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Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  259,124 ratings  ·  13,474 reviews
A deliciously funny, delectably shocking banquet of wild-but-true tales of life in the culinary trade from Chef Anthony Bourdain, laying out his more than a quarter-century of drugs, sex, and haute cuisine—now with all-new, never-before-published material.

New York Chef Tony Bourdain gives away secrets of the trade in his wickedly funny, inspiring memoir/expose. Kitchen Con
Paperback, Updated Edition, 312 pages
Published January 9th 2007 by Ecco/Harper Perennial (first published 2000)
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Popular Answered Questions
W.K. Malone Yes, Because of this book I have no desire to work in the restaurant industry, and have gained a new level of respect for those who do.
Barbara Kristine Mckenna I think they meant the book. Or the author, it applies to both.

I lost my paperback copy of A Clockwork Orange with the dictionary in…more
Kristine Mckenna I think they meant the book. Or the author, it applies to both.

I lost my paperback copy of A Clockwork Orange with the dictionary in the back that way. A friend borrowed it then moved away. Don't loan anything out that you really want to see again.
You can find paperbacks of this book, get your friend one and ask for yours back. Or keep the new one. (less)

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Average rating 4.08  · 
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 ·  259,124 ratings  ·  13,474 reviews

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Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Excellent, vivid read about life in restaurant kitchens. Very atmospheric and I feel like I learned a lot about a very specific culture.
Mar 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
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 rated it it was amazing
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
Larry H
Sep 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"I don't know, you see, how a normal person acts. I don't know how to behave outside my kitchen. I don't know the rules. I'm aware of them, sure, but I don't care to observe them anymore because I haven't had to for so many years. Okay, I can put on a jacket, go out for dinner and a movie, and I can eat with a knife and fork without embarrassing my hosts. But can I really behave? I don't know."

I can't explain why it's taken me this long—nearly 20 years since it was published—to read Anthony Bour
Maybe 3.5 stars, sometimes 4. It has lots of interesting anecdotes, but it was somewhat repetitive at parts. While interesting for the non-culinary inclined, I think it would be better received by someone with a kitchen background or a person who has worked in food and beverage.

Some parts of this book talk about fantastic food and will leave you drooling. As a result, you will want to hop the next flight and travel the world visiting as many restaurants and trying as many types of food as you ca
Jun 07, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
What follows is my summary of this book. Blah, blah, blah I'm an asshole blah, blah, blah yay, drugs blah, blah, fuck everyone, pork chop, fuck you all, mince, veal, drugs, blood, blah, blah, blah.
Maybe you can tell, I am less than impressed. I don't feel too bad writing this review, because Bourdain certainly never minces his words (culinary pun intended;-) I was expecting entertaining anecdotes, but frankly I was bored most of the time and started skimming two thirds of the way through. Bourda
“I’m asked a lot what the best thing about cooking for a living is. And it’s this: to be a part of a subculture. To be part of a historical continuum, a secret society with its own language and customs. To enjoy the instant gratification of making something good with one’s hands – using all one’s senses. It can be, at times, the purest and most unselfish way of giving pleasure (though oral sex has to be a close second).”

What a true delight it was to read my first Anthony Bourdain book! It was hu
Jan 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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 hav
James Thane
Jun 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Ahmad Sharabiani
Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, Anthony Bourdain

Released in 2000, the book is both Bourdain's professional memoir and a behind-the-scenes look at restaurant kitchens.

The book is known for its treatment of the professional culinary industry, which he describes as an intense, unpleasant, and sometimes hazardous workplace staffed by who he describes as misfits.

Bourdain believes that the workplace is not for hobbyists and that anyone entering the industry without a maso
Jess the Shelf-Declared Bibliophile
3.5 stars rounded up. A fascinating look into the professional kitchens of NYC. I'm immediately moving on to his other books!

I've never watched his show or heard much about him besides the suspicious rumors surrounding his death. It seems the world lost a talented, intriguing man. I hope to gleam what I can from his words.
Sep 06, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all interested in food and culinary business
Shelves: 2010, non-fiction
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
Abandoned, I think, most likely with prejudice.

The audio version is read by Bourdain, which may be the most problematic aspect for me. In the first couple of chapters, Bourdain discusses his introduction to the world of cooking, followed by his experiences at the Culinary Institute of America and his forays into the cooking world after. I'm stalled out on recommendations for the home chef chapter, which I'd kind of like to finish. Here's the trouble:

He sounds pretty much like a conceited, arrog
Feb 08, 2008 rated it did not like it
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
I am ashamed to say I knew very little about Anthony Bourdain before he died. I knew he was a celebrity chef, with a pile of published books, TV shows and a reputation for being abrasive, but not much else. After reading this, I regret not paying more attention when I could, because I found Mr. Bourdain to be an incredibly passionate, well-read, deeply articulate, hysterically funny and brutally honest human being. It is creepy to think I could have crushed on him super hard was he still around? ...more
Jul 17, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
Kate Quinn
May 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing
It's hard to know how to classify "Kitchen Confidential." Memoir? Expose? Humor? Its author Anthony Bourdain is easier to pin down: the hard-drinking, hard-swearing, hard-living executive chef of a New York restaurant who can't write a sentence without being funny, poignant, or offensive, often simultaneously. Bourdain's book ranges freely over his French childhood where he first got obsessed with food, his time at fry-shacks, grill bars, and the Culinary Institute of America which variously tau ...more
Aug 14, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs, audiobooks, food
I reread Kitchen Confidential in memory of Anthony Bourdain. I still can't believe he's gone.

I enjoyed the book and smiled at Anthony's brash-yet-loveable style. Plus, it reminded me of my baby brother, who is also a chef.

Highly recommended for restaurant workers and foodie fans.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Dec 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
May 23, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food
Oh boy. Where to begin? I found this book - and by extension Anthony Bourdain - somewhat distasteful.

On the surface, it works. Bourdain promises to take you behind the scenes of the restaurant industry, which he certainly does - it's just that he only takes you to very specific restaurant environments that he has worked in and has directly helped shape, a revelation that he only gets to almost three-quarters of the way through the book. All kitchens are messy morasses of machismo, he says, and
Jul 19, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this only now, in 2021, you could say I missed that gourmet meal when it was piping hot. The timing turns out perfect for that documentary that just came out, however, and I’ll try to watch Road Runner within the next few days. This wasn’t planned, believe it or not.

I enjoyed Kitchen Confidential. My picks are all over the place as of late, it feels like I’m trying things on for size again, but Eat a Peach by David Chang was already a hit with me in January and trying out Bourdain’s boo
Apr 19, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was really interesting to get an inside peek into the pressure and complexity of some of these kitchens that were plating for 200 to 300 customers a night. On top of that there was the wheeling and dealing, not only suppliers but with owners, bosses, drug runners and other associated people. It turns out that, in this industry, unlike many, its not what you know, but, *what you actually know* plus, who you know. People do not come back for mediocre food or service.

I would have loved to have e
Mar 25, 2019 rated it did not like it
I had Kitchen Confidential for quite a while lying in my e-reader and I thought it was about time I read it. I wish I hadn't now! I had thought a book about food can never possibly be so boring and disgusting. But Anthony Bourdain's personality permeates throughout the book and put me off completely.

Bourdain appears to have had a decent enough childhood and his chapter about discovering good food in France was nice. But the rest of it was just him being a dickhead. It is no surprise that most i
Jul 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Jessica Woodbury
No one needs me to tell them anything about this book, I feel like I'm the last person in the universe to read it. Bourdain is a really good writer and he makes it very hard to criticize him, anything you're going to say he's already said. And yet.

I started out enjoying this a lot but after a while it lost some momentum. More than that, I just started to get tired of the shtick. You know, the macho tough kitchen guy shtick. Bourdain insists that this is how it is and also insists, in the way onl
May 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It’s evident early on Anthony Bourdain lived the life on the edge and had a penchant for the underworld, the misfits and the miscreants. He depicts his early adventures in the kitchen, making life long friends with some of the seediest players, the kitchens he was most fond of were toxic masculine playgrounds, typical locker room behaviour, plenty of ass slapping, penis grabbing and hurled abuses and insults the order of the day. Very much a place to easily score drugs, get laid and get into all ...more
Joa Bartolome
Mar 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
With its brutally honest narrative, I learned from Bourdain's view that the kitchen is no place for hobbyists and requires insane dedication. It's really an inspiring read that I highly recommend. Cheers! ...more
Feb 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Anthony Bourdain. Wow. He is a mixed, crazy bag of crazy. I keep referring to him as in the present but of course he is gone. There are many quotes he says about suicidal behavior of other cooks. It is very eery.

I didn't click with the book the first time around so I tried again and it clicked....

At the time of his starting out in the culinary field cooking crews were a bunch of misfits, drug addicts/dealers, criminals, thugs etc. The rejects of society. His book is raw. He talks about his heroi
[4.5] Hot damn, Bourdain could write. Despite his legions of fans, plenty of them well-read people, I hadn't expected his prose to be so sparky and propulsive. He definitely wasn't just a TV personality. And this book is so action-packed it deserves to be classified as Adventure.

The structure seems quite daring by the standards of popular non-fiction from twenty years ago, and takes more liberties and digressions within itself than might be expected from the section titles. There's a strong sens
May 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, essays
"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
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Anthony Bourdain was the author of the novels Bone in the Throat and Gone Bamboo, in addition to the mega-bestsellers Kitchen Confidential and A Cook’s Tour.

His work has appeared in The New York Times and The New Yorker, and he was a contributing authority for Food Arts magazine. He was the host of the popular Emmy and Peabody Award winning television show Parts Unknown.

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