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The Devil in the Kitchen: Sex, Pain, Madness and the Making of a Great Chef
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The Devil in the Kitchen: Sex, Pain, Madness and the Making of a Great Chef

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  2,041 ratings  ·  170 reviews
What do Mario Batali, Heston Blumenthal, and Gordon Ramsay have in common? Answer: They all survived tours of duty in the kitchen of Marco Pierre White. In the UK, White's brilliant cooking and high-wattage antics have made him a legend: the first British chef (and the youngest chef anywhere) to win three Michelin stars, a chain-smoking, pot-throwing, multiply married culi ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published May 1st 2007 by Bloomsbury USA (first published January 1st 2006)
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Yummy Memoirs!
21st out of 48 books — 71 voters
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66th out of 81 books — 8 voters


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Community Reviews

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Carol
OOooh, he's such a nasty boy. I think I might like to have him cook for me, but I wouldn't want to know him in any other context. I wouldn't want to be his wife and I sure as hell wouldn't want to work for him.

I understand that to some degree a mercurial, self-confident demeanor is a job requirement for being a Michelin-3-star-caliber chef but White comes off as a 5-star jerk. He's very quick to quote positive reviews and people who bolster his image as a sex-god Mick-Jagger-of-the-kitchen. I da
...more
Jim
By the end of this book, Marco is neither a devil nor in the kitchen, but you do understand why he once was both. Undeniably a difficult character, the autobiography goes some way to explaining the drive and motivations behind the man and I did wonder if a couple of therapy sessions had added to some of the more reflective and self-analytical passages. On the other hand, selective amnesia is often also in evidence especially when concerning business or personal relationships, although he does re ...more
^
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book; in one part a fascinatingly rewarding reminiscence of 1980s London; and in another a raw insight into what it took to succeed, both financially and socially, in the restaurant trade. James Steen (the ghost-writer) has done such a superb job here that found myself wishing that I could now read his book of how he wrote this book. I can’t believe that he could have had an easy time of it.

Good 1980s restaurant food WAS memorable, though mainly because of the
...more
Ms.pegasus
Aug 24, 2013 Ms.pegasus rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in haute cuisine; and anglophiles
Recommended to Ms.pegasus by: Jonathan Lin of Goodreads
You've achieved your life's dream at age 33. Now what? It's a problem few of us even think about, let alone encounter. It's the problem Chef Marco White faced in 1995. The choices he made at that point were, like his life, unusual and courageous.

DEVIL IN THE KITCHEN is Marco White's memoir. It's the story of a boy from a financially strapped working class home in Leeds. It chronicles the distress of a boy who lost his mother at age 6, who feared the loss of his father from terminal cancer four y
...more
Shelly
Mar 29, 2008 Shelly rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: foodies
Shelves: book-club-pick
Marco Pierre White's story is interesting. I'm not a "foodie", but I still enjoyed it. The writing style was kind of rough at times, extremely conversational and would sometimes jump from one topic to the next without much transition (surprised he had a ghostwriter), but all in all it was an entertaining read.
White, like most chefs, is a hothead. His infamous temper was apparently the talk of London's restaurant world during his heyday. Although to me he seems to go overboard at some times--like
...more
grundoon
3.5 Wow, this is a tough one to rate. On the one hand, it's an autobiography (ghostwritten) of a charismatic, narcissistic, volatile, wildly-talented chef. On the other hand, it's an autobiography of a charismatic, narcissistic, volatile, wildly-talented chef. The story is entertaining, mostly compelling, and there's a good deal of culinary and kitchen life. But the further you read, the more you notice how much has been left out and how just about every anecdote comes padded in justification, r ...more
Shahine Ardeshir
Silly as it sounds, I started reading this book after watching Marco Pierre White in action on Masterchef Professionals. I know precious little about fine dining, but I liked the man from what I saw, and thought that a book about his life would be interesting.

I was half-right.

The book begins beautifully. In fact, the first half was one of the best autobiographies I’d read - about how a young boy from very humble beginnings started a life and built a career in the culinary scene in England. It w
...more
Jill
Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential - a behind the scenes look into a chef's life - was what got me hooked on food literature. Although Bourdain and White are different in many ways (White's a three starred Michelin chef and he stresses that he never did drugs nor did he binge on alcohol), the Devil in the Kitchen reminded me of Bourdain's book in many ways: the hard scrabble to the top, their accounts of verbal exchanges in the kitchen with the liberal use of foul language, and ultimately, ...more
Kid
I liked this book. . .it was unpretentious, well-crafted and interesting. If this sounds like I'm damning it with faint praise I kinda am. . .

Marco White is the self-described "first celebrity chef" aka "rock star chef" - he made great sacrifices to gain three Michelin Guide stars for one of his restaurants and is clearly passionate about high cuisine. It comes across and is compelling. At the end of the day this did not transcend the genre. . .i.e. a memoir by someone at the top of their field.
...more
Palma
I love to read about what drives ceratin people to perfection and temperments.

This is not a cook book but a biography that I find very honest. It tells of how he grew up and how people used to work really hard at young ages, of growing up and actually living in the outside world of simple pleasures of fishing, playing in mud, catching tadpoles etc

I like this man's honestly and directness. I may not agree with his conduct in a kitchen ,though!
I find it pretty disappointing that this great chef,
...more
Jackie C
Jun 18, 2008 Jackie C rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: chefs and therapists!
Marco Pierre White has had an illustrious career for sure, but he's no Anthony Bourdain. At least Tony has respect for the cultures of the world and sees what an as* he has been.

I wish Marco well but thought this was just another retrospective of a self-absorbed, workaholic madman who achieved high culinary honors by manipulating, terrifying, insulting, abusing, and ignoring anyone who should have mattered to him (except his wife Mati, who must be a saint or the ultimate masochist).

I'm glad to
...more
Jeff
From what I've read, classic French cooking—the kind Marco Pierre White excels in—seems filled with confections. Hillocks of puff pastry or shivering gelees sheltering stronger stuff inside: fish, eggs, puddings of blood or brain.

In a way, The Devil in the Kitchen is like those dishes: under the puff pastry of celebrity memoir lurks the tale of a brutally ambitious chef, wanting nothing in life but his own three Michelin star restaurant. Hands down the best parts of this book are when White talk
...more
Sharon Griffitts
White's memoir seemed a bit disconnected at times, jumping from one time period to another. It is written as though he were talking to his ghost writer who merely transcribed Whites ramblings rather than editing them into a coherent narrative. The raw language did not offend me but his abuse of staff did. He justifies his behavior by saying it imprints the lesson more quickly and forcefully. Well, having a bowl of soup poured into one's apron because it was not hot and being forced to wear it th ...more
Nathan
Although tempered with brief instances of enticing narration, the book falls very short of its potential. White has a reputation for having a frenetic, perfectionist attitude, yet very little of either comes across in his own book. I think a proper biographer, and not the subject, would have a far more equitable, and interesting, story to tell.
Juliet Slemming
I was hoping for more "Kitchen Confidential".. this was allll about the three stars Marco has won, did I mention he has three stars? if he mentioned it once he mentioned it 100 times... how many stars? 3 I think. Too long and just not funny enough.
Emily Christine DeOrnellas
Great book for people who love food

I loved Bourdaine's Kitchen Confidential and loved the cover and title of this book so figured this would be another fun read. It was really an interesting read - very different from Bourdaine. It also sounds as if Piere white was a much better chef as well. I like that it feels told very much in his own voice (even with the ghostwriter). Much of it goes through why he decided to work certain places and the things he took from each experience. He's a bit of a n
...more
Nomiky
I found myself in a bit of a bind one day. I was in a second hand book store, holding a $9.90 copy of Marco's autobiography: RRP $30.

BUT: there was $10 left in my wallet. I was hungry and it would be six more hours before I had access to other monies or food.

What to do then I thought to myself.

I bought the book.

I can't lie to you and say this book was nourishing, that void of physical food it sustained me. It didn't.

Well maybe it filled me with a bit of warmth, but it was more the kind of war
...more
J. Joan
I've now read a number of chef memoirs, including two from Anthony Bourdain, Jacques Pepin, and Grant Achatz, and have to say this was the least interesting, captivating, or informing. I felt I did not learn too much about what made this chef special or how special his work was (I am not personally familiar with his restaurants at all), and felt the author came off as arrogant and insensitive. His writing is very disjointed and you don't really see any thematic messages or connected storytelling ...more
Clarissa
I echo other people's criticisms of this book in that I agree that White is a smarmy name dropper, but that is not what bothered me the most about this book. I guess I went in with the wrong expectations... I wanted to read a book about someone passionate about food, who loves eating good food and making good food with the antics and hard-ass-ness just incidental to that. Y'know, kind of like Anthony Bourdain's book, which at the time I read it I didn't find it all that fantastic. However, at le ...more
Alex Kalim
As the original enfant terrible of the modern British cooking scene, Marco Pierre White (MPW) has earned both the accolades of his colleagues and the admonition of his critics. This memoir, which vacillates between raw candor and over softened prose, is an interesting - if somewhat pedantic - recollection of a life spent in pursuit of the ultimate accolade of his profession - the coveted three Michelin stars.

MPW is thorough in dissecting and explaining some aspects of his development - he clear
...more
Timm Higgins
This is another one of my collection that I could read over and over. What a brilliant if not ill tempered chef. If it wasn't for Marco Pierre White, there most likely wouldn't have been a Gordon Ramsey. Even Heston Blumenthal of The Fat Duck fame worked in one of Marco's kitchens. This book is a great look into his world, I mean who roasts 36 chickens for their juice? Marco does. His pursuit for perfection at the sacrifice of everything else.

If there was one place that Marco felt at home, it wa
...more
James
I enjoy biographies because they give a glimpse into an extraordinary life. When a person is very accomplished, we rather easily dismiss their achievements as the result of talent and 'hard work'. But White's book reveals how big a role obsession and sacrifice play.

Other than being a great chef, I knew nothing about White - definitely none of the controversy that followed him in the Eighties and Nineties. Still, this was very enjoyable. It is written in straight-forward fashion and gives a lot o
...more
Umaymah
I gave the book 5 stars because it was well written and kept my attention. I have rarely read a biography and came away disliking the person, no matter my previous prejudices when I read a personal story I at least come away with an understanding of the person. I may not agree with their choices in life etc but I take away a certain understanding of why they are who or what they are. In this book the rock star chef seems to live life by his own rules and does not have the courtesy to extend the ...more
Andy
Sep 11, 2011 Andy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Sous Chefs
Recommended to Andy by: Pigeon In A Pig's Bladder
Marco Pierre White paid his dues cooking for the three major French chefs cooking in Great Britain and blew them away, no small feat when you consider that the English and French are like cats and dogs. "Devil In The Kitchen" also has more than its share of killer anecdotes, like:

1. Mario Batali, who worked under White, is a major Joy Division fan (“She’s Lost Control” his fave tune).
2. Gordon Ramsay, also a White alumnus, got into a major dust-up with some gypsy skinhead chap after said suede-h
...more
Firecooked
Ok, second book in a row that I was just glad to get to then end! The subtitle of The Devil in the Kitchen is Sex, Pain, Madness, and the Making of Great Chef… I think the more accurate title would have been “Being a great chef is an excuse for sex, pain, and madness”. The autobiography covers Marco White’s (big name chef in Britain) life starting as a child with the early loss of his mother, through to retiring young after receiving the highest Michelin accolades possible. You kind of get a “th ...more
Byron
What a surprise this was. I figured it'd be good for a few stories about getting high, banging chicks in walk-in coolers, living paycheck to paycheck well into middle age... you know, that sort of thing. I was a big fan of Kitchen Confidential, so for $3 or whatever this cost, it was a no-brainer. Come to find out it isn't anything like that. For a book with the word sex in the title, this is the least sexual book of all time, of ALL TIME. If I added sex to my own book's title, it would be tied ...more
PC
I know absolutely nothing about Marco Pierre White, and I picked up this book solely on its virtue of being on the same shelf as _Blood, Bones, and Butter_ and, well, the cover photograph. Lest you mistake the intensity in this guy's eyes for another marketing ploy (like the awful byline of "sex, pain, madness, and the makings of a great chef,"), take it instead as the ultimate representation of White at his best. The book shines when he talks about his utter drive for perfection, his addiction ...more
Dan
This is the tell-all story of Marco Pierre White--the first English chef to win three Michelin stars, no small feat in the francophile scene of haute cuisine. The story is suitably inspiring. White grew up motherless in a Leeds council flat, dropped out of high school, and quickly earned an apprenticeship in the school of hard knocks. As chefs do, he made his way around the finest restaurants of London and was eventually asked to head a new venture called Harveys, where he made his name.

Althoug
...more
Alex
Dec 14, 2007 Alex rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: foodies
I had the pleasure of meeting the “rock star chef” at a reading in NYC and he does not disappoint. He is deliciously salty and it is no wonder he has garnered the reputation that he has. Marco’s love and respect for food is absolute. He is a dying breed. The majority of today’s celebrity chefs are not in their kitchens at all, but orchestrating them from afar and that distance results in the sacrifice of the preparation, cooking, presentation and passion. On that note, as illuminating as it was ...more
Penny
Snagged off the cookbook shelf at work as something to read while devouring my post-shift lunch, I am sucked in. White has a rep for being the first "bad boy chef" in the public eye (which personally I find lame if you know any chefs) however he proves an interesting study so far. Written without the help of an editor as far as I can tell, it requires the ability to skip from major event to major event by the simple use of a paragraph change - a device in keeping with his frantic yet focused kit ...more
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“If you are not extreme, then people will take shortcuts because they don't fear you.” 15 likes
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