Saturday, January 15, 2011

Book Review -- Kitchen Confidential

Kitchen Confidential
Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly
Anthony Bourdain
Copyright 2000

Bourdain and Ripert

After seeing Anthony Bourdain on television’s Top Chef as a guest judge and his own series No Reservations, I found his persona charming and fascinating and every time I heard about his acclaimed memoir Kitchen Confidential, I thought “I need to read that book.”  I was prodded by a public event with Bourdain and master chef Eric Ripert in Indianapolis.  I wanted to see them and knew a book signing would ensue.  

Ripert Signing

Kitchen Confidential is mainly a memoir, revolving around Anthony Bourdain’s culinary career before television.  One of the reasons the book was so attractive to me was what I’d already heard about it…how Bourdain “exposes” secrets of the restaurant world.  When I read it, I was less shocked by some of the food handling and procuring methods, but just realizing how difficult, if not grueling, food preparation really is for cooks.  So this book explains Bourdain’s journey from his youth and newfound love of food, to culinary school and finally to the world of restaurant cooking in New York City. 

While his writing is infused with humor and self-deprecation, I was drawn to the serious side of his career path, his addictions and his very deep passion and respect for the food.  I enjoyed the toggling between descriptions of sociopathic kitchen antics, to restaurant planning 101 to his delight of new places or admiration for other chefs and/or restaurateurs.   I am mainly amazed that this man who seemed to have lived such a full and often wreck less life wrote this book before his illustrious television career even started.  In other words, this book describes a pretty full career and yet he was just getting started.  Wow. 


The walk away from this book speaks to so many folks.  It’s like an anthropological look into the restaurant world as well as a beginners guide for foodies who want to learn some key terms.  It also gives you insight to a man who we really enjoy watching and listening to.  His chapter about his trip to Tokyo is foreshadowing of his television series.  I have his most recent book to read next  -- Medium Raw – and I’m looking forward to it.

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