Bourdain tells it like it is

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly - Anthony Bourdain

Bullet Review:

Very interesting and startlingly honest - though if Bourdain is anything like this book shows, I doubt I would want to meet him in person and have a beer.

Full Review:

In our culture of reality TV, one of the great things to come out is a renewed interest in food and chefs. Say what you will, but I definitely have enjoyed watching such personalities as Gordon Ramsay and learning what makes a good and bad dining/eating experience.

Anthony Bourdain is such a personality that thrives in our reality TV-addicted culture. He's brusque; he's coarse; he says his mind without any care for civilities; and he knows what he's talking about. This is part memoir, part kitchen handbook for the amateur.

I probably would have never read this had my boss not lent it to me. While I am an admitted watcher of Kitchen Nightmares (but mostly the UK version - the US version is so repetitive and overdramatic!), I have never seen Anthony Bourdain at all. This was basically my first introduction to me.

And with that introduction, while I respect his expertise and admire his candor, I would NOT want to sit down for dinner with him. He sounds like an arrogant, self-important, erm, @$$hole.

But he is brutally honest. With some memoirs, I feel people sugar-coat their lives to make it seem more glamorous; not so with Bourdain. He's pretty damned open about his drug addiction and how "colorful" life in the back of the kitchen is. He isn't going to pretend that kitchen staff don't sexually harass each other or swear constantly. He won't pretend that it's "all about the food" (well...it is...and it's also, for him, about the money). And he even gives some tips and tricks to amateurs wanting to imitate the professional style - even if he does think that's silly (I love it when he admits that, when he's at home, he LIKES having just a good home cooked meal, not an attempt at restaurant glitz and glamour).

This is not one of the best written books I've ever read. The flow was odd, as Bourdain would be relating his biography and then suddenly stop to give tips on what knives to buy. I also think this was better to listen to on audiobook than read, as hearing Bourdain really helped carry the message of the book. But for people who like cooking memoirs, this was a lot of fun. Be warned though - Bourdain has some salty language