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Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; 1 edition (May 22, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 158234082X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582340821
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,309 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,882 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Most diners believe that their sublime sliver of seared foie gras, topped with an ethereal buckwheat blini and a drizzle of piquant huckleberry sauce, was created by a culinary artist of the highest order, a sensitive, highly refined executive chef. The truth is more brutal. More likely, writes Anthony Bourdain in Kitchen Confidential, that elegant three-star concoction is the collaborative effort of a team of "wacked-out moral degenerates, dope fiends, refugees, a thuggish assortment of drunks, sneak thieves, sluts, and psychopaths," in all likelihood pierced or tattooed and incapable of uttering a sentence without an expletive or a foreign phrase. Such is the muscular view of the culinary trenches from one who's been groveling in them, with obvious sadomasochistic pleasure, for more than 20 years. CIA-trained Bourdain, currently the executive chef of the celebrated Les Halles, wrote two culinary mysteries before his first (and infamous) New Yorker essay launched this frank confessional about the lusty and larcenous real lives of cooks and restaurateurs. He is obscenely eloquent, unapologetically opinionated, and a damn fine storyteller--a Jack Kerouac of the kitchen. Those without the stomach for this kind of joyride should note his opening caveat: "There will be horror stories. Heavy drinking, drugs, screwing in the dry-goods area, unappetizing industry-wide practices. Talking about why you probably shouldn't order fish on a Monday, why those who favor well-done get the scrapings from the bottom of the barrel, and why seafood frittata is not a wise brunch selection.... But I'm simply not going to deceive anybody about the life as I've seen it." --Sumi Hahn

From Publishers Weekly

Chef at New York's Les Halles and author of Bone in the Throat, Bourdain pulls no punches in this memoir of his years in the restaurant business. His fast-lane personality and glee in recounting sophomoric kitchen pranks might be unbearable were it not for two things: Bourdain is as unsparingly acerbic with himself as he is with others, and he exhibits a sincere and profound love of good food. The latter was born on a family trip to France when young Bourdain tasted his first oyster, and his love has only grown since. He has attended culinary school, fallen prey to a drug habit and even established a restaurant in Tokyo, discovering along the way that the crazy, dirty, sometimes frightening world of the restaurant kitchen sustains him. Bourdain is no presentable TV version of a chef; he talks tough and dirty. His advice to aspiring chefs: "Show up at work on time six months in a row and we'll talk about red curry paste and lemon grass. Until then, I have four words for you: 'Shut the fuck up.' " He disdains vegetarians, warns against ordering food well done and cautions that restaurant brunches are a crapshoot. Gossipy chapters discuss the many restaurants where Bourdain has worked, while a single chapter on how to cook like a professional at home exhorts readers to buy a few simple gadgets, such as a metal ring for tall food. Most of the book, however, deals with Bourdain's own maturation as a chef, and the culmination, a litany describing the many scars and oddities that he has developed on his hands, is surprisingly beautiful. He'd probably hate to hear it, but Bourdain has a tender side, and when it peeks through his rough exterior and the wall of four-letter words he constructs, it elevates this book to something more than blustery memoir. (May)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Chef, author, and raconteur Anthony Bourdain is best known for traveling the globe on his stomach, daringly consuming some of the world's most exotic dishes on his hit TV shows Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations and The Layover. Somewhat notoriously, he has established himself as a professional gadfly, bête noir, advocate, social critic, and pork enthusiast, recognized for his caustic sense of humor worldwide. He is as unsparing of those things he hates, as he is evangelical about his passions.

The "chef-at-large" at New York's famed Brasserie Les Halles, Bourdain is the author of the bestselling Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, a candid, hysterical, and sometimes shocking portrait of life in restaurant kitchens that has been translated into more than 28 languages - as well as the travel journal, A Cook's Tour, 3 crime novels, a cookbook, a biography of Typhoid Mary, the bestselling graphic novel Get JIRO!, and others.

His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Times of London, Bon Appetit, Gourmet and many other publications. He has shared his insights about team building and crisis management with the Harvard Business Review. He has been profiled by CBS Sunday Morning and Nightline, and has been a guest on The Late Show with David Letterman, Morning Joe, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, The Daily Show, Charlie Rose, The Colbert Report, and Real Time with Bill Maher.

Bourdain joined the writing staff of HBO's Treme in 2011, contributing to the popular drama's restaurant storylines. He recently launched his own publishing line with Ecco, Anthony Bourdain Books, an imprint of HarperCollins. His first titles will be released in early 2013.

No Reservations, widely popular all over the world, has won two Emmy Awards, with several other nominations. 2013 will see the premiere of two new television shows hosted by Bourdain: The Taste, a cooking competition series for ABC with Nigella Lawson, and a travel docu-series for CNN.

Customer Reviews

Great book, and a very entertaining read.
LJLady
Anthony Bourdain Executive Chef at Les Halles in New York City tells all in his book Kitchen Confidential.
John P Roach Jr
One thing I like about Bourdain and this book is that he tells the truth even when it's ugly.
Robert I. Hedges

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

204 of 214 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 2, 2000
Format: Hardcover
In this book, Anthony Bourdain, executive chef at New York's Brasserie Les Halles, takes us on a wild ride through that city's food supply industry that includes surprises such as heavy drinking, drugs, debauchery, Mafiosi and assorted seedy personalities.
It is clear that Bourdain enjoys a true passion for both food and cooking, a passion he inherited from the French side of his family. He tells us he decided to become a chef during a trip to southwestern France when he was only ten years of age and it is a decision he stuck to, graduating from the Culinary Institute of America.
Kitchen Confidential is a surprisingly well-written account of what life is really like in the commercial kitchens of the United States; "the dark recesses of the restaurant underbelly." In describing these dark recesses, Bourdain refreshingly casts as many stones at himself as he does at others. In fact, he is brutally honest. There is nothing as tiresome as a "tell-all" book in which the author relentlessly paints himself as the unwitting victim. Bourdain, to his enormous credit, avoids this trap. Maybe he writes so convincingly about drugs and alcohol because drugs and alcohol have run their course through his veins as well as those of others.
The rather raunchy "pirate ship" stories contained in this fascinating but testosterone-rich book help to bring it vividly to life and add tremendous credibility. The book does tend to discourage any would-be female chefs who might read it, but that's not Bourdain's fault; he is simply telling it like it is and telling it hilariously as well.
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149 of 164 people found the following review helpful By abt1950 on April 26, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is a fascinating, alternately hilarious and appalling account of one chef's career in the restaurant buisness. Bourdain, now the Executive Chef at Les Halles in New York, regales the reader with a behind-the-scenes look at the kitchens of "gourmet" restaurants he has worked and the characters he has known. To call his account (and his fellow workers) "colorful" is an understatement.

There is much to like in this book. Occasional insights into why ordering fish on Monday is not such a good idea (it's left over from Thursday's delivery) and the logistics of running a major restaurant are fascinating. Also, the anecdotes about management style and successful vs. unsuccessful restaurants make for interesting reading. Bourdain demolishes the mystique of cooking as an art to be mastered by only a few. From his perspective, cooking is a craft that can be learned through grit, endurance, and hard knocks. As he points out, the mainstays of his and many other kitchens are immigrants from Ecuador, Mexico, Bengal and elsewhere who are taught how to recreate consistently and under pressure dishes as directed by the chef. Restaurant work is not easy, and only the strong survive. It's a war out there--and the kitchen is the combat zone.

That said, "Kitchen Confidential" is an uneven book that should have had a good editing. The individual chapters have the feel of freestanding pieces, and some of their content is repetitious. Much of the jargon and some of the details of how a kitchen is organized aren't explained until late in the book, even though he's been referring to them from the beginning.. By the time he finally does explain the slang and the esoteric details, the astute reader has already figured it out.
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221 of 248 people found the following review helpful By J.A. Davis on May 15, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Oh, you are really going to enjoy this book...while you're reading it, that is. Then afterwards you'll be torn between the memories of the hilarious antics Bourdain describes in his book...and memories of the disgusting things that go on every day in restaurant kitchens. Believe it or not, it IS worth reading! (And take it from a former restaurant manager, it is, unfortuately, true - the after-hours shenanigans, especially!)
Bourdain has put together a truly gonzo collection of restaurant tales that aren't all depraved...but, like his restaurateur/chef subjects, most of them are! Kudos to him for a book that is this honest while being this hysterical. If you have the, um, stomach for it, this is a book you'll remember fondly. Well worth digesting!
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Sykes on July 13, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The first 253 pages of "Kitchen Confidential" would certainly give one pause before ever choosing to dine out again. Author-Chef Anthony Bourdain describes the professional kitchen as a collection of drunks, derelicts and drug addicts the likes with which you would never want to have a close encounter. And as chef de cuisine of Brasserie Les Halles in New York, you'd certainly think he'd know. But on page 254, Bourdain begins to show the other side of the street by describing the kitchen of chef Scott Bryan at Veritas, an upscale restaurant down the street from Les Halles. In this comparison the ultimate lessons are revealed, and what had been up to that point just an amusing 'tell all' book, becomes something considerably more. We learn that Bourdain's world is one of his own choosing, and other chefs at other restaurants can be very different. While Bourdain was propelled thru his early years by drugs and alcohol, Bryan was more serious. While Bourdain reached for the top right out of school and ultimately fell on his face, Bryan carefully refined his craft by working in the kitchens of one expert chef after another. For Bourdain it's about the pace of life leading a hectic restaurant kitchen; for Bryan it's all about the food. The lessons come together in the penultimate chapter entitled "So You Want to Be a Chef?", which spells out the rules for kitchen success as clearly and as vividly and any would-be chef would want. This chapter along with Michael Ruhlman's "The Making of a Chef" (ISPN 0805061738) should be required reading before any student begins Day 1 at culinary school. The rest of us might just want to chose our restaurants more carefully. Oh, yes...and avoid the fish on a Monday.
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