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Heat: An Amateur's Adventures As Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany
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Heat: An Amateur's Adventures As Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  19,012 Ratings  ·  1,769 Reviews
From one of our most interesting literary figures – former editor of Granta, former fiction editor at The New Yorker, acclaimed author of Among the Thugs – a sharp, funny, exuberant, close-up account of his headlong plunge into the life of a professional cook.

Expanding on his James Beard Award-winning New Yorker article, Bill Buford gives us a richly evocative chronicle of
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published May 30th 2006 by Doubleday Canada (first published January 1st 2006)
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Nick This book is fantastic, I highly recommend it! I would also suggest Kitchen Confidential and Medium Raw
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Jul 02, 2007 Kim rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: culinary adventurers
Shelves: finished
I had mixed feelings on this one. It started out swimmingly--I was howling with laughter as the author detailed the highs (including the extracurricular highs) and the lows of the Babbo employment experience. I was shocked (in a highly amused way) by the author's description of Batali. Surely, the soft-spoken, well-mannered guy I cheer for on Iron Chef America could not be telling his servers to "pistol-whip" unruly customers with their unmentionables behind Babbo's closed doors! (If true, as a ...more
May 15, 2008 Valerie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I started reading Heat without any prior knowledge of Mario Batali. I'd never cooked from any of his cookbooks, or seen his show. That said, the book was an interesting look at his life - an absolutely crazy one filled with gluttony, extreme restaurant hours and seemingly never-ending partying.

But the focus of the book is not only Batali (although he steals the show, in my opinion). Actually written by Bill Buford about his time spent in one of Batali's restaurant kitchens (Babbo in NYC), Heat a
Petra X
I read this book last year and it was deleted from my booklist by Goodreads. Who naturally say this couldn't happen, I must have deleted it myself. I've never been able to prove before that the book was on my booklist until this one. It's not on my list yet I read it, and I wrote a comment last October on a friend's, Karen's review. I just came across this comment today.

"The bit about eating pure pork fat close to the beginning really put me off. It doesn't matter what fancy name you call it, no
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I have to admit I picked this up because Anthony Bourdain was reading it on his show "No Reservations" (and he wrote Kitchen Confidential). This is the story of an editor for the New Yorker who ends up in the kitchens of Mario Batali - it is an encounter of his experiences in the kitchen, plus a biography of Mario, plus a history of food - all at the same time. I really enjoyed this. It took me back to my restaurant days, expressing the outrageous kitchen culture that you would not believe if yo ...more
Dec 22, 2011 Anna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Most food writing is shit. It wallows in superlatives as brazenly as real estate hustings. But really good writing about food makes the heart soar.

This is in the second category. Partially because Buford is so craven, so desperate to GET what it is like being young, dumb and full of come in a kitchen more stuffed with wise-asses and borderline personality disorders than the average martini olive.

Lots of guys take up lycra and the bike for their mid-life thingo. Or get expensive mistresses. Or fo
Amanda Wilkins
Oct 05, 2007 Amanda Wilkins rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A must-read for foodies and Slow Foodies.

In one passage of the book, Bill Buford becomes preoccupied with researching when, in the long history of food on the Italian peninsula, cooks started putting eggs into their pasta dough. He decides to go on a quest to Italy and meets with the cook at La Volta, a small restaurant in the town of Porretta Terme. Mario Batali lived and worked here during an internship before going to New York and opening Babbo. He considers the cook, Betta, and all the othe
Sep 05, 2007 Andrew rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
i got this to read on the airplane, and it did an admirable job for that precise purpose. but there's one thing that's a real problem for this book. About halfway through, he ends a chapter saying he has to leave New York to deal with "personal demons." Fine. But he never mentions what they are/ were. And the book is all under the guise of a kind of memoir. If he's not going to tell the reader what those demons are, don't use it as a cliffhanger/ enticement to keep reading. Not only is it suprem ...more
Mar 24, 2009 Catherine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009, italy, mainstream-us
I loved this book a whole lot - and warn that should you tackle it, please do so with a large amount of red wine and italian food readily available. Much like it's torture to watch Chocolat without chocolate, it would be rude not to eat pasta and drink red wine while this book's in your life.

The book's an amalgamation of many things I love - cooking, peeking behind the scenes at famous restaurants, drinking wine, contemplating where food does and should come from. Buford spent just over a year s
Sep 06, 2014 Margaret rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A terrific reading of a hugely entertaining book. The very long title pretty much summarizes the gist: Mr. Buford, a writer and editor, finagles a job working in Chef Mario Batali's NYC restaurant, Babbo, starting as lowly, brow-beaten kitchen prep, and proceeds, without any real ambition, to work his way up, somewhat, in the kitchen hierarchy. This stretch of the book will be familiar to anyone who has read Anthony Bourdain's "Kitchen Confidential," both in terms of restaurant and cooking detai ...more
Mar 25, 2009 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, I enjoyed this way more than I expected! On more than one occasion I ate lunch in my car so I could keep listening. Hilarious, insightful, and mouth-watering. Buford's taste in food is just a bit different from mine - I can't count the pounds of "lardo" that he consumes over the telling - but his journey feels very kindred. Amateur cook learns skills, travels to Italy, appreciates homemade traditional food. Except he happens to be completely obsessive and surrounded by larger than life char ...more
Aug 24, 2011 Judy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who enjoy food memoirs
Bill Buford is an editor who determines to find out what it would be like to work in a professional kitchen. Fortunately, he gets the opportunity to find out when he meets Food Network chef, Mario Batali at a baseball game. This book details the stressful world of preparing 3-star meals. It is complete with depiction of kitchen-prejudice, snobbery, recipes and more than you ever wanted to know about what goes into meal-prep. I found the audio version of this book entertaining, informational and ...more
Jan 29, 2015 Sera rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Casey, Susanna, Marieke
Outstanding on audio.

Over the last couple of years, I have been reading my way through some of the more well-known "cooking" books, which tend to be more memoir than actual cooking: Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, Yes, Chef and Blood, Bones, and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef come to mind. Much of the writing is about the lives of these chefs and how they started cooking. Then it follows their restaurant careers and the success that they have t
Moira Burke
Feb 21, 2010 Moira Burke rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Bill Buford likes to surround himself with histrionic people, whose antics frequently cross the line into violence. First, it was the soccer hooligans. Now it's three-star NY chef Mario Batali and Italian butcher Dario Cecchini. You can imagine Buford and Batali, into their fifth bottle of wine in a dim New York hot spot at three in the morning, Buford regaling the imbecilic escapades of the Man United fans in the eighties, and Batali savoring (and interrupting) every detail. Not content with h ...more
Sep 30, 2009 Christin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Let me preface this review with a disclaimer, I am not a foodie; I am an eater. My only interest in food typically is how it tastes, not its journey from field to slaughterhouse to restaurant to the particulars of preparation to my plate to my stomach, but Buford might have changed my perspective. His literary-historical perspective on Tuscan food, his wild, uproarious tales from the life of Mario Batali and the Babbo kitchen, and his engaging portraits of food culture in Italia, were thoroughly ...more
Tom Carrico
Feb 02, 2011 Tom Carrico rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Book Review

Heat by Bill Buford
Reviewed by Tom Carrico

Bill Buford is a former editor of the “The New Yorker” magazine, founding editor of “Granta” magazine and publisher of Granta Books. His hobby was cooking. He cooked for friends and business associates and on one occasion for the renowned chef Mario Batali. That occasion prompted Mr. Buford to quit his job at “The New Yorker” and sign on as an unpaid intern at Batali’s three star Italian restaurant Babbo in New York City. This book is part mem
Jan 14, 2008 Carol rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one.
When I first started this book, I asked my friend Jen what she thought of it. Not much, apparently; she didn't find the author "compelling". It was just boring, even for an amateur cook like me. He describes things (like when egg was first introduced as an ingredient in pasta) that he says most people would not be interested in, and then goes on and on ad nauseum about them. If you know they are not interesting to people, then why go into detail about them? It is odd that he was an editor for Th ...more
Jan 02, 2012 Robin rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I read this book on vacation and it completely altered my state of mind! I was transported into the world of a commercial kitchen, and then to Italy for historic preparation of handmade pasta. Bill Buford is a delightful author, funny and a little insane.

Only two complaints about this book. First, I was disgusted when he went to work for a butcher and, in great detail, described his new expertise. I sped read through that chapter, but I've eaten primarily vegetarian for more
Siobhan Fallon
Some of this book is amazing, but I found it uneven as a whole. I picked it up because I was curious about Mario Batali, but the Batali of this book is the least interesting character of all. The final chapters, when Bill Buford goes to Italy to apprentice with a butcher, are absolutely gorgeous.
Bill Buford was an editor at the New Yorker and his breath of knowledge shows. He is best when discussing Italy, everything from the making of tortellini (and the rumor that they are modeled after the p
Sep 04, 2007 Sean rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Food as:

- a business
- an artform
- an intellectual interest
- a link to the soil
- a tenuous and evocative link to the past


- recipes (of a sort, since recipes are for home cooks, we learn) for linguine with clams, the tuscan version of beef bourginion, and more
- mario batali is a foul-mouthed drunk who loves the ladies
- restaurant kitchens are no place for the myth and mystery of food (e.g., the $29 bowl of "peasant" soup made from scraps); dried pasta served at high-end italian restaurants

Mar 31, 2009 Laurel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, I love the premise of this book, and I began it with gusto (insert lame gastronomy joke here), but it became a little too detailed and meandering in parts for me and I lost interest.

I was really excited by Buford's accounts of working in the kitchen at Babbo, a restaurant I used to walk by, gaze longingly towards, but never ate at. It sort of read like a long New Yorker article, which makes sense, and is a good thing, but began to wear thin when Buford travels to Italy (See Valerie's revie
Jul 08, 2007 Jennifer rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed the descriptions of food and of Italy, but I frequently found myself comparing Buford's self-assigned temporary experience as a journalist-turned-culinary-kind-of-person to Bordain's authentic experience as an actual chef in Kitchen Confidential . Overall, I preferred Bordain's account of the fast-and-furious culinary lifestyle.
May 06, 2016 Phil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Above the bar code on the back cover of Heat, to the right of the ISBN, the book is categorized as “cooking.” However, this is anything but a cook book.

Bill Buford’s subtitle says it better: “An Amateur’s Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany.” Not until the reader finishes this raucous account of the writer’s quest, however, does this description make sense.

First, the “amateur” is the author himself. Buford, a journalist by tra
Jan 13, 2016 Anna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Есть такой анекдот: мужик заполняет документы на эмиграцию в Санта-Барбару. Его спрашивают - "почему именно туда?" - "а я там всех знаю!"
Food related non-fiction - мое серьёзное книжное увлечение последних лет. И в Heat я словила такое приятное чувство - вот упоминается Калифорнийская кулинарная революция, которая началась в ресторане, где тусовалась Рут Рейхл, чьи книги я читала. Вот упоминание знаменитых ресторанных обзоров Нью-Йорк Таймс, которые могут повара как погубить, так и возвысить - Р
Aug 14, 2009 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: foodie
This book really helped me to appreciate the restaurant industry and Italian culinary history and culture. Things I learned: 1. Mario Batali is a disgusting man. 2. Restaurant work is rough. 3. Italians are awesome. 4. Pork is gross.
Mae Sterrett
At first, I really enjoyed the almost manic pace this book started out with. I felt like it really helped to capture the sense of organized chaos that seemed to be the atmosphere of the kitchen the author was working in, but the more I read the more put off I found myself, and I have found some difficulty putting into words what it was that was bothering me. The book itself is well-written. The characters are mostly unlikeable. I found the information about how a three star kitchen works very in ...more
Actually, I only got a little over halfway through the book before I realized I had lost the momentum. It was really entertaining at first, but a lot reminded me of Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential without the cred. I couldn't help but start getting frustrated that Buford did not deserve the privilege and luxury of jumping from station to station in the Babbo kitchen just because he felt like it--especially when his colleagues had been busting their balls for years (and were largely getting it ri ...more
Nov 12, 2009 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
This is one of the best food-related narratives I've read. The topic, Buford's quest to learn to cook by working in Babbo's kitchen in New York, would probably have been interesting enough to garner four stars. It's a five star book because Buford combines beautiful prose with the type of detailed descriptions and intense self-reflexivity that is at the heart of all great memoirs. Mario Batali is a character whose antics, alone, could fill the pages of several books. But Buford does not allow hi ...more
Greg Stinson
May 20, 2013 Greg Stinson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book starts out starting as a bibliography of Mario Batali, which probably would have been interesting enough and sufficient for me, but then it goes in so many interesting directions, particularly towards the question that I wonder about all the time: How was Italian food developed? He focuses this search on one specific question: When was egg added to pasta dough? and goes through several apprenticeships around Italy that fill in many answers.

I found the book beautifully written.

I need to
It is not often that a book brings out the worst in me. Reading, after all, is often an opportunity to tap into the better aspects of one's character that otherwise go unexercised in the daily life of an office worker--but this book put me in an ill-temper every time I attempted to finish it. (And I note that it seems as though many, many Goodreads folks also had difficulty finishing it, though for different reasons.) I finally realized that I'm too jealous over Buford's opportunities to enjoy t ...more
Therese Bowes
Jan 11, 2012 Therese Bowes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gifted
Yes, that's right, I finished the book.

Let me start out by saying that I think it’s a safe assumption that I think about food more than the average person. I am the opposite of the saying “Don’t live to eat, eat to live.” Most days, I live to eat. So it goes without saying that I was thrilled to pick up a book completely about Italian food and one man’s (seriously awesome) journey learning as much about it as possible by working in a NYC kitchen with one of the most renowned chefs and from the
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Bill Buford is an American author and journalist.
Buford is the author of the books:
Among the Thugs and Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany.
More about Bill Buford...

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“In normal life, "simplicity" is synonymous with "easy to do," but when a chef uses the word, it means "takes a lifetime to learn.” 10 likes
“Food made by hand is an act of defiance and runs contrary to everything in our modernity. Find it; eat it; it will go. It has been around for millennia. Now it is evanescent, like a season.” 7 likes
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