Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly

by Anthony Bourdain

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Overview

Anthony Bourdain, host of Parts Unknown, reveals "twenty-five years of sex, drugs, bad behavior and haute cuisine" in his breakout New York Times bestseller Kitchen Confidential.

Bourdain spares no one's appetite when he told all about what happens behind the kitchen door. Bourdain uses the same "take-no-prisoners" attitude in his deliciously funny and shockingly delectable book, sure to delight gourmands and philistines alike. From Bourdain's first oyster in the Gironde, to his lowly position as dishwasher in a honky tonk fish restaurant in Provincetown (where he witnesses for the first time the real delights of being a chef); from the kitchen of the Rainbow Room atop Rockefeller Center, to drug dealers in the east village, from Tokyo to Paris and back to New York again, Bourdain's tales of the kitchen are as passionate as they are unpredictable.

Kitchen Confidential will make your mouth water while your belly aches with laughter. You'll beg the chef for more, please.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781596917248
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Publication date: 12/10/2008
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 18,423
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Chef and author Anthony Bourdain wrote the New York Times bestselling memoirs Kitchen Confidential, Medium Raw, and A Cook's Tour; the collection The Nasty Bits; the novels Bone in the Throat, The Bobby Gold Stories, and Gone Bamboo; the biography Typhoid Mary; and the cookbooks Appetites and Les Halles Cookbook.

Bourdain was the host of the Emmy and Peabody Award–winning docuseries Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown on CNN, and prior to that hosted the Emmy Award–winning No Reservations and The Layover on the Travel Channel and The Taste on ABC.
Anthony Bourdain was the bestselling author of Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, and the author of the novels: Bone in the Throat, The Bobby Gold Stories and Gone Bamboo. His work appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker and Food Arts magazine. He was the host of the international CNN television series Parts Unknown.

Hometown:

New York, New York

Date of Birth:

June 25, 1956

Date of Death:

June 8, 2018

Place of Birth:

New York, New York

Place of Death:

Kaysersberg-Vignoble, Haut-Rhin, France

Education:

High school diploma, Dwight Englewood School, 1973; A.O.S. degree, The Culinary Institute of America, 1978

Read an Excerpt

"In that unforgettably sweet moment of my youth, that one moment still more alive for me than so many of the other 'firsts' that followed, I attained glory. Monsieur Saint Jour beckoned me over to the gunwale where he leaned over, reached down until his head nearly disappeared underwater, and emerged, holding a single silt-encrusted oyster. It was huge and irregularly shaped in his rough fist. With a snubby, rusted oyster knife, he popped the thing open and handed it to me, everyone watching now, my little brother shrinking away from this glistening, dripping, vaguely sexual-looking object. I took it in my hand, tilted the shell back into my mouth as instructed by Monsieur Saint Jour and, with one bite and a slurp, wolfed it down. It tasted of seawater, of brine and flesh, and somehow . . . of the future." —from Kitchen Confidential

Table of Contents

Appetizer
A Note from the Chef3
First Course
Food Is Good9
Food Is Sex19
Food Is Pain25
Inside the CIA36
The Return of Mal Carne45
Second Course
Who Cooks?55
From Our Kitchen to Your Table64
How to Cook Like the Pros75
Owner's Syndrome and Other Medical Anomalies84
Bigfoot91
Third Course
I Make My Bones105
The Happy Time120
Chef of the Future!128
Apocalypse Now134
The Wilderness Years144
What I Know About Meat153
Pino Noir: Tuscan Interlude163
Dessert
A Day in the Life183
Sous-Chef206
The Level of Discourse221
Other Bodies229
Adam Real-Last-Name-Unknown235
Department of Human Resources246
Coffee and a Cigarette
The Life of Bryan255
Mission to Tokyo272
So You Want to Be a Chef? A Commencement Address293
Kitchen's Closed300

Reading Group Guide

"Hysterical…Bourdain gleefully rips through the scenery to reveal private backstage horrors." -- New York Times Book Review
Summary

From appetizer to main course to dessert, bestselling author and world renowned chef Anthony Bourdain takes you behind the swinging doors and into the bustling core of the nation's restaurants, exposing as never before the shocking, hilarious, untold world of cooks and chefs. Bourdain's honest and entertaining account of the many successes and failures he has experienced throughout his career is as engrossing as it is eye-opening. His beautiful "elegy" to his body -- the many scars, aches, and pains, the abused hands he longed for -- in the closing chapter is a true testament to a life well spent in the trenches of cooking.

Topics for Discussion
  • What was your first instinct after finishing Kitchen Confidential? Did you want to run out and eat at Les Halles, never eat at another restaurant again, throw out all of your knives?

  • Throughout Bourdain's memoir, he attempts to impart to the reader his adventurous spirit when it comes to trying different types of food. Did he inspire you to try something new? What is the most daring food you have ever eaten?

  • How do you think Bourdain defines a "foodie"? Do you agree?

  • How have American attitudes toward food changed in the past decade? How are these changes chronicled throughout Kitchen Confidential?

  • Bourdain introduces the reader to many of the more elaborate and extreme characters of the cooking world -- Tyrone, the broilerman; "Bigfoot"; Nando, the Rainbow Room's famous pastry chef.... Which are yourfavorites? Who do you hope never touched your food?

  • Despite his machismo and unstoppable four-letter language, Bourdain becomes an endearing character himself throughout the course of his memoir. How did you feel as you witnessed his growth throughout Kitchen Confidential? In the end, he claims he is an "asshole." What do you think?

  • Bourdain talks about when he first realized "that food was something other than a substance one stuffed in one's face when hungry." What role has food played in your life -- while growing up and today -- beyond simple sustenance? Why are food and psychology so inextricably linked in our lives?

  • Despite the celebrity chefs that abound today, do you think that Bourdain typifies the lifestyle of the normal chef?

  • Are you -- or have you ever been -- in the food industry? If so, how apt are Bourdain's descriptions of the life?

  • What was Bourdain's most helpful piece of advice for you as a home cook? About the Author: Anthony Bourdain is the author of the novels Bone in the Throat and Gone Bamboo. He is currently the executive chef at Brasserie Les Halles in New York and can be seen on the Food Network.

  • Foreword

    Things are different now.

    When I wrote Kitchen Confidential, I was still working the line. I'd get up at 5 or 6 in the morning, light up a smoke, and start typing. I'd try to get in a couple of hours at the computer, then I'd drag a razor across my face, hail a cab and go straight to work. Usually, I'd work the saut&#eacute; station for lunch, do my orders in the afternoon, then hang around until nine or ten expediting. The chapter, Day In The Life is a pretty accurate representation of a typical Friday for me at that time.

    So I didn't have time to craft artful lies and evasions even if I'd wanted to. I wasn't intending to write an expos&#eacute;, didn't want to "rip the lid off the restaurant business" and frankly couldn't have cared less about recycled bread or the whole "fish on Monday" thing. I was not -- and am not -- an advocate for change in the restaurant business. I like the business just the way it is. What I set out to do was write a book that my fellow cooks and restaurant lifers would find entertaining and true. I wanted it to sound like me talking, at say..ten P.M. on a Saturday night, after a busy dinner rush, me and a few cooks hanging around the kitchen, knocking back a few beers and talking shit. You will notice that the tone of the book is blustery, that there is rather more than a little testosterone on the page, that I make the occasional sweeping generalization. That was entirely intentional. Chefs, on occasion, are guilty of such things. I had no expectation that anyone -- other than a few burnt-out line cooks, curious chefs and tormented loners would ever read the thing.

    Those who did read the book, I was determined, would not be saying, "This is bogus, mann..!" I did not want my colleagues wondering "What cooks talk like this? This is bullshit! Who is this fucking guy?" I wanted to write in Kitchenese, the secret language of cooks, instantly recognizable to anyone who has ever dunked french fries for a summer job, or suffered under the despotic rule of a tyrannical chef or boobish owner. I wanted my little memoir/rant to reflect the somewhat claustrophobic world-view of the professional cook -- that slightly paranoid, fiercely territorial mix of pride and resignation which allows so many of us to get up every morning and do the things we do. I did, to be honest, understand that there would be members of the general public upset by some of the things I talked about. The adversarial way we cooks tend to look at the civilians who fill our dining rooms, if desribed honestly, was bound to cause unhappiness - and a lot of people would rather not talk about some of the corner-cutting and "merchandising" so many of us have seen on our way up and way down the greasy pole. I just didn't care. I even liked the idea -- of goosing the general public a little. I hadn't really written the book for them anyway. This book was for cooks. Professional cooks.

    The new celebrity chef culture is a remarkable and admittedly annoying phenomenon. While it's been nothing but good for business -- and for me personally, many of us in the life can't help snickering about it. Of all the professions, after all, few people are less suited to be suddenly be thrown into the public eye than chefs. We're used to doing what we do in private, behind closed doors. We're used to using language that many would find..well...offensive, to say the least. We probably got in the business in the first place because interacting with normal people in a normal workspace was impossible or unattractive to us. Many of us don't know how to behave in public -- and don't care to find out. Fans of our many TV chefs, and the multitudes of people identified as "foodies" have come to believe, it appears, that chefs are adorable, cuddly creatures who wear spotless white uniforms and are all too happy to give them a taste of whatever they're whipping up at the time. The truth, as professionals well know, us somewhat different. What's been lost in all this food-crazy, chef and restaurant-obsessed nonsense is that cooking is hard -- that the daily demands of turning out the same plates the same way over and over and over again require skills other than -- and less telegenic than -- catch-phrases and a talent for schmoozing.

    "What has reaction been from your peers?" was the most asked question in the flurry of media attention that followed the publication of this book "Benedict Arnold! Alger Hiss" shrieked some writers. So-called "restaurant insiders" and "foodies" were said to be outraged. The truth? I have never had so many free meals and free drinks come my way in my life. Chefs who only a few months earlier I would not have considered myself worthy of laundering their socks, greeted me warmly, insisted on dragging me in to their kitchens to commiserate with their staffs. On book tour -- all over the US and United Kingdom -- in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, Philly, DC, Boston -- in London, Glasgow, rural Bristol, Manchester, and elsewhere -- chefs and cooks would turn out for signings to say hello, share stories, lure me away to buy drinks. After too many meals on planes or out of hotel mini-bars (the book tour diet), I'd slip off to a restaurant in a strange city, sit down at the bar, order a beer and an appetizer - and strange and wonderful things would happen; amuse geules would appear, one course after another, appropriate glasses of wine, little tastes of cheese, desserts. I'd look over towards the kitchen, and some wise-ass cook - a total stranger would be giving me the thumbs-up from behind the kitchen door. Slophouses and temples of haute cuisine alike -- both here and abroad -- I'd see the same expressions on cooks' faces -- that wary, cynical, expect-the-worst-and-you'll-never-be-disappointed look so familiar to so many of us.

    Yet, all of them were friendly.

    And there were moments of real irony and wonder: One day, in my kitchen at Les Halles, the phone rang and some French guy is talking to me, inviting me up to his restaurant to meet, talk, have a little lunch. "Who is this?" I inquired. " It's Eric Ripert," the voice said. My knees turned to custard. This was like -- like...Joe Di Maggio calling up to say "Let's throw the ball around the back yard together, sport." Things were different, boy...I could see that now -- I got my heroes calling me up. Andre Soltner, funnily enough, after my assertion that he would most definitely not be inviting me on any ski weekends, in fact did invite me skiing. (Babe Ruth on line one!). Bob Kinkead, in spite of my egregiously misspelling his name in the hardback edition, was wonderful to me as soon as I wandered into his restaurant, and plied me with spectacular food. Norman Van Aken came calling, congratulated me and shared some stories of his own early years in the Wilderness. (He also asked me nicely to lay off his pal Emeril -- who, he informed me, is actually a very sweet, soft spoken guy who can actually cook). Gary Danko fed me for free. I don't think he'd read the book, but his cooks, a particularly piratical mob of pierced and scarred hooligans, seemed to like the book -- so he extended me great courtesy. Chefs with whom I'd thought I'd had nothing in common showed me there is indeed a shared mindset, an appreciation of the dark and adrenelin-jacked culture we all share.

    I found myself the poster boy for bad behavior in the kitchen.

    I'm asked a lot what the best thing about cooking for a living is. And it's this: To be a part of a subculture. To be part of a historical continuum, a secret society with its own language and customs. To enjoy the instant gratification of making something good with one's hands -- using all one's senses. It can be, at times, the purest and most unselfish way of giving pleasure (though oral sex has to be a close second).

    Things are different now. I've changed. I've had to. I've learned, God help me, to behave -- for somewhat more extended periods of time than I'm used to. I can speak in sound bites when called upon to do so. I know what "back-end" and "points" refer to -- kind of. I have health insurance for the first time in my life. I'm actually current on my rent. And sadly, I work much, much less in my beloved kitchen at Les Halles. If I've betrayed anybody in my profession -- it's my cooks, who I feel I've abandoned as I swan around the world flogging my books on television. For a while, it looked like my tiny kitchen was going to be the most photographed part of America -behind Dealey Plaza. Angel, my garde-manger briefly considered getting a publicist, and Manuel, the fry guy, can now light a room, ("Try the peenk gel chef!") and every cook in my kitchen knows just when to suck in their gut for the camera. I'm the chef I always hated as a cook, always coming from or going to someplace else. My hands -- which I'm so proud of in the final pages of the book--are soft and lovely now--like a little baby girl's.

    I suck.

    I comfort myself that I was reaching the end of my usefulness as a line cook anyway. Too old, my knees getting bad from all those knee-bends into the low-boys, my expediting abilities diminished with age and the ravages of alcohol. They were going to be hauling me off to the glue factory anyway one of these days, I like to tell myself. Where the old chefs go. (What happens to old chefs anyway? Where do they go? I always imagined a scenario like in Goodfellas, you know--"Tony, you sit in the front seat there. Good. Let Steven sit in the back." Then BOOM! Two behind the ear. No such luck. Old chefs sell out. Or they die.)

    Fortunately, the important people in my life have been completely unimpressed by swinging new Hefneresque vida loca, . " Hey, baby! I'm on CNN tonight! I'm a best-selling motherfuckin' author!" I'll tell my wife, who inevitably responds, " Yeah yeah yeah. What's on CourtTV?" Steven will call from Florida after yet another segment showing me grimacing at the camera and warning the dining public about the dangers of brunch. "You are soooo gay," he'll say. "You suck, dude." Then he'll turn up the volume on some fucking Billy Joel or Elton John song he's got on the radio -- just cause he knows how much I hate that shit.

    Easily, the happiest development to come from all of this unexpected notoriety is the cooks I've been able to meet. The recognition that this thing of ours is worldwide -- that the outlaw spirit survives -- even in the kitchens of the best of chefs -- that somewhere, in the darkest part of their hearts, all cooks know how different they are from everybody else, and relish their apartness.

    This book was a nice-sized score for me, after a long life living hand-to-mouth, bouncing around from restaurant to restaurant, hustling a living, any hopes of ataining the peaks of Culinary Olympus long abandoned. "Nice to see one of the home team win one," said a cook in Boston. The only people who seem to really hate me for this book are the folks who write articles on mayonnaise and "fun with french fries" for a living -- and of course vegetarians -- but they don't get enough animal protein to get really angry. Chefs and cooks -- even waitrons have been wonderful. I'd forgotten when I wrote this thing, how many people work in the restaurant business -- and as signifigantly, how many have at one time or another worked in the business. And whether they're now sitting behind a desk or piloting their own Lear jet, many of them apparently miss it. It was the last time they could say what they wanted in the workplace. The last time they could behave like savages, go home feeling proud and tired at the same time. The last time they could fuck somebody in the linen closet and have it not mean anything too serious. or stay out all night and wake up on the floor. The last time they found themselves close with people from every corner of the world, of every race, proclivity, religion and background. The restaurant business is perhaps, the last meritocracy -- where what we do is all that matters. I'm not even out of the life and I miss it already. I think I'll swing by Les Halles and do a little expediting. I feel safe there.

    This is for the cooks.

    November 20, 2000 New York City

    Customer Reviews

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    Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 713 reviews.
    DianeLorraine More than 1 year ago
    Not for the faint of heart. A raucous and raw trip inside the restaurant biz. From nuts and bolts to totally obscure characters, and sometimes disturbing andecdotes, Bourdain delights the senses and the mind with his hilarious and detailed tales of the dark side of the industry. with his own brand of smarts and charm he takes you through his childhood adventures in France up to owning his own succcesful restaurant in New York. He touches on Universal truths throughout the business as well as his own sometimes touching and oftentimes unreal personal experiences. For anyone who loves to dine, who works in restaurants or has thought about it, this is a must read. Never a dull moment.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I am an Anthony Bourdain tv fan. I've watched all his shows esp. No Reservations and Parts Unknown. I love all the places and different foods he tries and the people he meets. It was good to read and find out how he started being a chef. It certainly isn't an easy life but one he loves.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    When I was a kid, I wanted to be a chef. After reading this book, there is no way I could have survived as one.
    Mannadonn More than 1 year ago
    First off I have to say¿I love this man! Bourdain¿s book is arrogant, crude, bullying, and egotistical and I loved every word, every line, every put-down, and every cuss word! Though this book was filled with technical terms and names of chefs that I have never heard of, Bourdain mentions in the preface that the book was originally intended for other chefs¿not for the general layperson. I read it anyway.

    I was introduced to Anthony Bourdain by a friend via his television show ¿No Reservations.¿ I immediately fell in love with his holier-than-thou, better-than-most attitude. Maybe it is the thrill and fascination of the ¿bad boy¿ but I could not stop watching the show. Discovering that he had written a book was the icing on the cake.

    The book is not a summary or recollection of his travels through different countries, cultures, and foods with his show. I believe that is contained in another book. Instead this book was more of a memoir; Bourdain¿s journey through the culinary trenches and godforsaken kitchens. Bourdain reminisces over his childhood and the cold soup that awakened his taste buds, the oyster that aroused his ensuing passion for food.

    Bourdain may be a condescending a**hole but he seems humbled by some of his experiences and the people he has admired over the years. I enjoyed the fact that he wrote an afterword that made certain apologies to some individuals he had criticized throughout his book and his time as a chef. However, a friend of mine hated the fact that he made apologies. She feels that if he is going to be a supercilious bastard he should make no apologies for such behavior.

    This book detailed many disgusting habits of the kitchens he worked in. Bourdain provides the reader with thorough descriptions of foods he has cooked and foods he enjoyed eating¿and if you know Anthony Bourdain you know he enjoys some un-American fare. Eating the gelatinous goo from behind the eyeball of the fishhead he was enjoying has remained in my head.

    The reader who picks up this book is in for an intense ride. A love of food, cooking, or Bourdain himself is recommended before delving into this six-course book. I definitely have no complaints about this book. But hey¿who am I? Just a lowly reviewer with an unsettling attraction to Anthony Bourdain that¿s who.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I like Anthony Bourdains writing style and have always wanted to work in a kitchen. After reading this book I realized I could never cut it a fast paced culinary environment. Down and dirty portrayal of how it is to run a kitchen and the kind of people it attracts. If you like his writing style you like this book.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    A very enjoyable and easy quick read... and I'm glad he went a little easier on Emeril towards the end.
    barbaraRT More than 1 year ago
    I had read this fascinating biography before so I was happy to add it to my Nook library. Mr. Bourdain paints a very real picture of life as a professional chef.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    I read this book after watching a season of his show. This is a good book to read if you want information on the inner workingds of the restaurant business. Beware that the author lives a pretty rowdy lifestyle an uses the language to describe it. Do not purchase if you are easily ofended.
    LosLavolpista More than 1 year ago
    I had read somewhere that you would read quotes from this book out loud to friends. I didnt buy it, i'm not the type of person who would do that. But there i was drinking a beer and reading quotes from Bourdain and his understanding of spanish adj's derived from his kitchen staff to a friend. It was awesome... His interpretation of the language, different cultures, and terms were spot on. I was thinking in my head, "finally a man that gets it"...He understands the struggle of going from nowhere to somewhere, and adapting and surviving. That is Bourdain! a true tale of survival. Great book and goes well with a beer as well.
    risuena More than 1 year ago
    I absolutely love Anthony Bourdain's humor. He's cynical, direct, and witty. I admire his approach on life, food, and people. I watched his "No Reservations" show and was immediately thrilled to find he wrote books as well. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Kitchen Confidential and had a hard time putting it down, probably one of his best works! I think he's a great writer, narrator, and commentator.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    I have read A Year at the CIA and some other books about professional cooking, but this one offered the most unvarnished insight into what really happens in the kitchen. If you have every wondered how all the food for your table arrives at the same time when the resturant is packed to the rafters, then this book will entertain you. It could also turn you into a Howard Hughes germaphobe as well. The only drawback is sloppy editing. The author uses the same methaphors and analogies throughout the book and they become repititious and distracting. Needed a fresh set of eyes.
    GennaG More than 1 year ago
    Going into this book, I was excited but prepared to get through some boring beginning chapters like most books. Not true, at all. This book from the first chapter was non-stop. The countless stories of truth, hardship, and the struggle was a kick from the beginning. Tony perfectly illustrates the beauty of the culinary industry and the dark and dusty corners of it. Garnished with his humor the book is a masterpiece. He speaks upon universal truths about selfishness and the fact that there is always someone better than you. This book is NOT for children. However, everyone, I HIGHLEY recommend is to.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    After his sad death, I reread and just as great as I remembered. Funny, smart, and a little desperate. Well done, chef.
    nebreader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    I remember a couple years ago watching Anthony Bourdain's show, No Reservations, and being repulsed by the guy. I found him cocky, irritating and at times the show seemed to go nowhere. So when I would see him on, I'd turn the channel. I don't know when it happened or how it happened, but I started liking the guy. I started liking his show. Maybe it's like the first time you see a new model of car, and you think it's ugly. Sometime later you find yourself dreaming about buying one. At any rate I decided to read his book, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures In The Culinary Underbelly. I'm glad I did. This book chroniclesBourdain's relationship with food from the time he was a kid to becoming chef at Les Halles. It's well written, interesting, funny and as the subtitle states, one gets a look at the "culinary underbelly" from Bourdain's perspective. Bourdain started out in a privileged family but struck out on his own, landed a job as a dishwasher to pay bills, and his culinary career was born. From there you get to see both his humiliations and triumphs as he works his way up. He doesn't seem to pull any punches, he lays it all out, the drugs, the hard times and the fun he had. I think just about anyone would find this a good read, but if you're interested in what it's like working in a professional kitchens, I think you'll like it a lot.
    ngennaro on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    If you are a fan of Tony on the Food Network you will enjoy this book. Its gives you a perspective of his life and reads just like he talks/editorializes on the show.
    jontseng on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    A wonderful book full of pungent, muscular prose which the author then failed to live up to in later works. A case of the write guy at the right time.
    mcglothlen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    I didn't think this was the delight most people I know thought it was, but it was funny and that's something.
    Bookmarque on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Going into Kitchen Confidential I didn't have too many expectations. I knew vaguely who Anthony Bourdain was - a guy on some cable channel who jetted around the world eating the strangest stuff he could find and generally enjoying being Anthony Bourdain. Despite the attempt at a cautionary tale, that's the biggest message that comes across in KC - that it's good to be Anthony Bourdain no matter what idiotic and potentially life or career ending decisions he may have made. Others may try, but no one will exactly duplicate the mystical and dangerous journey that is his. Yes, Mr. Bourdain likes himself very, very much.And he likes food. All manner of food so long as it fits his definition of honest. Three Michelin star, diety inspired bistro and street meat vendor are equally admired and lauded for their contributions to what he thinks is honest. Woe betide you however if you approach your craft from a different angle or with different intentions; Bourdain will let you know the error of your ways in no uncertain terms. Wanker.The first few chapters of KC made me not want to set foot inside a restaurant again. Scary. Not that I didn't know it from previous reading (ok, ok it was one book, but still I sort of knew what a hellhole most kitchens really are), but this reinforced that. A few more chapters in and I amended my decision to only large restaurants with huge turnovers both of staff (but how will I know that?) and seats. The descriptions of life at The Rainbow Room was enough to put me off the place forever. Not that I plan to visit NYC at any time, but there it is.So what was me, a decided non-foodie doing reading a book like this anyway? Well I am a foodie, albeit a non-typical one. No, I've never worked in a restaurant - never even been a waitress or taken your order at Micky D's. No, I do not have nor do I read food blogs. Ok, yes, I watch the Food Channel occasionally, but I know it's schlock and full of "personalities" rather than real cooks. Ok, yes, I read Bon Appetit and Wine Spectator, but I do it from the viewpoint of an eater rather than a cook. I'm not even a particularly adventurous eater. My motto is no fewer than two legs no more than four.But I do know what I like and this book gave me a lot of information about how it's made and the kind of people who make it. Bourdain has a lot of experience and a decent turn of phrase (albeit a bit repetitive) and can spin a tale well. I wasn't put off by the vulgarity or the self-indulgent tone and I enjoyed it on the same level as pecan pie; one piece at a time - have too much and you end up sick and never wanting to eat pecan pie again.
    doxtator on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    We have both the audio book read by Anthony Bourdain as well as the glue-and-paper version, but we listened to the audio book during some long drives. It was fantastic and captivating. He's witty, snarky, irreverent, opinionated, full of foul language, and just great fun to listen to. The story is mostly autobiographical, although it focuses mainly on his working life and very little on his personal life unless it directly relates to being in the kitchen. He's unabashed in admitting his failures, which become great learning experiences given the long view and where he's ended up, but it's a rough life he's gone through. The listener-reader gets to travel the path with him, alternating between envy for some of the exciting adventures, and pure gladness not to have lived that harsh life at all. It provides a great jumping off point for those interested in the culinary arts about what to expect, and by providing commonsense business and management information in the form of anecdotes educates those who just like to eat out about what is going on where they can't see. By the end of the book, you know why you shouldn't eat Hollandaise sauce, and why you should never order fish on a Monday.
    kjflaherty on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    My older brother never reads. I'm pretty sure he's read 10 books in his life and 7 of them were required for school. I was shocked when he handed me this book and said, "this is so good, you gotta read it." So, of course, I started to read it right away and he was right! It was hilarious! Anyone who has ever worked in a restaurant will recognize someone they know or a situation they were in.
    njmom3 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    I was excited to read this book as an insider's look at the restaurant business. Unfortunately, I was disappointed. The view may or may not be an accurate one, but the tone of the book for me was shock value. The language used and some of the incidents described again may well be accurate but the descriptions were not necessary.
    kikilon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    A fun poke into the seedy culinary underbelly, from drugs to gluttony. An interesting insight into the non-glamorous life of a chef, and a great story. if you're interested in why you shouldn't order the shrimp cocktail at your favourite restaurant, this is the book for you.
    JechtShot on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    I have always been a fan of Anthony Bourdain's patented brand of snark on his various Television adventures. I was very pleased to find that this translates well to the page. I must admit, not being a foodie myself, that some of the language/foods/french references went a bit over my head, but that aside, it was still an excellent read. You can almost picture yourself sitting across from Tony at a bar, as he sips on a cocktail and takes a drag from his cigarette, telling you the tales of his culinary exploits.
    joannecatherine on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Fantastic writing! Funny, sad, a little snotty, Chef Bourdain tells restaurant secrets that enthrall and disgust. I realized that as sophisticated as I always thought I was (and if you have to say it, you aren't) I have never really eaten anything as beautiful as the food he describes. I'm a rube, his term for unsophisticated eaters. Wonderful read and several friends are getting copies for Christmas.
    bookworm12 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Bourdain's balls-to-the-wall memoir of his time as a chef is intense, but it's also mesmerizing. It's a behind-the-scenes view of the hectic, cutthroat world of cooking. I don't envy the lives of the people in this world, but they do fascinate me. I can't imagine choosing a life where every weekend night is spent serving other people, who rarely appreciate your skill. Chefs and kitchen staff are hired and fired with the speed of a rapidly revolving door. Tempers flare easily and the consequences are rough. It's all drugs, sex, but no rock 'n' roll. Bourdain's writing style makes the crazy life enthralling. He is ruthless in his descriptions of people he has worked with, but he doesn't exclude himself from that same tough scrutiny. His passion for food is contagious. The language and descriptions are rough, so this isn't for everyone. But if you can take it, it's absolutely entertaining.