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Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany
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Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany

3.90  ·  Rating details ·  23,788 ratings  ·  2,049 reviews
A highly acclaimed writer and editor, Bill Buford left his job at The New Yorker for a most unlikely destination: the kitchen at Babbo, the revolutionary Italian restaurant created and ruled by superstar chef Mario Batali. Finally realizing a long-held desire to learn first-hand the experience of restaurant cooking, Buford soon finds himself drowning in improperly cubed c ...more
Paperback, First Vintage Books Edition, 318 pages
Published June 26th 2007 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2006)
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Nick This book is fantastic, I highly recommend it! I would also suggest Kitchen Confidential and Medium Raw
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 ·  23,788 ratings  ·  2,049 reviews

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Start your review of Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany
Alex Givant
Excellent book showing what it takes to become a cook. Loved his dedication to get skill from different place (like his multiple trips to the butcher shop in Italy), his humor (getting 225 lbs pig to Manhattan apartment in elevator :-)). I would recommend this book to anybody who wants to understand how much work the good cook put in (long shifts, endless trying to perfect cooking techniques) and what is food about (like his search of who first put eggs into pasta). I loved his idea of small foo ...more
May 14, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: culinary adventurers
Shelves: finished
I had mixed feelings on this one. It started out swimmingly--I was howling with laughter as the author detailed the highs (including the extracurricular highs) and the lows of the Babbo employment experience. I was shocked (in a highly amused way) by the author's description of Batali. Surely, the soft-spoken, well-mannered guy I cheer for on Iron Chef America could not be telling his servers to "pistol-whip" unruly customers with their unmentionables behind Babbo's closed doors! (If true, as a ...more
Petra X is feeling so stressed she has eczema
I read this book last year and it was deleted from my booklist by Goodreads. Who naturally say this couldn't happen, I must have deleted it myself. I've never been able to prove before that the book was on my booklist until this one. It's not on my list yet I read it, and I wrote a comment last October on a friend's, Karen's review. I just came across this comment today.

"The bit about eating pure pork fat close to the beginning really put me off. It doesn't matter what fancy name you call it, no
Apr 23, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I started reading Heat without any prior knowledge of Mario Batali. I'd never cooked from any of his cookbooks, or seen his show. That said, the book was an interesting look at his life - an absolutely crazy one filled with gluttony, extreme restaurant hours and seemingly never-ending partying.

But the focus of the book is not only Batali (although he steals the show, in my opinion). Actually written by Bill Buford about his time spent in one of Batali's restaurant kitchens (Babbo in NYC), Heat a
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I have to admit I picked this up because Anthony Bourdain was reading it on his show "No Reservations" (and he wrote Kitchen Confidential). This is the story of an editor for the New Yorker who ends up in the kitchens of Mario Batali - it is an encounter of his experiences in the kitchen, plus a biography of Mario, plus a history of food - all at the same time. I really enjoyed this. It took me back to my restaurant days, expressing the outrageous kitchen culture that you would not believe if yo ...more
If Buford’s name sounds familiar, it’s because he was the founding editor of Granta magazine and publisher at Granta Books, but by the time he wrote this he was a staff writer for the New Yorker. Mario Batali is this book’s presiding imp. In 2002–3, Buford was an unpaid intern in the kitchen of Batali’s famous New York City restaurant, Babbo, which serves fancy versions of authentic Italian dishes. It took 18 months for him to get so much as a thank-you. Buford’s strategy was “be invisible, be u ...more
Dec 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Most food writing is shit. It wallows in superlatives as brazenly as real estate hustings. But really good writing about food makes the heart soar.

This is in the second category. Partially because Buford is so craven, so desperate to GET what it is like being young, dumb and full of come in a kitchen more stuffed with wise-asses and borderline personality disorders than the average martini olive.

Lots of guys take up lycra and the bike for their mid-life thingo. Or get expensive mistresses. Or fo
Sep 05, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
i got this to read on the airplane, and it did an admirable job for that precise purpose. but there's one thing that's a real problem for this book. About halfway through, he ends a chapter saying he has to leave New York to deal with "personal demons." Fine. But he never mentions what they are/ were. And the book is all under the guise of a kind of memoir. If he's not going to tell the reader what those demons are, don't use it as a cliffhanger/ enticement to keep reading. Not only is it suprem ...more
Amanda Wilkins
Aug 31, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A must-read for foodies and Slow Foodies.

In one passage of the book, Bill Buford becomes preoccupied with researching when, in the long history of food on the Italian peninsula, cooks started putting eggs into their pasta dough. He decides to go on a quest to Italy and meets with the cook at La Volta, a small restaurant in the town of Porretta Terme. Mario Batali lived and worked here during an internship before going to New York and opening Babbo. He considers the cook, Betta, and all the othe
Kasa Cotugno
Kitchen culture from the inside. Interesting re-read in light of the updated history of Mario Batali who plays such a prominent role in this book that was written before me-too.
Jan 25, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, I enjoyed this way more than I expected! On more than one occasion I ate lunch in my car so I could keep listening. Hilarious, insightful, and mouth-watering. Buford's taste in food is just a bit different from mine - I can't count the pounds of "lardo" that he consumes over the telling - but his journey feels very kindred. Amateur cook learns skills, travels to Italy, appreciates homemade traditional food. Except he happens to be completely obsessive and surrounded by larger than life char ...more
Nov 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: united-states, italy
I loved this book of the author’s passion for food. Bill Buford met over-the-top, intense, and famed Chef Mario Batali when he had the audacity to invite him to an intimate birthday dinner for a mutual friend. Chef Batali had an excessive passion for food and drink stimulating and feeding the appetites and thirsts of those who crossed his path or entered his restaurants. Mario had a tumultuous past, and his time spent in Italy made him realized that he loved real Italian food. Bill as an editor ...more
Jan 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Casey, Susanna, Marieke
Outstanding on audio.

Over the last couple of years, I have been reading my way through some of the more well-known "cooking" books, which tend to be more memoir than actual cooking: Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, Yes, Chef and Blood, Bones, and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef come to mind. Much of the writing is about the lives of these chefs and how they started cooking. Then it follows their restaurant careers and the success that they have t
Oct 22, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all foodies
Recommended to Meghan by: Charlie E.
Shelves: nonfiction, cooking, own, food
As food critic said about Babbo, I say about this book, I would have given it four stars but...

I felt that the story lagged when he worked with the Butcher in Tuscany. But some of the most hilarious adventures happened there too.

"I had concerns....The other was that my apron, which was floor-length, would catch on fire. I rehearsed in my mind the possible scenario. The apron is secured around the waist with a string belt....So that was the first thing--untie it. If I didn't, it could be ugly. I
Mar 23, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009, italy, united-states
I loved this book a whole lot - and warn that should you tackle it, please do so with a large amount of red wine and italian food readily available. Much like it's torture to watch Chocolat without chocolate, it would be rude not to eat pasta and drink red wine while this book's in your life.

The book's an amalgamation of many things I love - cooking, peeking behind the scenes at famous restaurants, drinking wine, contemplating where food does and should come from. Buford spent just over a year s
Sep 30, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Let me preface this review with a disclaimer, I am not a foodie; I am an eater. My only interest in food typically is how it tastes, not its journey from field to slaughterhouse to restaurant to the particulars of preparation to my plate to my stomach, but Buford might have changed my perspective. His literary-historical perspective on Tuscan food, his wild, uproarious tales from the life of Mario Batali and the Babbo kitchen, and his engaging portraits of food culture in Italia, were thoroughly ...more
Feb 12, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A terrific reading of a hugely entertaining book. The very long title pretty much summarizes the gist: Mr. Buford, a writer and editor, finagles a job working in Chef Mario Batali's NYC restaurant, Babbo, starting as lowly, brow-beaten kitchen prep, and proceeds, without any real ambition, to work his way up, somewhat, in the kitchen hierarchy. This stretch of the book will be familiar to anyone who has read Anthony Bourdain's "Kitchen Confidential," both in terms of restaurant and cooking detai ...more
Jul 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I read half this book, really enjoyed it, and then had to return it to the library. I ended up finishing it on Audible and thoroughly enjoyed it. With the recent #MeToo movement, it was particularly interesting to hear about Chef Mario's behavior. The sheer amount they drank throughout the book was unbelievable. Loved every aspect, and so glad I came back to Heat. It really is one of the quintessential books on food. ...more
Tom Carrico
Mar 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Book Review

Heat by Bill Buford
Reviewed by Tom Carrico

Bill Buford is a former editor of the “The New Yorker” magazine, founding editor of “Granta” magazine and publisher of Granta Books. His hobby was cooking. He cooked for friends and business associates and on one occasion for the renowned chef Mario Batali. That occasion prompted Mr. Buford to quit his job at “The New Yorker” and sign on as an unpaid intern at Batali’s three star Italian restaurant Babbo in New York City. This book is part mem
Dec 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This book is often gross and it hasn’t aged well (Batali down!). It’s also fabulously immersive, funny, erudite, and a welcome escape in a time of no travel, no restaurants, and no more nights at the bar with you brilliant boozehound of a friend. Eagerly awaiting his French book.

Moira Burke
Feb 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Bill Buford likes to surround himself with histrionic people, whose antics frequently cross the line into violence. First, it was the soccer hooligans. Now it's three-star NY chef Mario Batali and Italian butcher Dario Cecchini. You can imagine Buford and Batali, into their fifth bottle of wine in a dim New York hot spot at three in the morning, Buford regaling the imbecilic escapades of the Man United fans in the eighties, and Batali savoring (and interrupting) every detail. Not content with h ...more
Jul 01, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one.
When I first started this book, I asked my friend Jen what she thought of it. Not much, apparently; she didn't find the author "compelling". It was just boring, even for an amateur cook like me. He describes things (like when egg was first introduced as an ingredient in pasta) that he says most people would not be interested in, and then goes on and on ad nauseum about them. If you know they are not interesting to people, then why go into detail about them? It is odd that he was an editor for Th ...more
Actually, I only got a little over halfway through the book before I realized I had lost the momentum. It was really entertaining at first, but a lot reminded me of Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential without the cred. I couldn't help but start getting frustrated that Buford did not deserve the privilege and luxury of jumping from station to station in the Babbo kitchen just because he felt like it--especially when his colleagues had been busting their balls for years (and were largely getting it ri ...more
Aug 23, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Food as:

- a business
- an artform
- an intellectual interest
- a link to the soil
- a tenuous and evocative link to the past


- recipes (of a sort, since recipes are for home cooks, we learn) for linguine with clams, the tuscan version of beef bourginion, and more
- mario batali is a foul-mouthed drunk who loves the ladies
- restaurant kitchens are no place for the myth and mystery of food (e.g., the $29 bowl of "peasant" soup made from scraps); dried pasta served at high-end italian restaurants

Siobhan Fallon
Some of this book is amazing, but I found it uneven as a whole. I picked it up because I was curious about Mario Batali, but the Batali of this book is the least interesting character of all. The final chapters, when Bill Buford goes to Italy to apprentice with a butcher, are absolutely gorgeous.
Bill Buford was an editor at the New Yorker and his breath of knowledge shows. He is best when discussing Italy, everything from the making of tortellini (and the rumor that they are modeled after the p
Jan 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I read this book on vacation and it completely altered my state of mind! I was transported into the world of a commercial kitchen, and then to Italy for historic preparation of handmade pasta. Bill Buford is a delightful author, funny and a little insane.

Only two complaints about this book. First, I was disgusted when he went to work for a butcher and, in great detail, described his new expertise. I sped read through that chapter, but I've eaten primarily vegetarian for more
Dec 05, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well, I love the premise of this book, and I began it with gusto (insert lame gastronomy joke here), but it became a little too detailed and meandering in parts for me and I lost interest.

I was really excited by Buford's accounts of working in the kitchen at Babbo, a restaurant I used to walk by, gaze longingly towards, but never ate at. It sort of read like a long New Yorker article, which makes sense, and is a good thing, but began to wear thin when Buford travels to Italy (See Valerie's revie
Jul 08, 2007 rated it it was ok
I enjoyed the descriptions of food and of Italy, but I frequently found myself comparing Buford's self-assigned temporary experience as a journalist-turned-culinary-kind-of-person to Bordain's authentic experience as an actual chef in Kitchen Confidential . Overall, I preferred Bordain's account of the fast-and-furious culinary lifestyle. ...more
Aug 20, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
It doesn't say so on the cover, but this book is about Batali and the author's sycophancy toward him. While I was initially interested to hear the author's experiences in professional kitchens, Batali gave me the creeps even before #metoo. Perhaps this isn't a fair evaluation of the author and the book, but I was unable to get through more than 30 pages. There are too many other things to read (and cook!). ...more
Aug 23, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio, cooking
He's so funny and so enthusiastic and so deluded--so human. It really is fascinating to see the lengths people will go for their passion, if they can. This is pulls the curtain back at bit from professional chef-ery, and restaurant cooking in general. For the few that make it big, there are millions who slave in the heat...I don't think I will ever forget the polenta anecdote. ...more
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Bill Buford is an American author and journalist.
Buford is the author of the books:
Among the Thugs and Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany.

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