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

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
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Jul 25, 08

Read in June, 2008

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 career and become a chef. Now that I've finished the book, I can honestly say that I really don't want to do either. I still will eat out although I'll never have fish on Monday -- not that that's too difficult since I don't order fish unless I'm actually at a place where I can smell the salt water. And I don't want to become a chef. I'm not at all suited for that craziness when the mad rush comes in.

However, what I would love to do is to figure out how to take Bourdain's Gonzo-style management and use it in teaching. The thing about Bourdain is that he just takes his balls out and lays them on the table and says "Yep, there they are. Look at them." He's just the best kind of badass because he has the talent to back up his swagger, but he also is plenty capable of fucking up. The thing that's so sexy about that, though, is that when he does screw something up, he owns it. Is it occasionally inappropriate to lay one's balls on the table and issue the directive to look at them? Yes. Absolutely. Does he fall apart when he realizes that he's done the wrong thing? No. He shrugs his shoulders and accepts the repercussions. This isn't to say that he doesn't care or that he is a complete asshole. There is plenty of evidence in the book that he does care and that he takes his fuck-ups to heart and tries to do better--to correct the dish so that it works the next time. I already kind of have this attitude in teaching -- I have tried some things that haven't worked, and I've tried to own it and accept the repercussions, but I think I'll try to acknowledge this attitude a bit more, and I would really like to figure out how to get my students to take this attitude towards their writing.

This really struck me this week as I was finishing Bourdain's book and a list-serv that I'm a member of was filled with temporary and adjunct instructors who are all upset about an article that appeared in the June issue of The Atlantic Monthly. A majority of the members of the list are upset because the author of the article, who teaches as a community college and at a lower-tier state school, basically points out that not everyone is capable of passing a college English course and that it is often the job of those who teach the entry level courses, i.e., the people who stand on the lower rungs of the academic ladder, to be the hatchet men of academe. I agree with the author of the article. In an ideal world, as teachers, we want to help anyone who wants to learn. But nationwide, and especially in my state, we don't live anywhere near ideal when it comes to education.

Anyway, I'll start to get my syllabi ready for the fall semester soon, and as I do, I will be trying to figure out how to take a different approach to teaching this semester. A Gonzo-style approach.
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Patricia Thanks, Stacey; I think I like you too :)


Liz  Patricia- I love your review!


message 3: by Hayes (last edited Oct 12, 2009 01:37AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Hayes Nice review... really recommend the audio version, read by Bourdain himself. Lots of fun.

PS... you'll have to let me know how your Gonzo style teaching is coming!


Will If you decide to teach like Bourdain, Ill gladly sign up for your first class ;p

Good review, I think I was more taken by his blatant honesty and ability to own up more than anything else.


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