Friday, August 13, 2010

Kitchen Confidential

I've been quite a fan of Anthony Bourdain for some time, mostly from watching his show "No Reservations" on the Travel Channel. I've always wanted to read his book, "Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly," but for some reason I would never remember to pick it up at Boarders or I would pass it by. I finally purchased the book this week that made Bourdain a culinary star and it was on the buy one get one half off rack, bonus! From the cover:

"A deliciously funny, delectably shocking banquet of wild-but-true tales of life in the culinary trade from Chef Anthony Bourdain, laying out his more than a quarter-century of drugs, sex, and haute cuisine—now with all-new, never-before-published material."

First off, if you currently work or have ever worked in the restaurant industry you have to read this book. Everything he describes going on in a kitchen is undeniably true. So it wasn't just my experience that restaurants employ some of the most insane and bizarre fringe elements in society. It's a crazy half rock-n-roll half mercenary life style that made me long to sling drinks in a bar or expedite food on a kitchen line, eagerly waiting to close up the restaurant and finish the night with heavy excesses of all sort, getting up the next day to rinse and repeat.

The chapters not only consist of his crazy experiences with alcohol, drugs, sex and crazy characters, which is great, but he also details several other aspects of the restaurant industry. Some of these include what you should or should not eat in restaurants, a typical Friday night at his restaurant at Les Halles, the origins of his love for food, and some of his heroes in the profession over the years.

Bourdain is an excellent writer and the book is one of the best I've read this year in spite of being published in 2000. He definitely has a gift with vocabulary and a wonderful handle on every imaginable way to curse in conversation or at someone, a must needed skill when working in any kitchen. In spite of being a smartass, Bourdain is at heart, I think, a softy and, as he tells the reader, a sentimental guy. I look forward to reading some of his other books. My highest recommendation.

Perhaps in the near future I'll write up some the more obscene adventures I experienced over the years in Oklahoma City's culinary underbelly.

Next up, back to the world of Chelsea Handler.


Amanda said...

I've been wanting to read this book too. I liked the short lived TV show they based on the book.

I did my share of restaraunt work and none of it involved alcohol, sex or drugs.

Dave said...

I did a stint in four different restaurants in various positions and none of them didn't involve alcohol, sex or drugs! Not that I was necessarily doing all of that but it was definitely prevalent.