Title: Kitchen Confidential
Author/Narrator: Anthony Bourdain
Published: 2000; Pages: 320
Audio Duration: 8 hrs
Rating: Shocking and Entertaining
In Short: Bourdain looks back at his start in the culinary world as he moved through the ranks of the NYC restaurant world–part memoir, part exposé, entirely entertaining.
Why I Listened: I wish I could remember who specifically prompted me to download this one, but I saw it several times on the Weekend Cooking link-up and thought it would make for a fun listen. Good thing I didn’t listen during our family roadtrip like I had planned. Bourdain’s language is quite…ahem…colorful.
Thoughts in General: Oh good golly miss molly. I’ve been thinking about this post for weeks and I’m still not really sure where to start with Bourdain and Kitchen Confidential. I was mildly familiar with Bourdain before going into my listening–seeing him on the Travel channel eating all sorts of really bizarre foods. And this is exactly where Bourdain starts his book–as a child and daredevilishly downing raw oysters must to the disgust of his family. From there it became a kind of addiction and eventually led way to his interest in all things culinary.
Throughout much of the book, Bourdain divulges what goes on inside the busy kitchens of hot New York restaurants. This is framed by Bourdain’s own move from the bottom rungs of the kitchen ladder further to the top. While much of the book feels like a kind of gossip column–who was working with whom and who was high on what kinds of drugs and what fantastical creations which chefs were making at which restaurants. It certainly doesn’t sound of interest, but it was an incredibly wild ride and Bourdain had me by the ear the entire time.
And I learned a lot, too. I learned about the best knives to use the kitchen and some of the more premium ingredients I can use to kick up my dishes a notch (I’ve only ever bought one shallot but perhaps it’s time for me to use them more). And shame on me for using that garlic press. Ha! And after listening to Kitchen Confidential, I will never again order the fish on Monday.
Bottom Line: Even when I couldn’t have cared less about the stories Bourdain was telling, I was still thoroughly engaged. I couldn’t even tell you why you might find this book interesting, but if you’re looking for a story that will make you laugh, that will leave your mouth hanging open, and that will keep you turning the pages (see note on audio), I definitely recommend Kitchen Confidential.
Notes on the Audio: One of the best I’ve listened to. Bourdain was the perfect narrator for his own stories. He was fast talking but perfectly timed. He was expressive and emphatic. This is the only way I can imagine experiencing this book and I highly recommend the audio. There were a few moments of editing blips–where the tone of voice changed–but these were small distractions in the grand scheme.
Are you a fan of Bourdain? Have you watched any of his shows or read any of his books?
Linking up with:
Every weekend, Beth Fish Reads hosts Weekend Cooking. “Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs.” Hope you’ll join the fun!