Must-Reads from Anthony Bourdain
Anthony Bourdain (Ecco Press, 2001)
In 2001, Anthony Bourdain, executive chef
of the Les
Halles brasserie in New York City, hit the publishing
world by storm with his best-selling book Kitchen
Confidential. For those who missed out, this is
still a classic memoir/survival manual for restaurant
diners and a must-read for anyone who has ever worked
in or eaten at a restaurant.
the book project started as an unsolicited article
submission to The New Yorker. Once asked to
write a book based on the piece, Bourdain hit full
stride. He takes the reader from his first experience
with cold soup (vichyssoise) during a family trip
to France as a small boy through his many experiences
in the professional restaurant business.
book's subtitle aptly captures the substance of the
narrative: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly.
With harsh yet descriptive language and a hilarious,
acerbic tone, he exposes what really goes on behind
the scenes at top restaurantseverything from
sex to drugs to eye-opening tales of food preparation
and kitchen pranks. He answers questions like why
one shouldn't order fish on Mondays or steak well
done. All of this is done while he consistently displays
and expounds upon a sincere passion for good food.
the stories, reminisces, gossip and warnings, the
reader also follows Bourdain's growth as a chef, a
restaurant professional and an individual. This personal
side to the book works with the rough and shocking
side to result in an enjoyable read for just about
A Cook's Tour
(Ecco Press, 2002)
you're looking for more of Bourdain's entertaining
writing, join him on his adventures around the world
to find the perfect meal in A Cook's Tour,
released just last year.
basically just took the best-selling style of Kitchen
Confidential and added travel. He avoids the big
four (France, Italy, China, India) to search for his
presumably unattainable perfect experience on roads
less traveled, and he seems to find interesting meals
just about everywhere he goes: the still-beating heart
of a cobra in Saigon, deep-fried Mars bars in London,
lamb testicles in Morocco, and the list goes on.
like that describing a pig slaughter in Portugal may
be difficult to stomach for some, but Bourdain is
simply describing a reality as seen through the eyes
of an American very much off the beaten path.
brought along a camera crew, so a complementary weekly
television series, aptly named A Cook's Tour,
can currently be viewed on the Food Network.
(Updated: 09/26/08 LH)