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Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly [Paperback]

Anthony Bourdain
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)

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Book Description

19 April 2001
'I've been a chef in New York for more than ten years, and, for the decade before that, a dishwasher, a prep drone, a line cook, and a sous-chef. I came into the business when cooks still smoked on the line and wore headbands ' After twenty-five years of 'sex, drugs, bad behaviour and haute cuisine', chef and novelist Anthony Bourdain has decided to tell all. From his first oyster in the Gironde to his lowly position as a dishwasher in a honky tonk fish restaurant in Provincetown (where he first experiences the real delights of being a chef); from the kitchen of the Rainbow Room atop the Rockefeller Center to drug dealers in the East Village, from Tokyo to Paris and back to New York again, Bourdain's tales of the kitchen are as passionate as they are unpredictable, as shocking as they are funny. This unforgettable book will change the way you view restaurants for ever.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; 1st Ecco Ed edition (19 April 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060934913
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060934910
  • Product Dimensions: 20.3 x 13.5 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (93 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,079,300 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

Kitchen Confidential is for diners who believe that their sublime sliver of seared foie gras, topped with an ethereal buckwheat blini and a drizzle of piquant huckleberry sauce, was created by a culinary artist of the highest order, a sensitive, highly refined executive chef. The truth is more brutal. More likely, writes Anthony Bourdain, that elegant three-star concoction is the collaborative effort of a team of "wacked-out moral degenerates, dope fiends, refugees, a thuggish assortment of drunks, sneak thieves, sluts and psychopaths," in all likelihood pierced or tattooed and incapable of uttering a sentence without an expletive or a foreign phrase. Such is the muscular view of the culinary trenches from one who's been groveling in them, with obvious sadomasochistic pleasure, for more than 20 years.

Bourdain, currently the executive chef of the celebrated Les Halles, wrote two culinary mysteries before his first (and infamous) New Yorker essay launched this frank confessional about the lusty and larcenous real lives of cooks and restaurateurs. He is obscenely eloquent, unapologetically opinionated, and a damn fine storyteller--a Jack Kerouac of the kitchen. Those without the stomach for this kind of joyride should note his opening caveat: "There will be horror stories. Heavy drinking, drugs, screwing in the dry-goods area, unappetizing industry-wide practices. Talking about why you probably shouldn't order fish on a Monday, why those who favour well-done get the scrapings from the bottom of the barrel, and why seafood frittata is not a wise brunch selection.... But I'm simply not going to deceive anybody about the life as I've seen it." --Sumi Hahn --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Bourdain describes the restaurant subculture with swaggering style. But his greatest asset here is his voice: a committed smoker's voice," -- The Daily Telegraph, June 22nd 2002

'He didn't invent the laughing-and-barfing genre, but it's a dish he does exquisitely' -- Gaurdian, January 26th, 2002 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
DON'T GET ME WRONG: I love the restaurant business. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
First off, let me just say that this is a fantastic book. I had a lot of fun reading it, which is why I'm giving the book itself 4 stars.

However, I feel that I should warn people about the Kindle version. They seem to have used OCR or something, as there are LOTS of typos and mistakes. "I" (referring to Bourdain) often becomes "J", words are pushed together ("I did notthink that..."), and punctuation is often missed out entirely. It's very frustrating and often makes sentences hard to understand. I found myself having to re-read sections in order to make sense of them.

If you can look past these faults then go for it, but be warned. I hope that all Kindle books haven't been reproduced as poorly as this (this is my first Kindle purchase).
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This man can't just cook, he can write. That was my first surprise. The second surprise was realizing how interesting the world of cooking and behind-swinging-doors kitchen life seemed to me after reading this book. He makes what would seem, to me anyway, a mundane and even boring sub-world come very much alive for the reader. Mr. Bourdain obviously loves what he does, and he communicates that love with great joy and, quite often, with the bawdy relish of a teenager telling a dirty joke to his friends.
I couldn't put it down. I laughed out loud. I learned a ton of new information about food, cooking, and the restaurant business. I recommended it to a friend and he loved it. It made me want to meet the author and hang out in his kitchen. What more can you ask for from a book about being a chef?
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rock'n'Roll Cook's Tale 15 Oct 2003
Anthony Bourdain is a very good writer. His style is that easy flow that seems like he's just talking to you - and it suits this book perfectly.
From his drug-hazed beginnings in chefdom to his (later) lucid appreciation of all things culinary, you do get a real sense of the chaos and artistry that takes place in most kitchens.
He changes tack about 3/4 of the way through and goes from being a hard-nosed old-hander, telling you like it is, to a more self-effacing well-rounded chef, explaining that his way is not always the best way.
It's a culinary roller-coaster ride, full of sharp little stories, and handy advice for people eating out in restaurants (what to avoid, specifically!) - as well as an open and honest assessment of his own career.
An easy read - quite rewarding, not particularly gripping, but worthwhile all the same.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No sign of Mr Oliver then ? 26 Jun 2001
Format:Paperback I'm not the first chef to write a review of this brilliant book but I doubt I will be the last, having spent almost as many years working in kitchens as the author this book made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. It's all true ..every word of it, kitchens are foul places to work and the author has show every reader a window into this hellish world. I recognised the types who inhabit this world and could almost feel the heat from the ranges. I laughed out loud especialy at the ' body ' in the freezer. If real life is your thing then spend some cash and buy this book, if Jane Austen is your thing ....I DARE YOU..
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Confessions From A Dark Kitchen 21 Nov 2000
By A Customer
Anthony Bourdain, Executive Chef at Les Halles, New York, has written far more than yet another memoir. Within these pages you will find humour, tragedy, pathos, engaging wit and attention gripping story telling ability. Oh yes, and horror! Never before has the lid been fully lifted from the bubbling cauldron of a professional kitchen to reveal to a hitherto unsuspecting public the full contents therein. Drugs, sex, rock'n'roll and much worse in the sort of excesses which put Fellini and Ken Russell to shame! Gasp at the incredulous characters who appear, sometimes occasionally, in Mr Bourdain's kitchens. Be afraid - be very afraid - as Mr Bourdain tells us all those little tricks of the trade which go on behind closed - or swinging - doors. Having attended catering college and started a career as Sous Chef many years ago I admit that some of these tricks are fairly common knowledge. But there are still tales here which grabbed my attention and made me vow never to go near certain restaurants again! Being based in America gives this book a certain distance - the sort of 'it couldn't happen over here' attitude which predated the arrival of McDonalds - and eccentricity which may deter many from buying it. Their loss. They will be missing out on one of this year's surprise successes, one of the most entertaining food books on the market and the sort of brutal reality that seems to have been lost in this country. Quite possibly, though, it is not lost but just hidden under a glutinous sauce of celebrity chef and Deliaism!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it and EAT! 1 Mar 2001
By A Customer
Anthony Bourdain tells the truth about realities in the restaurant world no one is supposed to know about;drugs, sex, rock and roll, attitude to spare, freaks & geeks, in essence - the underbelly of the beast where you eat. Take his advice about what days of the week to eat seafood or fish, and what NEVER to eat from a specials board. An engaging, down and dirty read that is funny and satisfying. A must read if you've ever worked in a kitchen, and well worth it if you haven't.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real chef's rant.. 4 Feb 2003
By Aaron
I was given this book and instructed to read it. I was mildly interested in it as I do love food. What I wasn't prepared for was how much this book would cause me to love food (and be fascinated by it) even more. I loved everything about his book. Of course this doesn't mean that it's the greatest book ever written. What it does mean is that it was exactly what I like in a book.
I laughed out loud many many times. I was shocked in places, especially at Tony's stabbing of a fellow (though arguably deserving) cook's hand!
His love of food was great to read, as was his acid writing style. As a previous reviewer said, it makes me want to meet Tony.
I will be reading A Cook's Tour as soon as get my hands on it. Just read it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing
Brilliant book and unbelievably like the real thing! If your not going to work in a professional kitchen then read this as you almost feel like you are there!
Published 9 hours ago by jamesh89
5.0 out of 5 stars the truth about ny kitchens
A great quick tempo read through the career of Bourdain, it's amazingly not an autobiography per se but a record of experience during his times in kitchens..... Just read it! Read more
Published 5 days ago by bennymac22
5.0 out of 5 stars You Can Almost Taste It
I saw this title on a friend's bookshelf, read the sleeve and Kindled it up. What a ride!

You probably (though not absolutely) have to enjoy food, to enjoy eating out,... Read more
Published 15 days ago by Nick Lincoln
1.0 out of 5 stars Oh dear I think not!
Was so looking forward to this as interested in all things cookery related but it was an effort to be frank. Didn't match the reviews for me.
Published 1 month ago by Kirkie
5.0 out of 5 stars Kitchen bible
Its just raw,real and awesome,I have read it twice and told people I know that have worked in the industry and those that have not to buy it and they have and loved it!
Published 2 months ago by tom
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard to put down.
Brilliant book, I'm not a big reader myself but I couldn't put it down, was quite hilarious for the most and being a chef myself some of the things are so truthful it's funny. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Darryl Brennan
5.0 out of 5 stars A Romp Through The Hallowed World Behind The Swing Doors
Exceptionally well-written - Anthony Bourdain doesn't appear to have used a ghost writer - this semi-autobiographical tome is a shocking eye-opener into the world of the chef; from... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Diane
5.0 out of 5 stars Rock and roll lifestyle
Excellent read. Bourdain writes beautifully. That combined with his insight into the New York resturant trade in the time he was in it has resulted in a must read for any foodie. Read more
Published 3 months ago by MR M A EDMONDSON
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Great book for all cooks, chefs and food lovers. It says how it is. And everyone should read it, to find out what does it mean being a chef.
Published 3 months ago by Adam Robenek
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
Absolutely fantastic and utterly truthful portrayal of the restaurant business. From the very beginning of working in a kitchen to being the pirate of your own ship. A must read.
Published 4 months ago by Katie Thomas
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