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

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
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's review
Nov 19, 2007

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bookshelves: non-fiction, memoirs, biography, humor, library-book
Read in August, 2007

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 finally landed a steady job, and got off the heroin. This is not the book you should read if you don't want to know who is cooking your food. If you'd rather be ignorant about what exactly is being served at Sunday brunch, skip this book. You may never eat fish on a Monday again.

In his typical style, he speaks his mind, sometimes harshly about the food industry. His cynicism and sarky nature are evident on every page, sometimes, honestly, it gets annoying. That may be due in no small part to the fact that I was reading this book as the new season of No Reservations started, so I might have just been on Bourdain overload.

I wanted to enjoy this book more, but as much as it was full of great writing, excellent imagery, and unique insight into the world of restaurants, I just found myself more annoyed than excited by the book.

I guess part of it was the fact that Bourdain seems to think that working all hours, miscreant geniuses, machisimo, and locker room humor are the sole province of kitchens. I guess it's a blessing that he's never worked in technology--especially in break-fix arenas. It's another place where calling someone a "cocksucker" means you like them, where even if you're a woman, you need to have a dick, or talk like you do. I guess I just felt like he wasn't giving me any new information. Get a bunch of guys together in a high stress, service environment, and you have to be abrasive, just to survive the night.

Anyhow... It wasn't a bad read. I do know now I never plan to work in a kitchen (the book also made me realize just how many cooks/dishwashers etc. I have known over the years, maybe another reason this wasn't such a revelation for me).

Anyhow, I'm going back to fantasy fiction for a while.
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