Thursday, July 19, 2018

Book Review: Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain
One of the joys of my audible account has been my new found love of autobiographies or non-fiction. Up until late last year my TBR list gravitated around young adult and/or fantasy. It was a surprise to find I could get into other stories, especially about real people, and it was a treat that one of my book club members chose Anthony Bourdain's book this month.

Kitchen Confidential was Anthony Bourdain's first book, published in 2000. It recounts the story of his introduction into the restaurant business, the moment he fell in love with food, and includes trickles of advice for working and eating in the culinary industry. 

GOOD POINT: The main take away from this reading experience was, have a tough stomach or at least don't be offended by what he writes about, because honestly it's the truth. He sees no reason to lie and so he lays it all to bare, leaving the reader to decide if they should continue reading or give up from shock as they clutch their pearls.

The culinary industry is not some mystical fantastical place where you can go and make your wildest dreams of being a top rated famous chef come true. It is in fact, according to Bourdain, a dark underbelly where the deprived, lustful, lonely, drugged out, and often criminal element go to dwell.

He makes it clear that this is what it is and you either handle it or get the fuck out and find something else to do with your life. For him, there was nothing else. He fit in and he knew it.

GOOD POINT: Accepting who you are and doing it on purpose. Bourdain does not shy away from discribing his excessive drug use or the fact that he was not the best chef at the beginning of his career, even so far as being at the helm of many restaurants that were doomed to fail.

He speaks of this a lot throughout the book. The fact that the every man, the successful business man, the dreamer; these are all men that won't necessarily make it in the restaurant business. He should know, as he watched many of them waste their money and watch their culinary dreams disappear with it.

After reading it's hard to not think of him as an arrogant prick, but once you get past all the bullshit he did you come to realize that he is correct. The fact is dreams don't save a restaurant, hard work, determination, sacrifice, and a damn good menu do. 

GOOD POINT: Despite our worlds being vastly different, there is an element of relatability. It was engrossing and poignant even if you never thought of ever entering the culinary business. The idea that you have to love learning about your passion every day if you truly want to succeed in it. Of sacrificing family in order to do the work that needs to be done. Not many can do it, Bourdain knows that, and that is why he felt the need to say so to a wider audience.

This book doesn't go much into his television career and I was okay with that. I know there are additional published works of his that I am sure tackle that part of his life. I look forward to picking those up one day and getting as invested as I was with reading this one.

As far as the writing goes, I would say that it was pretty good for a first book and also a book of stories that are strung together. As I mentioned I listened to the audio book so that Anthony Bourdain himself could read it to me, but even through that I could tell that the writing was decent and flowed well. Though I did have some issues with the audio, I'm guessing because it was an older recording.

I thought this did well showing a side of an industry that many don't get to see. If you are so inclined, I highly recommend it.

BAD POINT: Accepting the fact that no matter what restaurant you go to vermin and rodents will be abundant.

 5 out of 5 stars

Read this also:   

Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook by Anthony Bourdain

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