On the drive up to Wisconsin for Thanksgiving, my husband and I listened to Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain, read by the author. Edited from Goodreads:
A deliciously funny, delectably shocking banquet of wild-but-true tales of life in the culinary trade from Chef Anthony Bourdain, laying out his more than a quarter-century of drugs, sex, and haute cuisine.
Bourdain gives away secrets of the trade in his wickedly funny, inspiring memoir/expose. Kitchen Confidential reveals what Bourdain calls “twenty-five years of sex, drugs, bad behavior and haute cuisine.”
I had already read this on paperback in 2012 and loved it. Nick has been a fan of Bourdain’s tv shows, so I thought this would be something great for both of us. And it was! Even better on audio than on paper, as expected when read by Bourdain himself. Here’s some of my review from 2012, which I still feel about the book:
Part memoir, part exposé, part editorial, Kitchen Confidential was totally engrossing for me. Bourdain brazenly describes his inflated self-confidence and youthful pride, while admirably owning up to mistakes, failures, and shameful moments in his career. He gives credit where it is deserved and shows honest appreciation for hard work, dedication, and tenacity in the kitchen. Bourdain knows he is not a perfect chef—or human being, for that matter. I like how Bourdain did not gussy up his writing with too-unusual terms or flowery language. He rhapsodizes about food, of course, but in a genuine, down-to-earth way. After all the descriptions of how nasty, chaotic, and vulgar restaurant employees and kitchens are (in Bourdain’s experience), I really loved the chapter about Scott Bryan and his kitchen.
A section that really stood out this time around for me on audio was the “day in the life of a chef” chapter—just the relentless pace and stress of it was mind-boggling. I wasn’t quite as shocked by the behind-the-scenes kitchen reveals, but the tips for restaurant dining (don’t order fish specials on Mondays, etc.) were interesting… I wonder how many still hold up today, 15 years after the book’s original publication.
Kitchen Confidential is not PC—plenty of vulgar language and stupid behavior—and a seriously entertaining read. I still haven’t gotten around to any of his other, newer books; I better get on that!
Listened to audiobook from November 22 to 25, 2015.