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kitchen-confidential.jpgI just finished reading Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential – Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly.  But, before I give my opinion of the book, I need you all to know that I am always incredibly entertained and fascinated by Anthony Bourdain.  I started watching his show, No Reservations, on the Travel Channel over a year ago and have been completely hooked.  In fact, sometimes I’m even mezmerized by the places he goes, people he meets, food he eats and just about everything he says.  I think that’s it, I am just so enthralled by the way Tony speaks.  As Daniel Halpern says in the interview with Tony in the back of the book “It’s a voice that is completely seductive…”.  It is the way he speaks, his narratives, I simply find everything he says to be so intriguing.  He is a great storyteller.

Anyway, now that we have that out of the way.  The book, Kitchen Confidential, was originally written by Bourdain with his fellow chefs/cooks in mind as the audience.  He never thought the book would become so main stream, it’s even a New York Times best seller.  But, for anyone who enjoys food and dining out, you will really enjoy Bourdain’s behind the scenes look at the restaurant industry.  The book provides a background on Bourdain and how he got into the business of being a chef in the first place.  It then follows the path through his life cooking.

The book was originally released in 2000 (I have the updated edition published in 2007).  In 2000, Bourdain was still working as a line cook.  Some of his stories are just crazy and could only happen in the restaurant industry.  It is the real lives of cooks and restaurants.  He admits that a lot of what he experienced throughout his 25 years in cooking and in restaurants has changed.   Today, people regard cooks and chefs as more that just menial labor.  We are so much more interested in food and trying new food and cooking methods these days than they we were even 15 years ago.  I was just reading an article about how Americans go out to eat now more than ever in history. 

One of my favorite chapters in the book is called From Our Kitched to Your Table.  In this chapter, Tony warns us about all the “what not to do’s” when you go out to eat.  For example, never order fish on Mondays, especially if it is a “Special”.  By Monday, the fish is already 4 days old.  The chef places his fish order on Thursday, it arrives on Friday.  He hopes to sell most of the fish during the busy Friday and Saturday dinners.  He assumes that if he has any left on Sunday he can get rid of it on Sunday and as a “Special” on Monday.  Of course, he can order more fish for delivery on Monday, but the fish guy is doing the same thing, delivering his weekend leftovers to the restaurants on Mondays.  So, most likely that tuna you plan to order on Monday night has been hanging out in the restaurant’s reach-in cooler, with the doors opening every few minutes during the dinner rushes, for at least 4 days.  No thank you!  Of course, this is probably not typical of every restaurant, but still makes you think, huh?

Kitchen Confidential is a great read!  Bourdain’s life is full of off the wall and interesting stories.  He provides great insight into the restaurant industry and what might be happening to your food before it is placed in front of you.  I can’t wait to read another one of Bourdain’s books.  My next read will be either Bone in the Throat or Gone Bamboo.  So, stay tuned for my thoughts on more of Bourdain’s books.

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