Books! Yes, we still have them and yes, we still need them.
In Honor of His New Show
Called No Reservations featured on the Travel Channel, Mondays, at 10 pm.
Below, a review of Bourdain’s book Kitchen Confidential.
Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
A reader might require an acute interest in all things culinary or an understanding of the logistics of New York to better enjoy this book of shock, fun and information as regards chefdom. But then again, maybe not. For the author and chef extraordinaire, Anthony Bourdain, is, and this surprises me to no end, an absolutely wonderful writer. I figure if a chef of such renown can write so well, perhaps I, an imagined writer, could cook right well if of a mind.
Bourdain relates his tale of aspiring, learning and achieving a career as a chef as if parts of a grand meal. For the appetizer we learn about his exploits in the infamous Culinary Institute of America. For the main course we learn of many New York restaurants that suffered Bourdain as a chef and from which he emerged a more experienced and worldly wise chef. For dessert the author teaches us the many culinary terms and advises those of us who aspire to chefdom of the basic rules to guaranteed cooking success.
“This business grows assholes: it’s our principal export. I’m an asshole. You should probably be an asshole too.”
The above quote reflects the street-wise honesty and New York attitude of the author. In an interesting bow to current events, Bourdain tells of his time as chef on top of the World Trade Center in a bittersweet narration as the reader realizes the book was obviously written before the 9/11 attacks. Bourdain also spent some time cooking in my own home town of Baltimore and what he has to say about this mid-Atlantic burg not only did NOT insult this native, the tale had me rolling in the aisles in his right-on-the-money assessment of the city with no discernible personality.
This reader struggled at times to understand the culinary terms bandied about. This reader, despite having no experience in the restaurant world beyond that of a diner, totally enjoyed the behind the scenes account of what really goes on in the famous kitchens of the world. They curse, smoke, cut, bake, chop, scream, do drugs and in-between all this human activity, manage to serve restaurant crowds every night, weekends and holidays.
The book left me with one nagging question, for the author firmly believes the best food requires little addition by the cook beyond absolute freshness and superior quality, a notion espoused by many who cook with a passion. I must ask, however – should this concept take hold across the world, wouldn’t this negate the need for such as chefs?
Oh well. They can always become writers.
Other Book Reviews by Pat Fish right here on Blogcritics: