This review is from @elledubya.
If you’re some gastronome who thinks exceptional food is an abstract art that only elite culinary scholars can possibly create—stop reading this and walk away.
Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly is a part memoir, part how- to-restaurant guide that highlights all of the misadventures, drug addictions and scoundrels he picked up throughout his career. Those who love Bourdain for his impetuous personality and balls-to-the-wall way of life will not be disappointed. Kitchen Confidential peers into the secret fraternal order of food service workers. People you probably don’t know because they live at night and don’t know what a weekend is.
Bourdain candidly yanks away the veil shielding many pedestrians from the chaos from which their food comes.
The revelations don’t quite level with Upton Sinclair’s “Jungle” but they will seem pretty gross to the average restaurant-eater. There are tales of rats in the kitchen, sex in the dry goods pantry, cigarette butts being strained out of old butter and then served with your crab legs, borderline spoiled seafood disguised as “Specials” and of the tattooed ex-convicts and illegal immigrants who prepare and plate your $50 dinner of bacon-wrapped scallops with sautéed asparagus in a lemon-white-pepper-butter sauce. *Nomnomnomnom*
But, as Bourdain says, “Food is sex,” and therefore is mathematically also messy, questionably sanitary, delicious, queer and just plain dubious at times.
NOTE: This of course does not apply to every restaurant or kitchen or kitchen staff. Keep in mind much of Bourdain’s escapades took place during the 1970s and the cocaine-driven 1980s. There are very stringent health and food safety laws that restaurants must pass and a broken refrigerator light can shut a place down for weeks. Trust me; I date a member of that secret fraternity I was talking about and am certified in food safety.
Kitchen Confidential chronicles his personal and professional pitfalls, including a downward spiral of booze, heroin and unemployment and gives future restaurateurs several examples of what NOT to do when running a restaurant.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a fan Bourdain as a person. I love him as a chef and judge of character but find he is arrogant and pretentious. Hearing him speak makes me want to drill a hole in concrete with my head and he writes like he talks. But while reading his story in Kitchen Confidential solidified his arrogance and pretention, it also showed me he’s my kind of asshole and I would love to grab a pint with him and say “fuck” a lot.
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