Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Ok, finished Kitchen Confidential on Sunday. Really enjoyed every chaotic minute of it. Anthony Bourdain's voice is one of the strongest aspects of the book. It feels like he's just smoking a cigarette and telling you stories, sitting across from you at a busy restaurant. His blunt and often totally self deprecating descriptions are terrific. The basic story of his culinary pursuits begins with a childhood trip to France where he discovers that he loves eating strange food and impressing people with his daring appetites, and then follows his education at a variety of restaurants, the CIA (not the government agency) and then his constant ups and downs as a talented but self destructive chef. He closed numerous restaurants, consumed a variety of illegal substances, kicked heroin, met some amazing friends, and collected a motley kitchen crew of degenerates, eccentrics and ball breakers to assist him in creating delicious high quality food. The main feeling I take away from this book is a deep respect for chefs and cooks who create great food. The discipline, time commitment and multi tasking balancing act that it is to be a chef, is something that I now feel I understand on a much deeper level. The chapter that describes a typical day in Bourdain's life as an executive chef at Les Halles was excellent, giving such a clear picture of the organization, creativity, stamina and dedication it takes to be a top chef. That man is a bad-ass. Fast read, but it was over too quickly. I'll be picking up a couple of his other books soon.

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