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

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
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's review
Jan 16, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: humor, non-fiction, e-books

One of the best books I've read in the past year. I'm a sucker for memoirs in general, and one this well-written would have drawn me in whether it was about a chef, a baseball player, a plumber or a quilter. The fact that it's by and about a chef, and one I was already a fan of to boot, makes it a slam dunk. Bourdain is a fantastic writer: erudite yet foul-mouthed, vivid, occasionally poetic.

Bourdain's narrative voice is equally gripping, as he is hilarious, humble, self-effacing, and forthright about his flaws and failures in a way almost every writer fails to be when writing about him- or herself. In this, Kitchen Confidential reminded me of Stephen King's On Writing - another nakedly confessional memoir in which the author doesn't flinch from portraying himself as a jackass when appropriate.

This book is also reminiscent of the King memoir in that he jumps back and forth from memories of childhood, to adulthood, to a sort of how-to guide on becoming a solid craftsman in his field. Just as King would be the first to tell you he isn't a great writer, just a good and successful one, Bourdain acknowledges that there are far better chefs than himself out there making far less money, and his advice to would-be cooks takes a similar "this is what has worked for me" tone.

I read this in five or six hours on a Saturday, and I'm sure I'll read it again, or at least refer back to favorite passages.
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