Last night I finished reading Anthony Bourdain‘s Kitchen Confidential. This book was easily one of the funniest volumes I’ve read in the past several years. Coarse, profane, yet insightful – this book is less an exposé of the commercial kitchen than of the author himself. Bourdain shares expertly crafted anecdotes about his restaurant years, all the while exhorting the readers to accept and appreciate professional cooking (and it’s oft unseemly cast of characters) for what it is.
Two stand-out chapters (also the longest, I think…):
1. A Day in the Life – Here we follow Bourdain from his waking before 6 AM through a grueling restaurant Friday ending, exhausted, in a bar at 1 AM. The pacing and detail is extraordinary, convincing me further that I never wish to run a restaurant 🙂
2. Mission to Tokyo – The chef is sent by the owners of Les Halles to a satellite restaurant in Tokyo to consult about the menu. Left to his own exploring devices, Bourdain rapidly falls in love with Japanese food culture. The sense of discovery is palpable, and the reader (or at least THIS reader) is filled with a desire to see the Roppongi district.
I absolutely recommend this book. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it IS hilarious and informative. The format is mildly scattered – more the feeling of semi-chronological narrative with various asides – but easily readable. Taste and enjoy.