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Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly
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Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly

3.99  ·  Rating Details ·  137,742 Ratings  ·  7,289 Reviews
New York Chef Tony Bourdain gives away secrets of the trade in his wickedly funny, inspiring memoir/expose. Kitchen Confidential reveals what Bourdain calls "twenty-five years of sex, drugs, bad behavior and haute cuisine."

Last summer, The New Yorker published Chef Bourdain's shocking, "Don't Eat Before Reading This." Bourdain spared no one's appetite when he told all abo
Hardcover, 307 pages
Published May 22nd 2000 by Bloomsbury USA (first published 2000)
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Mamta Absolutely! Anyone who loves food can enjoy it.
As someone who enjoys food for the sake of it and someone who loves good writing, I found a marvellous…more
Absolutely! Anyone who loves food can enjoy it.
As someone who enjoys food for the sake of it and someone who loves good writing, I found a marvellous blend of both in this book.(less)
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Community Reviews

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Apr 07, 2008 Jacob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Foodies, counterculture cultists, sexdrugandrockandroll types
My first exposure to Anthony Bourdain, via his show No Reservations, left me with with the sense of a true asshole who sneered down his nose with aging punk-rock disdain at people and things he deemed beneath him, and, honestly, it seemed like most people and things were beneath him. For some reason, even though he crossed my Southern sensibilities and turned me off to him on that first exposure, I kept watching the show and realized that there is a lot more to him than that first impression sug ...more
Jul 04, 2008 Ratscats rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the hungry and the horny
Recommended to Ratscats by: my libido
I love food and I love hot sexy chefs with potty mouths.
I remember first discovering Anthony Bourdain on the Food Network many years ago. It was 3am and I was unable to sleep and here was this brooding, hot piece of ass chain smoking and touring Russia.
I never remembered his name but he haunted my dreams until I re-discovered him years later on the Travel Channel show, No Reservations.
In Kitchen Confidential, he is able to translate his sultry self onto paper.
But he is not just a piece of mea
Oct 20, 2010 Tatiana rated it liked it
Recommends it for: all interested in food and culinary business
Shelves: non-fiction, 2010
If you are like me and love food, watching Top Chef and Food Channel, think that cooking is art, an outlet for creativity, consider chefs featured on such shows (including Anthony Bourdain) as super-sophisticated artists, you are up for a surprise with this book.

Bourdain definitely crushes all preconceived notions we might have about the industry. You remember those foul-mouthed, unkempt, ever-fired-and-hired kitchen workers with shifty pasts you've come across at some points in your life? I th
Mar 07, 2008 Patrick rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008
Halfway through this book I remembered I don't have the slightest bit of interest in the culinary arts whatsoever. Luckily, I was listening to it on audiotape. Unluckily, cassette 4 broke and I had to read the rest with my eyes. I'm not sure why I picked this up, I guess because I heard Bourdain was the "punk rock chef," but besides listening to the Sex Pistols and Velvet Underground while he cooked, there's not a whole lot else going on of a punk rock nature. He was a drug addict, but the book ...more
Dec 19, 2015 Darwin8u rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
“Good food is very often, even most often, simple food.”
― Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential


There is a certain thrill to being the first person to reach the top of a mountain, the first to eat at a soon-to-be famous restaurant, the first to discover an author, a band, a new food or experience. Well friend, the thrill of a late discovery (even when you are 15 years late to the party) is still pretty damn sweet. I might have seen Bourdain's books as I wandered through a bookstore. I might have
Jul 25, 2008 Patricia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Advanced warning: I tend to take on the vernacular of whomever I'm reading, so now might be a good time to mention that Anthony Bourdain has a very colorful ... er ... style.

So, I've finished reading Anthony Bourdain's book Kitchen Confidential, which is basically about all the craziness that goes on behind the scenes in the restaurant world. As I started reading the book, I thought I'd be of one of two minds by the end: either I'd never want to eat out again, or I'd want to chuck the teaching
Jul 20, 2007 Sydney rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The book's author is clearly impressed with having passed through the esteemed halls of Vassar College, yet prouder still of his hard knocks and rough-and-tumble street degree earned working for a slew of restaurants. Much of the book is spent describing the working stiffs in the culinary field and their wildly anti-social and anti-establishment behavior and greedy incompetent restaurant owners. The anecdotes were mildly amusing for the first hundred pages but tiresome by the end. If you're stuc ...more
Dec 16, 2015 Madeline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
"No, I want to tell you about the dark recesses of the restaurant underbelly - a subculture whose centuries-old militaristic hierarchy and ethos of 'rum, buggery and the lash' make for a mix of unwavering order and nerve-shattering chaos - because I find it all quite comfortable, like a nice warm bath. I can move around easily in this life. I speak the language. In the small, incestuous community of chefs and cooks in New York City, I know the people, and in my kitchen, I know how to behave (as ...more
Stacia (the 2010 club)
I almost feel the need to have to bring back my "3 stars is not a bad rating" disclaimer, since I've had a bizarrely rare couple of weeks with several 4 star rated books in my lineup. Well here we are again, settling back into the "3 star is the standard" normalcy of my world.

Kitchen Confidential was an entertaining read. The main reason why I couldn't swing a 4 is only because I think I'd expected there to be more "trade secrets" about the restaurant industry than there really were. I'd half ex
The beginning is really interesting. He talks about his experience with food as a kid, his epiphany (losing his food "virginity" in France to an oyster), his out of control period at college and C.I.A. (not the spy factory, the Culinary Institute of America). It's great again at the end as he speaks about his second epiphany, his trip to Japan. I wanted to hear more about this, but I guess there's a book about that that I will have to read. I liked best the parts where he speaks about his motiva ...more
Oh, Anthony Bourdain... How I love you! I have no idea why it took me so long to read his very first memoir. Amazing, hilarious, witty, educational, enlightening, entertaining, intriguing, original, honest... This should be mandatory reading for every first year CIA student. For anyone unfamiliar with this use, that is The Culinary Institutes Of America, Bourdain's Alma Mater, not The Central Intelligence Agency. Of course, (Fortunately? Unfortunately?, although I was not in the industry long en ...more
Anthony Bourdain is very much the punk rock rebel of celebrity chefs. The chef who isn't afraid to refer to Emeril as an Ewok, and poke fun of culinary-school trained cooks, when at the same time, he is a celebrity chef, and a culinary school graduate. He knows this, and it's not a problem for him.

Kitchen Confidential is part memoir, part how-to, and mostly about sex, drugs and rock-n-roll. It's basically a history of Anthony's obsession with food and drugs from his days as a young boy, until he
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Dec 28, 2012 Jenny (Reading Envy) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jenny (Reading Envy) by: Andy/Troy/Tad/Dennis - I won't forget!
How could I have never reviewed this book? I read this at a key turning point in my life, and was one of those books that changed everything for me. I was 22. I had gotten married and gone directly to graduate school right after graduating with a BA in music, with a full ride and graduate assistantship in the School of Folklore at Indiana University. It wasn't a good fit for me. By the time I enrolled in the fieldwork class, I knew I was probably on my way out, and got permission to do my fieldw ...more
Mar 17, 2008 Carol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am grateful to anyone who attempts to write something that is honest, and I think this is. Never mind anything about the person, their behavior or choices. If they are honest it seems to always work.

I'm left thinking about a few things. I'm pissed off at yet another profession women are not attracted to because they can't put up with the environment and juvenile behavior of a kitchen. I call bullshit on that. I also wonder why he left off the delivery guys in his description of the different p
Crystal Starr Light
Bullet Review:

Very interesting and startlingly honest - though if Bourdain is anything like this book shows, I doubt I would want to meet him in person and have a beer.

Full Review:

In our culture of reality TV, one of the great things to come out is a renewed interest in food and chefs. Say what you will, but I definitely have enjoyed watching such personalities as Gordon Ramsay and learning what makes a good and bad dining/eating experience.

Anthony Bourdain is such a personality that thrives in
May 02, 2011 Michael rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
If I was interested in becoming a chef would I have liked this book more?

If I liked Anthony Bourdain would I have liked this book more?

Hard to say, but I think the answer to the first question might be "Maybe, but doubtful" and the answer to the second question is, "Probably not".

I thought the beginning of Kitchen Confidential was interesting but I don't need anyone advising me not to eat in restaurants with dirty bathrooms or to treat servers with respect. It was this blow-the-lid-off-the-resta
I am a budding cook, and a pretty subpar one. But I have ambitions. I'm not interested in learning the basics; I'd much rather dive right into the dishes that require blowtorches and shit. That's why I'll never be a great cookerman. I'll have about five or six dishes that I can make that will wow people, but if someone puts five ingredients in front of me, I'll have no idea what combination makes a coherent meal. "Make a white sauce." "Er, what? Is that, like, mayonnaise?" "I need some acidity t ...more
Mar 06, 2008 Carol rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: A MUST for anyone contemplating a carrer in food service and foodies in general
Recommended to Carol by: While writing a review of "Heat", other reviewers mentioned that
Ah, now THIS is what I had hoped I'd get from reading "Heat" and didn't. This should be mandatory reading for anyone fantasizing about changing careers and becoming a chef. Although starting a new career at this point in my life, especially one physically grueling, would be absurd, I have to admit I have sometimes thought a wistful "what if.." No more. Bourdain lets you know that unless you MUST cook and just can't help yourself, are totally committed to having no personal life, and can work alo ...more
I am not a cook and really don’t like to cook, but what I do like is to read about cooking and different styles of cuisine. I know, it’s kind of strange, but I guess, like many things in life, I read more about others participating in things rather than me actually doing the participating, like a spectator sport. Plus I feel if I ever get adventurous in the kitchen or with trying new menu items at restaurants, this knowledge will help me in some way. Maybe. Anyway, Anthony Bourdain is something ...more
If you happen to find this book in audio, don't hesitate to listen. It's hilarious. Bourdain is a man of many talents, and one of them is picking up slangs in different languages quickly and adapting to accents. Like I said, hilarious.

Review moved to
May 09, 2015 Jeanette rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved the information about the nitty-gritty of restaurant cook station life, how hard and physical that life truly is. It was for me a 3 star read, but rounded to four for the realistic nature of the reveals. Which, I know, are still fairly accurate.

Bourdain in print is exactly as Bourdain in travels, or in audio/tv media work. He's the same anti-establishment let's all tramp along to the lowest common denominator factor (drugs, liquor, any form of low life crudity possible) in friendship an
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Okay so I totally get it. Why knowing the personality of an author, or smelling the author's personality through a text, might totally destroy any possibility of enjoying that text. I love food ; and I love all kinds of food. But a mere three episodes into his The Layover thing and I've only got this to say ; Bourdain is an ass.
Kevin Fanning
Jul 25, 2011 Kevin Fanning rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I read the Kindle version, and there were a few annoying things about the formatting (periods in the middles of sentences, clauses missing an em dash), that I presume are artifacts of the automated e-book-ification process, and aren't a problem in the actual book.

BUT there were also a few annoying things that technically *were* problems in the actual book--phrases like "the mental rolodex he kept in his head" made me wonder if they even let an editor near this manuscript. It's clearly a set of e
Natalie S.
This book would be an ideal choice for a fraternity's monthly book club. I do not mean that as a 100% insult--maybe a 60% insult. What I mean is that a lot of the plot points do not exist for any other reason than to emphasize how bro-y the restaurant industry is (see: rando bride getting banged in the storeroom by a chef).

I did not purchase this book. It was a free audiobook, and I started listening to it on drives to and from Austin and work. It is 35% mildly entertaining, 15% very entertainin
I started listening to this expecting to be sick of Tony by the time I finished, but that's not what happened. I think it only deepened my appreciation for his shamelessness in acting like such a jerk. Despite all his jerkiness, I really do think he's a good guy. He is a mensch and sees the humanity in everyone, which is refreshing. (Well, maybe not in the likes of celebrity chefs but he's a jerk so he has to make fun of someone! I mean, someone other than vegetarians and vegans.) Anyway, I esp ...more
Mar 15, 2009 Eric_W rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography-memoir
After reading this book, you may never eat in a restaurant again — at least an expensive one, and you'll certainly never order fish on a Monday or order your meat well done (bad cuts are never thrown out because they can always be saved for the customer who orders well-done, " dumb bastard is paying for the privilege of eating the garbage." Hollandaise sauce is always a risk because to maintain its proper consistency it needs to be close to room temperature, which is ideal for the growth of thos ...more
Really cocky people tend to both fascinate and frighten me, in both cases because I absolutely cannot, for even a second, relate to their train of thought. The idea of a person not only believing in themselves but actually behaving as though they are the bravest and most capable guy in the room, to the point where they stand up for themselves and reach lofty goals through bullheaded persistence alone, is not a thing I can easily process. If I met Anthony Bourdain, (whose last name does not curre ...more
Susan (the other Susan)
There are three kinds of people: people who think Anthony Bourdain is too arrogant, people who think he's no more arrogant than he deserves to be, and people who don't give a damn which kind we think they are. Anthony Bourdain is the third kind. He is the last legitimate journalist on CNN and a tireless adventurer. I want to travel the world at his side, eating tentacled things to impress him. I would give him a baby if I could find a baby that I think he'd like to have.

Also, this is a pretty go
Ashley *Hufflepuff Kitten*
My boyfriend LOVES Anthony Bourdain and anything to do with him, and it was by his suggestion that I picked this up from the library. Unfortunately, I just couldn't get into it for the life of me. I remember skimming a lot, but I probably just wasn't in the mood for it (as usually happens when something gets flung at me out of left field). Should probably try re-reading it at some point.
Aug 04, 2008 Trin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, food
This was enjoyably dishy (haha, do you see what I did there?). Bourdain may be a major bullshit artist, but for the most part, it’s highly entertaining bullshit, so I don’t really care. I did think the book really lost focus at the end and goes on quite a bit too long, but overall I found this to be an interesting read about a fascinating industry.
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  • The Making of a Chef: Mastering Heat at the Culinary Institute of America
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  • The Perfectionist: Life and Death in Haute Cuisine
  • Alone in the Kitchen with an Eggplant : Confessions of Cooking for One and Dining Alone
  • Blood, Bones, and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef
  • The Sorcerer's Apprentices: A Season in the Kitchen at Ferran Adrià's elBulli
  • Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen
Anthony Bourdain is the author of the novels Bone in the Throat and Gone Bamboo, in addition to the megabestsellers Kitchen Confidential and A Cook’s Tour.
His work has appeared in the New York Times and the New Yorker, and he is a contributing authority for Food Arts magazine. He is the host of the popular Emmy and Peabody Award winning television show Parts Unknown.
More about Anthony Bourdain...

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“your body is not a temple, it's an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.” 423 likes
“Do we really want to travel in hermetically sealed popemobiles through the rural provinces of France, Mexico and the Far East, eating only in Hard Rock Cafes and McDonalds? Or do we want to eat without fear, tearing into the local stew, the humble taqueria's mystery meat, the sincerely offered gift of a lightly grilled fish head? I know what I want. I want it all. I want to try everything once.” 242 likes
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