Anthony Bourdain published Kitchen Confidential back in 2000, before he became the mega-hit that he is now. I think at the time, he had published a couple of novels and made a bit of a name for himself as a chef in New York City. Now, of course, he’s on every 5 minutes on the Food Channel — so it’s neat to catch a glimpse of his beginnings.
“I’ve long believed that good food, good eating, is all about risk. Whether we’re talking about unpasteurized Stilton, raw oysters or working for organized crime ‘associates,’ food, for me, has always been an adventure”
Bourdain gives us a brief history of his fascination with food, to start. Most influential on his love of cooking was incredible trip to France when he was nine or so, during which he and his brother complained constantly about the food (no chicken nuggets?!?) until Bourdain discovered the pleasures of cold soup at his aunt’s house. Apparently the idea that soup could be cold blew his little mind, and he spent the rest of the trip trying every weird thing he could. The biggest focus of the book, however, is the behind-the-scenes stuff. Bourdain describes the various kitchens he has worked in during his cooking career — loud, full of cursing and crude sexual references, and generally populated with people who couldn’t imagine working anywhere else. Basically — have you seen Waiting…? It’s pretty much just like that. He also spills secrets on the restaurant industry — why you shouldn’t order the fish special on Monday, or request your steak well-done.
There are definitely parts of the book that drag — some of the “we’re so crazy in the kitchen!” stuff gets a little repetitive — but overall, Bourdain’s writing is funny and interesting, and the book contains quite a few fascinating facts.