4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 26 June 2001
Ok..so 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..
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 20 October 2010
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).
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
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.
22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on 21 November 2000
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!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Definitely a book of two courses this one. I make no apology for stretching the culinary metaphor to its limit (possibly even to the extent of flogging it to death).
Parts of "Kitchen Confidential" are brilliant - perfectly cooked chateaubriand with allumette potatoes, if you like. Bourdain is without doubt a talented writer. His use of English is precise, varied and lively: often a pleasure to read. The description of "A Day in the Life" is the highlight of the book for me and the description of his old mentor "Bigfoot" had me in stitches.
Unhappily, just as Pot Noodles really do exist, so this book has some poor sides. Bourdain is determined to have us know that:
A. Cooking is very much the new rock `n' roll;
B. That he is Mick Jagger
At first the passages of excess, swearing and drug abuse are, like the first couple of scoops from a Pot Noodle, diverting and tasty (particularly after a couple of drinks), but like that well known snack, quickly become dull and even nauseating and at some points the book is in danger of degenerating into self-indulgent twaddle. Which is a shame.
Overall though, a fine read (I'd suggest it should be REQUIRED reading for anyone who holds any ambition of either cooking for a living or opening a restaurant), worth the money and I shall certainly be looking out more of Bourdains work: given the ability he has as a writer I think his fictional works could be very good indeed.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 March 2007
Bourdain writes a glamorous, fast paced account of his career which gives insights like how not to have fish on a Monday. He's great on the (possibly exaggerated) descriptions of how kitchens worked. You can almost smell the sweat. But he tends to glamorise the drug taking of his youth. When he talks about those days of drug taking every night, it's through rose tinted spectacles. He obviously comes from a well off family who could afford to support him through prestigious chef school, but he doesn't mention their reaction to his heroin addiction - or perhaps they never knew until now. I do find that with a lot of men's biographies they tend to focus on a lot of boring detail like how often they were late for work, and not much about their relationships. I would like to find out more about this from Bourdain. It is well written though, apart from when he gets bogged down in boring detail - like his chapter, a day in the life. It just puts you off being a chef (of course). An entertaining read for foodies - especially people who think they want to run restaurants - it'll put you off.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 1 March 2001
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.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 4 February 2003
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.
17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 12 August 2001
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?
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
As fast and furious as a prep-cook working his way through a pound carrots needing dicing and only a butchers knife at hand and a minute to go. Bourdain lets it all hang out and confirms that cooks are one special breed indeed - when solemnly exercising their creative talents let alone when they're inebriated and/or intoxicated. Both happens a lot in the book but it all helps convey the gristy salty experience it must be to stand with a kitchen akin a bedlam and roomful of people waiting for the soufflé that just collapsed.
It also makes one wonder why we enjoy eating out - even the most unimaginative person can guess what shenanigans go on in the kitchen (and if not, read this book and you won't need any imaginative powers at all). They get up to all sorts and yet, we continually put our palates, stomachs and ultimately lives in the hands of cooks, chefs and kitchen porters.
- Why? Well, Anthony Bourdain has quite clearly survived 25 years in the trade with both tastebuds and narrative powers intact so why shouldn't we - when there is so much to gain. OK, so he does have some sensible advice, which he says he follows himself, including the no-seafood-on-Mondays rule.
Read the book and I think you'll find it as wholesome and satisfactory as four course meal with the one lingering thought it might just have been that one notch closer to perfection had there just been three.