I’m only eleven years late (Kitchen Confidential book review)

jody-bourdain-7996841I’d like to start this book review by noting that at one point in his long, miserable life, Anthony Bourdain was a wreck of a human being.  And, while he may be upset that some random college student is saying this, he cannot disagree.  That said, I would like to follow it up by saying that I truly like Bourdain.  I find him funny and believe that his cooking and attitude is deserving of his celebrity status and notoriety.

But that’s the man.  What of the book?  Well, the book is the man.  Often touted and cited as a guide to life in commercial kitchens or an insider-exposé of what goes on behind the counter, Kitchen Confidential is truly the memoires of a middle-aged Anthony Bourdain.  x4800

Beginning with the tales of a childhood trip to France, inspiration for his lifelong love of food, we’re presented an alien Bourdain.  Beside the obvious age difference, this child dislikes foreign food, commenting distastefully especially on the cheesy butter served in the French cities.  All this comes to a head though, when his parents abandon him and his little brother (in their car) whilst dining in on of France’s most acclaimed restaurants.  Bourdain decides to turn this on his parents by being the first in his family to eat a raw oyster, offered to him by his uncle. 

Thus began his relationship with food.  That said, it would be long before he became a chef.  Rather, he was a delinquent for the younger years, up through college, and then some.  However, at some point in his degenerate life, he went to a beach town over the summer and was forced to work lest he starve to death.  So he got a job washing dishes at a rusty spoon called the Dreadnaught.  The rest, as they say, is history.  Actually, it’s the next two hundred and fifty pages of this three hundred page book. 

So what’s the rest of it?  Well, a lot of it has to do with Bourdain’s addictions to pot, heroin, and a slew of other controlled substances, tales of sexual antics and gratuitous acts of violence, all while travelling through various kitchens up and down the eastern seaboard.  Their are anecdotes of hilarious hijinks and tales of his mentors, interspersed with tips on professional cooking and advice to never join the restaurant industry. 

Final judgement:  The book is certainly funny and engrossing for anybody who enjoys biographies or food.  Bourdain’s flippant tone and acts of self-deprecation help to lighten what could otherwise be a dark recounting of a life that’s seen some great highs and disappointing lows.  I recommend it for anybody who has enjoyed one of his shows (or never wishes to eat again in a restaurant).

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