Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

I have long enjoyed Anthony Bourdain’s show, No Reservations, and was thrilled to finally sit down with his book: Kitchen Confidential Updated Edition: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly (P.S.). Admittedly, there are plenty of moments that caused me to cringe, but there was also a lot of interesting information to be gleaned about the insides of the restaurant business (at least as he portrays it).

The book is hilariously outspoken and treads a line between conversational and a series of stories thoughtfully strung together. I loved that so much value was placed on the sanctity of a chef’s personal organization of his station/workspace. When I was in college one of my biggest pet peeves was roommates changing the way the kitchen was organized. The ability to cook efficiently is certainly not as important at home, but on a tight schedule it certainly helps; even more than that, however, knowing where things are without needing to search through drawers and cabinets to find what ingredient or utensil that you need makes cooking a much more enjoyable experience!

Bourdain clearly hates vegetarians and customers that order meat well done. I happen to happen to be guilty of both of those offenses, but after learning that placing such an order could very well result in a piece of meat being pulled from the bottom of the barrel made me realize that I’d be better off sucking it up and ordering less-well-done (and therefore higher quality) meat. According to Bourdain, anyway,  if I order it the way chefs think it should be cooked I’ll be far better off. Also on the topic of things I learned about meat, is that adding a dab of butter to the top of a fresh out of the oven/out of the pan/off the grill piece of meat (or anything from the sounds of it) makes a very nice final touch. I guess I could have figured that out, but it’s reassuring to know that pros do it too.

When I finished this book, my first thought was: “Well, I’m glad I finally read this and I should have expected the book to be what it was, but I don’t think I’ll pick it up again.” But just a few days ago I was out grabbing a bite to eat with my boyfriend and realized that I had referenced some tip from Kitchen Confidential; I guess I didn’t dismiss the book as much as I thought I had. In all seriousness though, be prepared for a level of crassness that I do not normally expect nor tolerate in the books that I read. It’s an eye opener, and I don’t want to believe a lot of what I read. However, that being said, if it truly shines a light on the functionality of the food industry I think there is some good stuff to remember the next time you trust a restaurant chef to prepare a meal for you.

I know a lot of people who loved this book and who recommend and re-read it often. I am not one of those people, but it was an interesting (if ultimately disturbing) read. Check it out from the library and decide for yourself, but I would not necessarily suggest running out and purchasing it.

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