Learn more Download now Shop now Browse your favorite restaurants Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Amazon Music Unlimited for Family Shop now Shop now Learn more

on 23 April 2012
I really enjoy Bourdain's show `No Reservations' where he visits different parts of the world, experiencing new cultures and cuisine- and have been wanting to read one of his books for a while. This one comprises two of his travel/food memoirs so I thought it would be the ideal read.

What I appreciated upon opening the first page was that Bourdain writes in pretty much the same way as he speaks on his programmes- his voice comes through clearly in your head. There is no pretention with him, he is open and honest and whilst he knows his stuff culinary wise, he also doesn't shy away at all from painful/uncomfortable memories. The reader immediately ascertains that he is honest, particularly about his own experiences and his `misspent youth.' I came away from reading this with a lot of respect for the guy.

`Kitchen Confidential' recalls Bourdain's early childhood experiences with food and what made him decide to be a chef. It is a real insider's look at the restaurant business within the United States with some thinly veiled tips on how not to operate in a restaurant- as well as what to/not to order on a given day. It is laced with black humour but has its poignant moments too. Bourdain's `rebellious' streak comes to the fore- he can be a real bad-ass on occaision and his struggles with drugs in the 1980's is not held back. Though I enjoyed this book, some of the profanity got a bit dull towards the end- maybe that was because I was just anticipating reading book two of the omnibus?! Overall I give this 3/5.

Of the two novels, I much preferred `A Cook's Tour,' as I found myself engrossed in some of Bourdain's eating adventures in far-flung parts of the globe- Cambodia, Tokyo and... Glasgow to name but a few?! It also left me with a burning ambition to visit `The French Laundry' restaurant in California and try Thomas Keller's spectacular sounding menu- El Bulli and Heston Blumenthal's restaurant have now dropped down the list, thanks to this book. Oh well, maybe one day!

The book is again humorous and poignant in places, with lots of background to the making of the television show that the novel is based on. It did however leave me with a bit of a sour taste in my mouth with some of the animal slaughtering aspects which wasn't glossed over in any way. It will be a long time before I eat pork again, I can tell you that much- and turkey- and I will never, ever eat a lizard now (not that I had considered it before!). This isn't a book for vegetarians, believe me, though Bourdain of course does respect where his food comes from. Overall, I rate this book 4/5.

If you enjoy well written travel and food writing and don't mind profanity-laden sentences, then I would suggest that you check this out!
0Comment| One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 29 April 2013
If you want to retain the image of a top chef being a patient, polite, perfect person who works in a zen-like environment dispensing small plates of culinary goodness, this book is certainly not for you. If you want to get a warts and all look at what can go on in a top kitchen (and many others) read on...

This is a pocket-sized paperback book that is just crying out to be your travelling companion, encapsulating the wit and wisdom of top chef Anthony Bourdain in a revised, annotated version of a classic. Clearly a book of this nature will see the author's personality come right out of the page, in your face as it were, but there are not pages upon pages of "illustrative" photography of the chef and his gurning face in "lifestyle poses." Fortunately the text has to do the work and an engaging read it is too.

There are things that will have your jaw firmly drooping towards your chest as you read through this, no matter how much you thought you knew about what happened behind the swing doors in a professional, high pressure kitchen. There might even be things you wished that you never knew, but the magic will still remain. You might just view things in a slightly different light in the future...

Throughout the book there are many scrawled (printed) notes and annotations in what is said to be the author's own handwriting. In some ways this just felt a bit cheesy, instead of using a printed footnote, but it didn't irritate this reviewer and the additional bits and pieces gave a little more of an insight. Of course, the annotations were hardly spontaneous and off the cuff... The book's small size might feel a bit of a hard read for those with less than perfect eyesight but you certainly won't have to worry about overspilling into a neighbour's seat whilst you are on a holiday flight somewhere.

This is one of those books that you can (and should) read several times. With each read through new bits of information come out, other dots become joined and more "aha!" moments possibly follow. Should you even remotely be interested in what goes on behind the scenes, this is a great informative, yet light read for you.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 29 November 2017
Dreadful rubbish. Waste of £8. Miserable. Grim. So many good reviews but what a horrible book by an apparently petty, self-obsessed and awkward man. Seems to enjoy treating people very badly; his shameful abuse of suppliers (making them unload everything, then reload, then drive away without making the delivery if they are just a few minutes late?!) had me disliking him right away and it got no better as the book progressed. Has horrendous hand-writing scrawled all over it. Egotistical, abrasive, antagonistic, skewed, crude and overall thoroughly unpleasant. Maybe that is a portrayal of the nature of New York and the people in the hospitality industry there? I like to think not, though I have never been there, so I don't know... If true, reason enough to stay away from NY. Or perhaps just any place closely associated with this individual cook-turned-author. Had expected a light-hearted interesting read with absorbing insights, and although relatively illuminating, for all the wrong reasons, and I found it (so far, about three quarters of the way through) depressing and negative in tone. I would suggest to avoid if you want something uplifting or inspirational.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
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!
22 Comments| 23 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
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?
0Comment| 17 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 25 June 2011
This autobiography is now seen as a classic; it's worth asking how much it has contributed to the assumption among young cooks that the professional catering world is a testosterone-fuelled battlefield, with the customers the enemy as much as rival establishments. However much of this is true to life, Bourdain has undoubtedly chosen to emphasise this aspect of his life's work. "Look at me, I'm the hard man", his photo on the cover like a battle-scarred veteran.

Of course, in his time, Bourdain has worked in bad restaurants as well as good ones. And calm, harmonious behaviour, good manners towards the paying punter and a meticulous approach to food preparation don't make for much of a "shock-horror-exposee" type book. But the stories have an air of tall tales told over a fag in the adrenaline-filled hiatus after a long, stressful service; young men competing for the honour of having done the worst thing, having worked for the most awful boss, in the most filthy kitchen . . . Bourdain's obvious follower is Gordon Ramsay, who has, as well as cornering the market in foul-mouthed bad temper, made several television series from exposing the nasty things that go on in restaurants. And how we lap it up.

War stories are, on the surface, entertaining, but at the end of the day they leave a nasty taste in the mouth. Bourdain's attitude is "this is how things are, bud - live with it" - an attitude that I, for one, find very American. This exposee celebrates, rather than deploring, the worst aspects of the catering world. Any new student reading this is given the impression this is the world they will inevitably be working in. Is this a good thing?

Having quite enjoyed this book at the time, I find I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, nor would I want to read it again. For a gentler, more British - and far funnier - book on the subject try Derek Cooper's classic, The bad food guide
0Comment| 6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
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.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 22 October 2011
I don't read a lot of biographies but knowing that Kitchen Confidential had been on the New York Times best-seller list many years ago I thought I would give it a go.

This is a fascinating book that gives you a detailed and honest insight into the kitchen life of Anthony Bourdain, who is now a 30+ year veteran chef in New York. Think of Gordon Ramsay's restaurant exposes and then double or triple the chaos you often see in his TV shows.

As Anthony passed through one kitchen after another whilst training and working he came across more than his fair share of peculiar, downright weird, neurotic and mentally unstable people. He is honest in his appraisal of himself owning up to be a self-confessed drug addict, heavy drinker, layabout, there-for-the-money type of guy for many years.

But behind this crazy lifestyle his love of cooking and food comes through. The book is written as if he is telling you the story at a late night bar with plenty of shock-value points throughout.

One thing I did find touching was his chapter about a close friend of his, who is a Michelin three star chef. Having described the chaos and chicanery of his own kitchens, he visits the 3 star kitchen and describes with awe and envy, the quiet, dedicated, professional operation of his friend. It brings to the fore that Anthony's kitchen is very much a reflection of his personality - after all, he hires the people he wants to be around him.

All aspiring chefs should read this book - then go and read many other biographies of master chefs to get some balance. For no one in his right mind would want to work in Anthony's world.

Even if you aren't an aspiring chef, this is an excellent book, it is entertaining, funny, at times shocking and it is definitely well worth reading.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 24 January 2002
If the reader is a keen/good cook, the book gives you that adrenaline rush as if you are in the kitchen with Anthony. Thoroughly enjoyed it and felt it very true. So funny! I'm just buying his latest book from Amazon!
0Comment| 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
on 15 September 2012
Anthony Bourdain's 'Kitchen Confidential' gives a fly-on-the-wall (figuratively, not in terms of Health and Hygiene) insight into the chaotic, sweat inducing, competitive, bad tempered, cauldrons of New York restaurant kitchens that seem to attract a broad spectrum of the world's dissidents,transients, odd-balls, argumentative types, and wierdos.

Everything is big in New York from the buildings, automobiles, mass of humanity, size in general of restaurants, and meal portions. Miss Piggy gave excellent advice on the food size front when she pouted out "Never eat more than you can carry." Another factor in New York eating is that the percentage of those cooking meals at home must surely be the smallest anywhere in the world which is evident in the relative sparsity of large grocery retailers. To cope with a large concentrated population, many living in tiny apartments barely big enough for a bed and armchair, eat out for much of the time, and restaurants are plentiful and larger than the average.

It is in these commercial, busy, large and almost round the clock, 7/24 eating establishments that Anthony Bourdain learnt and perfected his culinary skills which this excellent book interestingly details. His passion for food is obvious as he once mused "To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese, is a life not worth living."
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse

Sponsored Links

  (What is this?)