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Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly Review

When anybody asks me who is my favourite writer, they are always surprised when I tell them Anthony Bourdain. Why? He makes anything he writes about funny, and can find the truly absurd humanity in the strange of places.

While ou may know ‘Tony from his work on TV, his career arguably started with his book “Kitchen Confidential”

So, today I will be doing a quick summary of the book, and review so you can understand whether it is worth your time or not.

 

About Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain was an American celebrity chef, author, and television personality. He was born in New York City in 1956 and grew up in Leonia, New Jersey. As he details in his book he attended the Culinary Institute of America, graduating in 1978 – an endeavour he excelled at after spending years in the trenches of a ‘real’ kitchen.

He went on to become an executive chef at Brasserie Les Halles in New York City, where he was working when he published his book in 1999 which thrust him into the limelight.

He hosted the popular television series No Reservations, The Layover, and Parts Unknown, all of which aired on the Travel Channel and CNN. He won several Emmy Awards for his television work. He died by suicide in 2018 while filming in France. His posthumous works include the cookbook World Travel: An Irreverent Guide and the documentary series Anthony Bourdain: Explore Parts Unknown. A recent documentary named ‘Roadrunner’ details his times, work, life and death. A must-see. 

 

 

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly review

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly is somewhat of a memoir that chronicles Anthony’s journey from a young man searching for a career to a successful chef – or at the very least, just a chef.

In his book, Bourdain recounts his experiences in the kitchens of his youth, and the big time in New York City which includes the gritty stories of backstabbing, drug use, criminality, violence, mental illness and workings of the under-culture of the culinary world.

While reading the book these days may seem quite underwhelming, when the book was published, Tony blew the lid on some of the best-kept secrets in the industry. A famous one is his proclamation not to order fish on a Tuesday, and stories of well know gangsters who ran new york kitchens in the same way they ran the streets.

What the book really is, is for his fellow chefs, cooks, porters and kitchen staff. One big sarcastically romantic nostalgic look at an industry that many fall into, rather than choose. He does not hold back from exposing the underbelly of a pretentious industry much to the amusement of those who, like Bourdain, live their lives at unsociable hours and burning their hands to the bone. He tears open the pomp of the Cullenry institute of Food and its sheer pointlessness (at least in terms of producing proper chefs) and let’s rip on the well know practices of chefs to use up food way, way, way past its sell-by date.

Although he clearly hates the food industry, it is clear the hatred comes from his love and passion for doing food right.

More than anything, the book is funny – almost a comedy. It is heartfelt, educational and written in Bourdain’s caustic tone which adds levity and wit.

If you’re a foodie or somebody who works in the catering industry then you’ll love the book for sure. You’ll be in on all the jokes, you’ll see yourself in Bourdain’s shoes and you’ll read about people you swear you know.

This is an easy reading, comical and entertaining look behind the pass of the kitchen and exposes of how the after-hours team of pirates make the machine work.

 

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