Wolfman's Reviews > Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
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's review
Mar 03, 08

Read in November, 2007

If you've seen "No Reservations," Anthony Bourdain's show on the Travel Channel, you may have been intrigued and entertained by the globe-trotting sampling of exotic (and not-so-exotic) cuisines, and by Bourdain's rough-edged wit and constant cameraderie with fellow foodies. But unless you've read "Kitchen Confidential," Bourdain's part-memoir, part insider manifesto, part faux-chef's-manual, you might not be aware of his credentials as a professional food taster and pedigreed smart-aleck.

A long-time but reformed drug addict, Anthony Bourdain has had more cooking jobs than Italy has had governments since World War II (which is a lot.) The accounts of his many shenanigans are quite juicy and border on unbelievable at times, and Bourdain himself admits that the whole story of his youth may be tinted with a potent dose of nostalgia. But in any case, you end up rooting for him; He may have moved around a lot and been a junkie at times, but he certainly worked his ass off and knew when to give a middle finger, which makes you respect him in a crazy-uncle kind of way.

Towards the end, as Bourdain begins to wrap up the manic recuont of his culinary past, he reminds us that doing things like writing a book is easy, and that doing things like being a cook or a chef in a restaurant is hard. The latter is certainly true, and although you might disagree with the former, the statement sheds light on what kind of book this is. Bourdain is not a great writer, to be sure, but he has great stories, and just the right mix of bravado and self-deprication to make them worth reading.
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