcohol addictions and his bad behavior at work, he not only managed to line one chef job after another in decent places (no McDonald's and Shoney's on his resume) but maintained a marriage as well. While I thought the book was entertaining, I finished reading it thinking it needed some editing help. First, it is not very well structured, the narration is not cohesive in any shape or form, it reads like a bunch of anecdotes thrown together in no apparent order. The stories of debauchery become repetitive and redundant by the end where I started skipping chapters because none of it was new. Finally, seeing some pictures of people and places Bourdain talks about would have been great too. Nevertheless, I would recommend this book to all food lovers and especially people who are toying with the idea of becoming restaurateurs or cooks. The author's advice and warnings about the business are sound. I, personally, am convinced not to ever get involved in this business, in any capacity, and will try to continue enjoying food knowing what actually goes on behind the kitchen doors.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    Halfway through this book I remembered I don't have the slightest bit of interest in the culinary arts whatsoever. Luckily, I was listening to it on audiotape. Unluckily, cassette 4 broke and I had to read the rest with my eyes. I'm not sure why I picked this up, I guess because I heard Bourdain was the "punk rock chef," but besides listening to the Sex Pistols and Velvet Underground while he cooked, there's not a whole lot else going on of a punk rock nature. He was a drug addict, but the book Halfway through this book I remembered I don't have the slightest bit of interest in the culinary arts whatsoever. Luckily, I was listening to it on audiotape. Unluckily, cassette 4 broke and I had to read the rest with my eyes. I'm not sure why I picked this up, I guess because I heard Bourdain was the "punk rock chef," but besides listening to the Sex Pistols and Velvet Underground while he cooked, there's not a whole lot else going on of a punk rock nature. He was a drug addict, but the book kind of skips right over that, which would have been interesting; I'd rather it had been more of a total autobiography than just a chronicle of his history of the restaurant biz, but once again, it's my fault because that's clearly what the book is labeled as. I wanted dirty stories from the seedy underbelly of the high-class dining world, but it didn't really get much wilder than a bunch of cooks making racist, sexist, homophobic jokes. Dude, that's not exclusive to the culinary world, that's pretty much behind the scenes at any workplace, or really any time you get a lot of misplaced testosterone in one room. You're not leading a "pirate crew," you're supervising people who are following recipes. I rented a dvd from his show "No Reservations" and was again surprised at myself for forgetting I don't really care about exotic foods, and that's a traveling show, which I'm also not into. So now I'm watching like 3 hours of a guy I don't like, eating shit I don't care about, in places I'm not interested in going to. It should be noted that I do like Rachel Ray's "Tasty Travels," but that's another story I don't want to get into. The only really funny anecdote I found was when he was in an interview for chef at a new steakhouse in New York, things were going smoothly until the owner asked him, "What do you know about me?" Bourdain thought it over, not sure what he should say, so he said the truth, "Nothing." So then the guy gives him a weird look, and the interview ends with Bourdain knowing he's not getting the job. He walks a few blocks down the street before he realizes the guy actually asked, "What do you know about MEAT."

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sydney

    The book's author is clearly impressed with having passed through the esteemed halls of Vassar College, yet prouder still of his hard knocks and rough-and-tumble street degree earned working for a slew of restaurants. Much of the book is spent describing the working stiffs in the culinary field and their wildly anti-social and anti-establishment behavior and greedy incompetent restaurant owners. The anecdotes were mildly amusing for the first hundred pages but tiresome by the end. If you're stuc The book's author is clearly impressed with having passed through the esteemed halls of Vassar College, yet prouder still of his hard knocks and rough-and-tumble street degree earned working for a slew of restaurants. Much of the book is spent describing the working stiffs in the culinary field and their wildly anti-social and anti-establishment behavior and greedy incompetent restaurant owners. The anecdotes were mildly amusing for the first hundred pages but tiresome by the end. If you're stuck on a plane with nothing else to read, go for it!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    I reread Kitchen Confidential in memory of Anthony Bourdain. I still can't believe he's gone. I enjoyed the book and smiled at Anthony's brash-yet-loveable style. Plus, it reminded me of my baby brother, who is also a chef. Highly recommended for restaurant workers and foodie fans.

  13. 4 out of 5

    carol.

    Abandoned, I think, most likely with prejudice. The audio version is read by Bourdain, which may be the most problematic aspect for me. In the first couple of chapters, Bourdain discusses his introduction to the world of cooking, followed by his experiences at the Culinary Institute of America and his forays into the cooking world after. I'm stalled out on recommendations for the home chef chapter, which I'd kind of like to finish. Here's the trouble: He sounds pretty much like a conc Abandoned, I think, most likely with prejudice. The audio version is read by Bourdain, which may be the most problematic aspect for me. In the first couple of chapters, Bourdain discusses his introduction to the world of cooking, followed by his experiences at the Culinary Institute of America and his forays into the cooking world after. I'm stalled out on recommendations for the home chef chapter, which I'd kind of like to finish. Here's the trouble: He sounds pretty much like a conceited, arrogant asshole, even as he's admitting he was a conceited, arrogant, twenty-year-old asshole. In this case, though certainly there is a feel of realism added by listening to him talk, it is far, far too much arrogance for me. I work with that type quite a bit, so I'm not really enjoying it during my free time. The writing style is also somewhat over-done. It reminds me of when I was in high school and a group of us learned how to write humorous essays, that mostly consisted of wild exaggeration coupled with sarcasm. It's tiring. The last part, and potentially most damning, is that there doesn't seem to be a lot of insight into food. Or rather, there was limited insight for the time period which it was about (remember truffle oil?), such as the infamous chapter with the advice 'never order fish on Mondays,' which he later amended (https://www.businessinsider.com/antho...). From a foodie perspective, he's focused on proteins and presentation: it was surprising to me that he recommended a solid chef's knife for the home cook, but not necessarily a paring knife (essential, imo, for delicate fruit and veggie work). And why does he hate the garlic press so much? Sure, for the first twenty-some years of my cooking life, I flattened and chopped with my chef's knife, but I confess the press I started using was perfect for garlic in homemade salad dressing. Overall, I think I would benefit more from his last book, the one that potentially offers more insight from an older, more worldly person, and from his later-career focus in food as a representation of culture.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kate Quinn

    It's hard to know how to classify "Kitchen Confidential." Memoir? Expose? Humor? Its author Anthony Bourdain is easier to pin down: the hard-drinking, hard-swearing, hard-living executive chef of a New York restaurant who can't write a sentence without being funny, poignant, or offensive, often simultaneously. Bourdain's book ranges freely over his French childhood where he first got obsessed with food, his time at fry-shacks, grill bars, and the Culinary Institute of America which variously tau It's hard to know how to classify "Kitchen Confidential." Memoir? Expose? Humor? Its author Anthony Bourdain is easier to pin down: the hard-drinking, hard-swearing, hard-living executive chef of a New York restaurant who can't write a sentence without being funny, poignant, or offensive, often simultaneously. Bourdain's book ranges freely over his French childhood where he first got obsessed with food, his time at fry-shacks, grill bars, and the Culinary Institute of America which variously taught him to cook, his exceedingly checkered career as chef for a variety of restaurants both doomed and successful, and his observations on the underbelly of the restaurant biz. He can be lyrical and almost tender (his fierce advocacy for the under-appreciated Latinos who make so much of America's three-star cuisine, and get so little recognition) but things really get fun when he lets it rip. Targets for his sarcasm include celebrity chefs who don't actually cook, the Food Network, and restaurants who pretty up leftover Saturday-night crap and package it for $29.99 as Sunday Brunch. Bourdain's macho testosteronal voice would be unbearable if he didn't make just as much fun of himself as he does of everyone else: he recounts stealing from restaurants in his youth, cheating through Chicken Stock class in the Culinary Institute, snorting cocaine on the job, not being able to cook worth a damn compared to his culinary idols, and in general being an asshole. Maybe he is, but he's a funny asshole and he sure can write. You will never order fish on Tuesday again after reading this book, and you will never walk into a restaurant without looking at the kitchen doors and wondering if the crew making your food is the kind of swaggering foul-mouthed unabashedly entertaining batch of borderline outlaws who are depicted so vividly in Bourdain's pages.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Gabrielle

    I am ashamed to say I knew very little about Anthony Bourdain before he died. I knew he was a celebrity chef, with a pile of published books, TV shows and a reputation for being abrasive, but not much else. After reading this, I regret not paying more attention when I could, because I found Mr. Bourdain to be an incredibly passionate, well-read, deeply articulate, hysterically funny and brutally honest human being. It is creepy to think I could have crushed on him super hard was he still around? I am ashamed to say I knew very little about Anthony Bourdain before he died. I knew he was a celebrity chef, with a pile of published books, TV shows and a reputation for being abrasive, but not much else. After reading this, I regret not paying more attention when I could, because I found Mr. Bourdain to be an incredibly passionate, well-read, deeply articulate, hysterically funny and brutally honest human being. It is creepy to think I could have crushed on him super hard was he still around? I'm amused by people who think he was arrogant: I mean, half French, half New Yorker is not a blueprint for humility, but I also found him to have worked his ass off and to have earned his success. He decided he wanted to be the best, and then single-mindedly gave everything to that goal. There's a strong working class ethic that transpires from his writing, a love of work well-done, of hard work that makes him someone with very high standards - because he knew how tough it is to do your best. I have a lot of respect for that, and as far as I am concerned, he earned the right to be a snob. He also acknowledges how grateful he is to anyone who helped him, anyone who gave him an opportunity, anyone who showed loyalty and shared his love of food and good work. That shows a lot of heart; most prickly people are kinda gooey in the middle, and I feel that Bourdain was like that too. A career in food is a hard, hard thing to do. I don't know if everyone realizes it's not really glamorous, that it requires the weirdest hours, the most strenuous pace and the most frustrating interactions. Bourdain wanted everyone to know what there is behind the curtain, who teams up to put together the beautifully plated and delicious things you eat at fancy restaurants. He did that with self-deprecating humor, and gave no-nonsense advice for people who want to cook like he did - at the risk of deeply offending vegetarians all over the world. Reading this after Bourdain committed suicide is a bit rough, because while he certainly had a tendency for self-destructive behavior (he mentions excessive drinking and developing a heroin addiction), he also clearly loved to feel alive. How hard it must get for a man who loved life as much as he did to decide it wasn't worth living anymore is beyond what I can imagine, and it makes me incredibly sad to think he took his own life. Four and a half stars, rounded down because I know a few of those chapters are old articles Bourdain wrote for various publications, and I think the book would hold itself together better if it had been a more continuous narrative. But I will be looking up his other books and scour Netflix for his shows. -- Additional thoughts: -Yup, food is sex. I can't trust people who don't enjoy food, who eat just to sustain their bodies and not for the amazing sensual pleasure that eating can be. Maybe its the French and Italian upbringing, but that's just not right to me. Love and fully experience your food! Giving someone delicious, lovingly prepared food is a profound act of love in my opinion. All these thoughts also apply to sex. Obviously. -My (French) father always said that margarine is the devil's lubricant, and I think he would have disowned me if he had ever found that greasy blasphemy in my fridge. It's nice to have this opinion vindicated. Apologies to my father-in-law and his "I can't believe it's not butter" spray bottles: I will never surrender, Ed! -Sorry my darling Anthony, but demi-glace is overrated. And no one gets between me and a plate of smoked salmon eggs Benny and lives to tell the tale. Hollandaise is LIFE. Bacteria, shmackteria. What happened to living dangerously?! -Yes, excessive meat consumption increases the risk of lifestyle diseases. It's also terrible for ecological sustainability. Less meat and a lot more veggies is definitely the way to go, but people who preach about veganism and try to make other people feel like bad human beings for not hopping onto their high-horse really, really need to pipe the fuck down. -This book made me fall in love with Bourdain; I started reading all his other books and binging every one of his shows I could find. A piece of my heart will always belong to him - not just because he was a smokin' hot, smart-mouthed hunk, but because of how inspired I am by his work, and because of how much I've learned reading him and watching him explore the world. Thank god he wrote this book, which started it all.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Patricia

    Advanced warning: I tend to take on the vernacular of whomever I'm reading, so now might be a good time to mention that Anthony Bourdain has a very colorful ... er ... style. So, I've finished reading Anthony Bourdain's book Kitchen Confidential, which is basically about all the craziness that goes on behind the scenes in the restaurant world. As I started reading the book, I thought I'd be of one of two minds by the end: either I'd never want to eat out again, or I'd want to chuck the teaching Advanced warning: I tend to take on the vernacular of whomever I'm reading, so now might be a good time to mention that Anthony Bourdain has a very colorful ... er ... style. So, I've finished reading Anthony Bourdain's book Kitchen Confidential, which is basically about all the craziness that goes on behind the scenes in the restaurant world. As I started reading the book, I thought I'd be of one of two minds by the end: either I'd never want to eat out again, or I'd want to chuck the teaching career and become a chef. Now that I've finished the book, I can honestly say that I really don't want to do either. I still will eat out although I'll never have fish on Monday -- not that that's too difficult since I don't order fish unless I'm actually at a place where I can smell the salt water. And I don't want to become a chef. I'm not at all suited for that craziness when the mad rush comes in. However, what I would love to do is to figure out how to take Bourdain's Gonzo-style management and use it in teaching. The thing about Bourdain is that he just takes his balls out and lays them on the table and says "Yep, there they are. Look at them." He's just the best kind of badass because he has the talent to back up his swagger, but he also is plenty capable of fucking up. The thing that's so sexy about that, though, is that when he does screw something up, he owns it. Is it occasionally inappropriate to lay one's balls on the table and issue the directive to look at them? Yes. Absolutely. Does he fall apart when he realizes that he's done the wrong thing? No. He shrugs his shoulders and accepts the repercussions. This isn't to say that he doesn't care or that he is a complete asshole. There is plenty of evidence in the book that he does care and that he takes his fuck-ups to heart and tries to do better--to correct the dish so that it works the next time. I already kind of have this attitude in teaching -- I have tried some things that haven't worked, and I've tried to own it and accept the repercussions, but I think I'll try to acknowledge this attitude a bit more, and I would really like to figure out how to get my students to take this attitude towards their writing. This really struck me this week as I was finishing Bourdain's book and a list-serv that I'm a member of was filled with temporary and adjunct instructors who are all upset about an article that appeared in the June issue of The Atlantic Monthly. A majority of the members of the list are upset because the author of the article, who teaches as a community college and at a lower-tier state school, basically points out that not everyone is capable of passing a college English course and that it is often the job of those who teach the entry level courses, i.e., the people who stand on the lower rungs of the academic ladder, to be the hatchet men of academe. I agree with the author of the article. In an ideal world, as teachers, we want to help anyone who wants to learn. But nationwide, and especially in my state, we don't live anywhere near ideal when it comes to education. Anyway, I'll start to get my syllabi ready for the fall semester soon, and as I do, I will be trying to figure out how to take a different approach to teaching this semester. A Gonzo-style approach.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Madeline

    "No, I want to tell you about the dark recesses of the restaurant underbelly - a subculture whose centuries-old militaristic hierarchy and ethos of 'rum, buggery and the lash' make for a mix of unwavering order and nerve-shattering chaos - because I find it all quite comfortable, like a nice warm bath. I can move around easily in this life. I speak the language. In the small, incestuous community of chefs and cooks in New York City, I know the people, and in my kitchen, I know how to behave (as "No, I want to tell you about the dark recesses of the restaurant underbelly - a subculture whose centuries-old militaristic hierarchy and ethos of 'rum, buggery and the lash' make for a mix of unwavering order and nerve-shattering chaos - because I find it all quite comfortable, like a nice warm bath. I can move around easily in this life. I speak the language. In the small, incestuous community of chefs and cooks in New York City, I know the people, and in my kitchen, I know how to behave (as opposed to in real life, where I'm on shakier ground). I want the professionals who read this to enjoy it for what it is: a straight look at a life many of us have lived and breathed for most of our days and nights to the exclusion of 'normal' social interaction. Never having had a Friday or Saturday night off, always working holidays, being busiest when the rest of the world is just getting out of work, makes for a sometimes peculiar world-view, which I hope my fellow chefs and cooks will recognize. The restaurant lifers who read this may or may not like what I'm doing. But they'll know I'm not lying." Before No Reservations, there was Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain's straightforward, occasionally too-honest account of the restaurant industry and the demented geniuses who make their living from it. Although there are plenty of meditations on food (the very first section describes the moment when Anthony Bourdain first fell in love with food) and cooking, this is first and foremost a book about restaurants: what kind of people work there, what sort of people should and shouldn't own one, and what goes on behind the scenes. This really functions more as a collection of essays rather than a straightforward memoir, because although events happen in mostly chronological order, there are large gaps missing (for instance, in one chapter Bourdain discusses the time he worked at an Italian restaurant and learned to love Italian food, and in the next chapter he's describing a typical day at his job as head chef of Les Halles) and there's no clear narrative arc. It's a good, in-depth look at the inner workings of restaurants, well-written and brimming with Bourdain's signature no-bullshit piss-and-vinegar tone that I love so well: "Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter-faction, the vegans, are a persistent irritant to any chef worth a damn. To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is not a life worth living. Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, an affront to all that I stand for, the pure enjoyment of food." I've worked as a waitress for about two and half years now, so most of the things Bourdain reveals about the food service industry weren't all that shocking to me (people working in a restaurant are often drinking and/or on drugs during service? yawn.) but the book was still able to give me a new perspective into a part of the restaurant industry that I was unfamiliar with. In a restaurant, working the floor and working back of house are two very different worlds, and it was cool to get a look into how the other side lives. It also gave me more sympathy to how damn hard the cooks have to work - after reading sections like the description of Bourdain working as the head chef during the dinner rush, I will never complain again about the cooks where I work taking twenty minutes to make two burgers in the middle of Friday night dinner rush: "The printer is going nonstop now. My left hand grabs tickets, separates out white copy for grill, yellow copy for sautee, pink copy for me, coffee orders for the busboys. My right hand wipes plates, jams gaufrette potatoes and rosemary sprigs into mashed potatoes, moves tickets from the order to the fire positions, appetizers on order to appetizers out. I'm yelling full-time now, trying to hold it together, keep an even pace. My radar screen is filled with incoming bogeys, and I'm shooting them down as fast as I can. One mistake, where a whole table comes back because of a prematurely fired dupe, or a bad combination of special requests ties up a station for a few critical seconds, or a whole roasted fish or a cote de boeuf has been forgotten? The whole line could come grinding to a dead stop, like someone dropping a wrench into a GM assembly line - utter meltdown, what every chef fears most. If something like this happens it could blow the whole pace of the evening, screw up everybody's heads, and create a deep, dark hole that could be very hard to climb out of." Required reading for anyone who plans to eat at a restaurant in the near future. One last thought: does anyone else remember Kitchen Confidential being a failed sitcom once upon a time? I faintly remember watching one episode when it briefly aired, and it was about one of the chef guy's mentor coming to the restaurant, and I remember that he was this really tough exacting guy who would tell his students that he "made two chefs like you in the toilet this morning." I was sure that I was misremembering and that the two weren't related, but then I got to the bit where Bourdain describes his time at the Culinary Institute of America and one of his instructors totally used to say that. Does anyone remember that this show happened?

  18. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    Oh boy. Where to begin? I found this book - and by extension Anthony Bourdain - somewhat distasteful. On the surface, it works. Bourdain promises to take you behind the scenes of the restaurant industry, which he certainly does - it's just that he only takes you to very specific restaurant environments that he has worked in and has directly helped shape, a revelation that he only gets to almost three-quarters of the way through the book. All kitchens are messy morasses of machismo, he says, and th Oh boy. Where to begin? I found this book - and by extension Anthony Bourdain - somewhat distasteful. On the surface, it works. Bourdain promises to take you behind the scenes of the restaurant industry, which he certainly does - it's just that he only takes you to very specific restaurant environments that he has worked in and has directly helped shape, a revelation that he only gets to almost three-quarters of the way through the book. All kitchens are messy morasses of machismo, he says, and the only way to survive them is to fully commit to the culture. But later, he takes the reader to Scott Bryan’s kitchen, where “there are islands of reason and calm, where the pace is steady, where quality always takes precedence over the demands of volume, and where it's not always about dick dick dick.” I was flabbergasted: this passage seemed to negate almost everything that came before it. The restaurant industry is hard and requires a phenomenal amount of work from its chefs, but it apparently does not, as Bourdain tries to say for hundreds of pages, require them to be assholes. Bourdain's writing is excellent in parts. I loved his descriptions of various restaurants over his long and interesting career, particularly the restaurant run by the mafia. The entire segment about Adam (no last name) who makes the magical bread made me laugh out loud. The sections where he’s relating stories about his coworkers and the New York restaurant scene are great; the personal sections, not so much. The structure of the book is choppy and doesn’t have a linear narrative, which makes it hard to follow the thread of his story. Bourdain seems almost too self-aware to write about himself. He’s too ready to call younger versions of himself an idiot. At first, it seems like he gets it - his younger self really was an idiot - but it slowly becomes apparent that he’s still just as arrogant as before. He’s just learned how to make it sound like he’s learned something. For me, the most telling anecdote in the book, and the one that I’ll remember, is when Bourdain realizes that, statistically, only one in four heroin addicts gets clean. He’s in a car with three other junkies, and he immediately promises himself that he will be the one to get out alive, no matter what. And he does, and he goes on to write that story - but not the story of his recovery - in this book. And that’s all you need to know about Anthony Bourdain.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    How could I have never reviewed this book? I read this at a key turning point in my life, and was one of those books that changed everything for me. I was 22. I had gotten married and gone directly to graduate school right after graduating with a BA in music, with a full ride and graduate assistantship in the School of Folklore at Indiana University. It wasn't a good fit for me. By the time I enrolled in the fieldwork class, I knew I was probably on my way out, and got permission to do my fieldw How could I have never reviewed this book? I read this at a key turning point in my life, and was one of those books that changed everything for me. I was 22. I had gotten married and gone directly to graduate school right after graduating with a BA in music, with a full ride and graduate assistantship in the School of Folklore at Indiana University. It wasn't a good fit for me. By the time I enrolled in the fieldwork class, I knew I was probably on my way out, and got permission to do my fieldwork assignments in restaurant kitchens. The culinary-school trained cooks in the restaurant commanded me to read this book when I was still just observing and volunteering (I later worked there until I moved away), and it solidified my love for an industry that I was already excited by because of my experiences. Anthony Bourdain may seem a bit extreme, but his tales of what really goes on in restaurants and among cooks is not that far off from my own experiences. Ask me to tell you about the time I slammed the head waiter's head in the fridge door, or ask for a kitchen-scar tour of my body. Once you are immersed in that world, it changes you. I loved it. I loved the rush, the thrill, the creativity, the challenge. I feel like Bourdain's memories are my memories. I may love him as a TV personality and a guest actor in my dreams, but this is where I love him the most.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Vonia

    Oh, Anthony Bourdain... How I love you! I have no idea why it took me so long to read his very first memoir. Amazing, hilarious, witty, educational, enlightening, entertaining, intriguing, original, honest... This should be mandatory reading for every first year CIA student. For anyone unfamiliar with this use, that is The Culinary Institutes Of America, Bourdain's Alma Mater, not The Central Intelligence Agency. Of course, (Fortunately? Unfortunately?, although I was not in the industry long en Oh, Anthony Bourdain... How I love you! I have no idea why it took me so long to read his very first memoir. Amazing, hilarious, witty, educational, enlightening, entertaining, intriguing, original, honest... This should be mandatory reading for every first year CIA student. For anyone unfamiliar with this use, that is The Culinary Institutes Of America, Bourdain's Alma Mater, not The Central Intelligence Agency. Of course, (Fortunately? Unfortunately?, although I was not in the industry long enough to personally attest to its accuracy, I have full confidence in Bourdain's authority based on conversations with acquaintances whom have, as well as other research. We read about his years as Anthony Bourdain, before becoming The Anthony Bourdain; his decades in all areas of the industry, horizontally, vertically, laterally, diagonally; from dishwasher to prepper to student to line cook to saucier to sous chef to head chef to executive chef; from eye-opening taste of vichyssoise to world-opening oyster to shanking fellow cooks to fucking fellow cooks to twenty hour days to alcoholic tendencies to five packs a day to caffeine dependent nights to unemployed heroin addict to heroin addict running a three star kitchen to unemployed sober to vowing to never be a chef again to running a celebrity establishment; from SoHo to 12th street to Market District to The Grammercy District to Theater Row to Connecticut to The Rainbow Room aloft The Empire State Building to gay-friendly to Italian Dining to French @ Les Halles... A chapter devoted to the lexicon of the kitchen, another to instruction on beautiful plating, one to Members of The Kitchen, another to the necessity of intimacy with the Sous-Chef (closer than a wife), one to a character named Adam-Last-Name-Unknown, one to a "Day In The Life" of a great chef, one to how anyone can appear to be a chef (provided one has interest in food, some intelligence, & an innate reasonable sense of flavor), one to what he calls The Wilderness Years, & seriously important "So You Want To Be A Chef?" Although, it is obvious to me that the entire thing is a "So You Want To be A Chef?" Part memoir, part diary, part expose, part journalism, part textbook, but always honest, straightforward, informational, and funny. Read this masterpiece. Agree with his overstated (and often unnecessarily blunt) opinions or not, his insider information, extensive experience, witty insight, and unique views can hardly be denied to have authority.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Ginger

    I really enjoyed watching Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown over the years and knew I needed to get to Kitchen Confidential one day. Rest in peace big guy. Did this book surprise me with what happens at a restaurant? Nope, not at all but I'm glad I finally read it. I worked as a server while in college and my husband has worked as a server and bartender off and on over the last 20 years. We know how the industry works and the things not mentioned to non-restaurant people. I did enjoy how A I really enjoyed watching Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown over the years and knew I needed to get to Kitchen Confidential one day. Rest in peace big guy. Did this book surprise me with what happens at a restaurant? Nope, not at all but I'm glad I finally read it. I worked as a server while in college and my husband has worked as a server and bartender off and on over the last 20 years. We know how the industry works and the things not mentioned to non-restaurant people. I did enjoy how Anthony Bourdain did not pull any punches showing how the restaurant industry really is and how stressful it gets. When the kitchen is organized, the chefs are working well together and the serving staff have their shit together, you'll know. The meal will be amazing and the dinning experience is well worth the cost!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    I enjoyed this book by Mr. Bourdain. I like his attitude. This is an entirely different world from what I live in. I've never worked in the food service industry, is it still like this nowadays? A world where you can never be sued for sexual harassment and foul language? I have a boring office job and this is so foreign to me. Because this is so far removed from my own experiences of the world - heck, I've never even been to New York and seldom eat at fancy restaurants - I I enjoyed this book by Mr. Bourdain. I like his attitude. This is an entirely different world from what I live in. I've never worked in the food service industry, is it still like this nowadays? A world where you can never be sued for sexual harassment and foul language? I have a boring office job and this is so foreign to me. Because this is so far removed from my own experiences of the world - heck, I've never even been to New York and seldom eat at fancy restaurants - I liked it. It was fun. And eye opening.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Marija

    First time I heard of Anthony Bourdain was on some TV show. He seemed like a cool guy, but I didn’t think of him as a chef. He seemed to be nothing but a TV presenter who travels around the world. I didn’t think that he really mattered much in the culinary world. Most of the chefs that we see on TV either cook or get other people judged on ability to cook and/or perform in the kitchens. Anthony Bourdain wasn’t doing anything of that. He was simply enjoying food…in some unique way. Not long ago I stumbled upon hi First time I heard of Anthony Bourdain was on some TV show. He seemed like a cool guy, but I didn’t think of him as a chef. He seemed to be nothing but a TV presenter who travels around the world. I didn’t think that he really mattered much in the culinary world. Most of the chefs that we see on TV either cook or get other people judged on ability to cook and/or perform in the kitchens. Anthony Bourdain wasn’t doing anything of that. He was simply enjoying food…in some unique way. Not long ago I stumbled upon his book called “Kitchen Confidential”. He succeeded in noteworthy profiling of American chefs/cooks and provided accordingly an awe-inspiring study of behaviour as well as dispositions, which are to be discerned in many American professional kitchens, “ insensitive to gender preference, and the gorgeous mosaic of an ethnically diverse workforce.” The culinary world appears to be the unruly kingdom of extreme personality types. Without stereotyping, Bourdain draws a fine line between objective observation and personal experience, which is emotional for the most part. This, probably, makes him the best writer among the chefs as well as the best cook among the writers. Another important aspect of this book is Bourdain’s view of food and its connection with certain “habits” in American restaurants. He writes about brunch as “an open invitation to the cost-conscious chef, a dumping ground for the odd bits left over from Friday and Saturday nights or for the scraps generated in the normal course of business.” Although brutally honest, his attitude is a pure expression of passion for cooking and affinity for superb cuisine. Term “Failing Restaurant Syndrome” suggests an extensive explanation on what is to be avoided when starting up a restaurant, which obstacles should be predicted and what kind of attitude is required in order for someone to survive in the restaurant world called “a hole that statistically, at least, will almost surely prove dry.” What really impresses me most is Bourdain’s talent to illustrate someone’s traits with such meticulousness wrapped in compassion and recognition. In his book “Kitchen Confidential” he showed an impressively deep understanding of human nature. He would write for example …he… “who could keep it together, show up on time, keep his mouth shut, and do the right thing – even if he woke up every morning naked and covered with puke on a cold bathroom floor.” Or: “ My love for chaos, conspiracy and the dark side of human nature colours the behaviour of my charges, most of whom are already living near the fringes of acceptable conduct.” This is an amusing, smart book about loyalty and treachery, friends and enemies, pride and shame, endurance and cessation. Anthony BourdainAnthony Bourdain

  24. 5 out of 5

    Stacia (the 2010 club)

    I almost feel the need to have to bring back my "3 stars is not a bad rating" disclaimer, since I've had a bizarrely rare couple of weeks with several 4 star rated books in my lineup. Well here we are again, settling back into the "3 star is the standard" normalcy of my world. Kitchen Confidential was an entertaining read. The main reason why I couldn't swing a 4 is only because I think I'd expected there to be more "trade secrets" about the restaurant industry than there really were. I'd half expected to be terrorized iworld.Kitchen I almost feel the need to have to bring back my "3 stars is not a bad rating" disclaimer, since I've had a bizarrely rare couple of weeks with several 4 star rated books in my lineup. Well here we are again, settling back into the "3 star is the standard" normalcy of my world. Kitchen Confidential was an entertaining read. The main reason why I couldn't swing a 4 is only because I think I'd expected there to be more "trade secrets" about the restaurant industry than there really were. I'd half expected to be terrorized into never wanting to eat in a restaurant ever again after finding out that 95% of restaurant employees either pee, spit, or masturbate into their food (I'm only half joking). I'd honestly thought that I was going to be reading the book like this : Now, that's not to say that there weren't a few disgusting tidbits thrown out for me to contemplate. For example, I now know never to order fish specials on a Monday, or to eat Mussels just about anywhere. But...I think I wanted to know more about the "behind the scenes" dirt on what can really go wrong in restaurants than what we were given. Something else that I'd expected to see more of was Anthony's hard-on for hating on the Food Network community. There were a couple of little digs in this book (the "you're halfway to making that fuzzy little Emeril your bitch" comment made me snort), but nothing even remotely at the level to which I would have expected (maybe that was a publisher reign-in, who knows?) I've followed some of his past interviews and blog posts and have to admit to being far more amused than I should be over his petty jabs at Rachael Ray, Emeril and others. Note : I have nothing against these people and have spent many hours watching the Food Network over the years. I guess I wanted more of the "gritty" dirt that I thought AB could provide, so I found myself slightly disappointed. But again, the book itself was entertaining for a memoir of his experiences coming up in the foodie world. This isn't to say that I wasn't amused over the fact that he walked around in his youth wearing nunchakus in a holster while carrying a samurai sword (and we're not talking the pre-teen years, we're talking college here), but I have to admit that I'm more fascinated by the sarcastic 50-plus-year-old man who has digestive issues, drinks like a fish, and got filmed eating an animal's poop chute on his television show. We did get to see some of his irreverence in the book. This is not a politically correct read all of the time (and I don't agree with many of his opinions), but at least he's an equal-opportunity shit talker. He might be brash and crass, but he's definitely got a distinct point-of-view. Your body is not a temple, it's an amusement park. Enjoy the ride. Sure, it's a 'play you pay' sort of an adventure, but you know that already, every time you ever ordered a taco or a dirty-water hot dog.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kavita

    I had Kitchen Confidential for quite a while lying in my e-reader and I thought it was about time I read it. I wish I hadn't now! I had thought a book about food can never possibly be so boring and disgusting. But Anthony Bourdain's personality permeates throughout the book and put me off completely. Bourdain appears to have had a decent enough childhood and his chapter about discovering good food in France was nice. But the rest of it was just him being a dickhead. It is no surprise that most industries ar I had Kitchen Confidential for quite a while lying in my e-reader and I thought it was about time I read it. I wish I hadn't now! I had thought a book about food can never possibly be so boring and disgusting. But Anthony Bourdain's personality permeates throughout the book and put me off completely. Bourdain appears to have had a decent enough childhood and his chapter about discovering good food in France was nice. But the rest of it was just him being a dickhead. It is no surprise that most industries are sexism, racism, homophobia, and whatever other "isms" you care to mention. These are not unique to the food industry. But the toxic masculinity that Bourdain advocates, and even revels in, is disgusting. Tim, a veteran waiter, is dry-humping Cachundo—to Cachundo's apparent displeasure. He's blocking the lane and impeding traffic in the narrow kitchen with his thrusting. I have to ask Tim nicely not to sexually harass my runners during service . . . after work, please. If you are easily offended by direct aspersions on your lineage, the circumstances of your birth, your sexuality, your appearance, the mention of your parents possibly commingling with livestock, then the world of professional cooking is not for you. I mean, really! WTF? Who would change things if you don't? He goes on and on in this vein for pages. He was kind enough to admit that some tough women handle the sexual harassment very well and are stars of the kitchen. I mean, are you brain damaged? Why should women have to be experts at handling gropers to work in a fucking kitchen? It's not a fucking qualification! And then, there are all the Ecuadorians, Mexicans, Cubans, etc. whom he specifically chose in order to exploit them. Looks like people who have no expectations of holidays, sick leave, healthcare, and such, should only work in Bourdain's kitchen. He makes it abundantly clear. That's why he didn't hire white Americans, who would never put up with his shit. The book was disgusting in other ways too. Bourdain is against vegetarians and frankly I am glad he hated us. Bourdain's never ending descriptions of groping and namecalling in his kitchen got on my nerves very fast. He calls a sexual abuser - one who gropes everyone in the kitchen - his best friend because he was oh, so efficient! But it appears he was more bonkers than ignoring just what many other men like to do. We considered ourselves a tribe. As such, we had a number of unusual customs, rituals and practices all our own. If you cut yourself in the Work Progress kitchen, tradition called for maximum spillage and dispersion of blood. One squeezed the wound till it ran freely, then hurled great gouts of red spray on the jackets and aprons of comrades. We loved blood in our kitchen. The man was really messed up. I am not surprised he committed suicide. It appears he supported the Me Too movement and regretted this horrible memoir before his death, but it's too little too late if you ask me. A lifetime of promoting toxic masculinity cannot be erased with a few words in old age. And this book would serve better as a coaster. Okay, so there were some interesting bits if you just skimmed through all the abuse and the nasty bits. He offers some cooking tips and a pretty decent insight into dining for customers. I personally find that restaurants in Pune are mostly useless with loud music, large TV playing sports, unbearably bright lights, and indifferent service. It's like they can't decide whether they are a club, sports bar, or operation theatre. Reading Kitchen Confidential gave me some real insights into why restaurants would make it such a chore to sit through a damn meal. At the end, Bourdain gives tips on how to become a chef. Assume the worst. About everybody. But don't let this poisoned outlook affect your job performance. Let it all roll off your back. Ignore it. Be amused by what you see and suspect. Just because someone you work with is a miserable, treacherous, self-serving, capricious and corrupt asshole shouldn't prevent you from enjoying their company, working with them or finding them entertaining. This business grows assholes: it's our principal export. I'm an asshole. You should probably be an asshole too. That just about sums up the book and the man.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Alex Givant

    Mesmerizing and candid autobiography of the chef. I laughed a lot at some points. Special bonus for author reading it - it's much more personal and immersive that when some guy who didn't see a skillet in his life reads it. It takes a lot to become a chef - long hours, lot of disappointment and pressure. Read it, get familiar with kind of people who is cooking your food in any restaurants - Anthony had it all from cheap hole-in-the-wall to some most expensive ones. I specially like parts when he Mesmerizing and candid autobiography of the chef. I laughed a lot at some points. Special bonus for author reading it - it's much more personal and immersive that when some guy who didn't see a skillet in his life reads it. It takes a lot to become a chef - long hours, lot of disappointment and pressure. Read it, get familiar with kind of people who is cooking your food in any restaurants - Anthony had it all from cheap hole-in-the-wall to some most expensive ones. I specially like parts when he explains how the kitchen works and what to order and more important to NOT order on specific days of the week. Excellent life story from the guy who unfortunately left us.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Joshua Rigsby

    This guy could write. Man, I miss him. A few things bubble up as I think about this book. First is how Bourdain set out, more or less from the beginning, to be the kind of person he became. He wanted to be seen, recognized, thought-highly-of. He wanted to quip snarkily about things. He wanted to squeeze the juice out of the blood-orange of life, to slurp the seductive oyster. He was aware that he was pretentious and obnoxious, that part of his personality was pure affect, and that was fine. That This guy could write. Man, I miss him. A few things bubble up as I think about this book. First is how Bourdain set out, more or less from the beginning, to be the kind of person he became. He wanted to be seen, recognized, thought-highly-of. He wanted to quip snarkily about things. He wanted to squeeze the juice out of the blood-orange of life, to slurp the seductive oyster. He was aware that he was pretentious and obnoxious, that part of his personality was pure affect, and that was fine. That was how he wanted it to be. The second thing is how Bourdain ran and appreciated others running a kind of culinary miscreant pirate ship in the kitchen. He instructed runners to give body blows to anyone impeding the flow of orders, ingredients, and completed dishes. He ran intelligence operations. He constantly inquired, like a field general, about the psychological health of the operation, human resources, the industry as a whole, and their competitors across the street. He stabbed a handsy coworker with a rusty meat fork. He drooped, exhausted under fluorescent lights, or zipped, coked up, from one failing restaurant operation to the next. The world Bourdain described, created, and maintained in this book was, intentionally, delicious. A third and maybe most salient surprise, had to do with his first trip to Japan which he relates toward the end of the book. He describes, with mild discomfort, the thirteen hour flight. He talks about walking the streets in a fog of jet lag. He pedals a bicycle, and wanders smokey alleyways, unsure of where he is and what he is expected to do. More than anything, his fear is fascinating. This man, whom I only ever knew as an intrepid explorer on CNN—shotgunning barbecued insects, ceremonially slaughtering Masai meat—was once a cowering American outsider. He describes an early morning ramble, his first in Tokyo, peering into uncertain doorways, and being stared at. He feels out of place. He seeks refuge in a Starbucks, the culturally familiar. He kicks himself for being too afraid to try a soba noodle place, and strikes out again, this time determined. He pulls back a curtain, plops down on a stool, squints at an all-Japanese menu, then jerks a thumb at the salary man seated next to him. "I'll have what he's having." Incorrigible, crass, intelligent, and curious, Bourdain, in many of the ways that mattered, knew how to take life, prepare, and serve it. I'd like to have what he's having too.

  28. 5 out of 5

    7jane

    This was a good read, although I need a reread to give a full review. Bought recently a new copy for myself, with new sidenotes and the afterthoughts to be read, which gives another reread reason. :)

  29. 4 out of 5

    Brittany

    Hearing the late Bourdain's voice as he authored this book himself was an added treat! This book was a solid 3.5 stars for me. There were a lot of greta stories, but also some pomp that is well-known to be associated with Bourdain. Overall, It was a great and interesting insider look at a hectic restaurant kitchen and how much goes into getting everyone's food out whilenot stabbing your sous chef or waitstaff... ;0)

  30. 5 out of 5

    Cody

    "Though I've spent half my life watching people, guiding them, trying to anticipate their moods, motivations and actions, running from them, manipulating and being manipulated by them, they remain a mystery to me. People confuse me. Food doesn't. (299) "I don't know, you see, how a normal person acts. I don't know how to behave outside my kitchen. I don't know the rules. I'm aware of them, sure, but I don't care to observe them anymore - because I haven't had to for so many years." (2 "Though I've spent half my life watching people, guiding them, trying to anticipate their moods, motivations and actions, running from them, manipulating and being manipulated by them, they remain a mystery to me. People confuse me. Food doesn't. (299) "I don't know, you see, how a normal person acts. I don't know how to behave outside my kitchen. I don't know the rules. I'm aware of them, sure, but I don't care to observe them anymore - because I haven't had to for so many years." (245) Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly displays Anthony Bourdain's philosophical character, the underpinnings of the everyday culinary world (not the reality tv one viewers soak up on food network), and an elemental truth that lacks the bulls*t we in customer service know to be the real restaurant industry. It's full of grit, funny moments, bizarre coworkers, hardworking latinos that go unappreciated, Italian gangsters, overly optimistic restaurant owners, and the scars physically and mentally being in food service create. Bourdain's voice almost goes in the direction of Hunter S. Thompson, guiding us through the culinary underbelly. He brings up his screw-ups, frequent drug use, and his constant state of outcast him and his fellow cooks, sous-chefs, waiters, and other coworkers are placed under. Anyone in the restaurant business will fully understand this book and what Bourdain is referring to. The bouncing around of restaurants feels repeated at times, but otherwise this was a fun romp inside of the world of cooking.

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