Part autobiography, part manual on what and what not to do in the restaurant industry, "Kitchen Confidential" is definitely not for the faint-of-heart. Anthony Bourdain tells no-BS tales of insults, theft, yelling, screaming, sex, drug dealing, drug abusing, and, oh yes, cooking. I loved every minute of it.
Bourdain pulls no punches in describing the actual work that goes into running or working in a professional kitchen. Just reading it will make you feel overwhelmed. The "A Day In The Life" chapter, especially, gives one a good idea about the ins and outs of restaurant life. His book is full of very real characters - loyal, hard-working Ecuadorian cooks, drug users, degenerates, perverts, and your garden-variety wacko. Those are the folks who, at least at the time of the writing of the book, cook your food when you go out to eat. I especially enjoyed the tales of Adam Real-Last-Name-Unknown, Anthony's former bread-baker, who gets a chapter all to himself.
After all the punishing, intense descriptions of the hell that is the professional kitchen, it was nice to have some brief interludes where Anthony talks about specific restaurant-related topics - what not to eat, what tools a good chef or cook needs, the setup of a restaurant kitchen.
That leads me into what I did not like about the book - it's mostly about life in kitchens. Interesting, yes, but a bit monotonous after a while. I eventually lost track of which previously-mentioned people worked in which restaurants in Tony's career. The stories tend to run together - same tales of criminal acts and high stress, just in different settings. It might have been nice for Bourdain to provide a handy time line of places and people at the start or end of the book. Also, I think some of the terms could have been better defined for a non-professional audience. I realize Bourdain was writing to an audience of cooks and chefs, but the updated edition could have included a brief glossary to help the non-foodies.
Even with its faults, "Kitchen Confidential" is an entertaining book. And it is all true, because Anthony set out to tell the truth and nothing but.