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Ratings and reviews for Kitchen Confidential Updated Edition: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly (P.S.)

Ratings and reviews for Kitchen Confidential Updated Edition: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly (P.S.)
4.2
based on 772 rating(s)
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Price: $16.99 $6.41 (62% off)
Trade In Value: $0.94
Author(s): Anthony Bourdain
Release Date: 1/9/2007
Binding: Paperback
Number of Pages: 312
Studio: ECCO
Manufacturer: ECCO
Dewey Decimal Number: 641.5092
Product Group: Book
Edition: Updated
Sales Rank: 1
Description:

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—now with all-new, never-before-published material.

ISBN: 0060899220
UPC: 201560899220

Ratings
Reviews 1 to 10 of 772
Pageof 78
amazon logo Uneven, unedited, uncouth --undercooked
As a (retired) chef I am not shocked nor scandalized as so manyreviewers apparently are about the inner workings of professionalkitchens. If that is why you want to read the book, you will receive a little titillation and learn that, yes, some kitchens are dirty and that, yes, some restaurants sell bad food at high prices to people who do not know any better. This book is, however, not particularly well-written nor well organized. The too few chapters which actually deal with cooking and behind the scene restaurant matters are fine, if a bit overwraught with expletives and sexual themes. There are a few words on knives and kitchen equipment and what it can be like cooking three hundred meals a night. The remainder - which unfortunately for me felt like the bulk - of the book concerns the author's involvement with drugs and a few sketches of people he worked with, some anonymously described.

Mr. Bourdain may be a fine chef. He could have benefited from an editor who could help him tell his tale, and perhaps also caught the several typos sprinkled throughout the text.

183 of 280 people found this review helpful.
amazon logo I laughed so hard, I forgot (on purpose) to eat! Yes! Yuk!
Oh, you are really going to enjoy this book...while you're reading it, that is. Then afterwards you'll be torn between the memories of the hilarious antics Bourdain describes in his book...and memories of the disgusting things that go on every day in restaurant kitchens. Believe it or not, it IS worth reading! (And take it from a former restaurant manager, it is, unfortuately, true - the after-hours shenanigans, especially!)

Bourdain has put together a truly gonzo collection of restaurant tales that aren't all depraved...but, like his restaurateur/chef subjects, most of them are! Kudos to him for a book that is this honest while being this hysterical. If you have the, um, stomach for it, this is a book you'll remember fondly. Well worth digesting!

204 of 226 people found this review helpful.
amazon logo Telling It Like It Is
In this book, Anthony Bourdain, executive chef at New York's Brasserie Les Halles, takes us on a wild ride through that city's food supply industry that includes surprises such as heavy drinking, drugs, debauchery, Mafiosi and assorted seedy personalities.

It is clear that Bourdain enjoys a true passion for both food and cooking, a passion he inherited from the French side of his family. He tells us he decided to become a chef during a trip to southwestern France when he was only ten years of age and it is a decision he stuck to, graduating from the Culinary Institute of America.

Kitchen Confidential is a surprisingly well-written account of what life is really like in the commercial kitchens of the United States; "the dark recesses of the restaurant underbelly." In describing these dark recesses, Bourdain refreshingly casts as many stones at himself as he does at others. In fact, he is brutally honest. There is nothing as tiresome as a "tell-all" book in which the author relentlessly paints himself as the unwitting victim. Bourdain, to his enormous credit, avoids this trap. Maybe he writes so convincingly about drugs and alcohol because drugs and alcohol have run their course through his veins as well as those of others.

The rather raunchy "pirate ship" stories contained in this fascinating but testosterone-rich book help to bring it vividly to life and add tremendous credibility. The book does tend to discourage any would-be female chefs who might read it, but that's not Bourdain's fault; he is simply telling it like it is and telling it hilariously as well.

In an entire chapter devoted to one of the lively and crude characters that populate this book, Bourdain describes a man named Adam: "Adam Real-Last-Name-Unknown, the psychotic bread-baker, alone in his small, filthy Upper West Side apartment, his eyes two different sizes after a 36-hour coke and liquor jag, white crust accumulated at the corners of his mouth, a two-day growh of whiskers--standing there in a shirt and no pants among the porno mags, the empty Chinese takeout containers, as the Spice channel flickers silently on the TV, throwing blue light on a can of Dinty Moore beef stew by an unmade bed." Apparently Bourdain made just as many mistakes at the beginning of his career as did Adam, but the book however, doesn't always paint and bleak picture.

Another chapter entitled "The Life of Bryan," talks about renowned chef Scott Bryan, a man, who, according to Bourdain, made all the right decisions. Bourdain describes Bryan's shining, immaculate kitchen, his well-organized and efficient staff. It's respectful homage, but somehow, we feel that Bourdain, himself, will never be quite as organized as is Bryan, for Bourdain is just too much of the rebel, the original, the maverick.

Kitchen Confidential can be informative as well as wickedly funny. Bourdain is hilarious as he tells us what to order in restaurants and when. For instance, we learn never to eat fish on Mondays, to avoid Sunday brunches and never to order any sort of meat well-done. And, if we ever see a sign that says, "Discount Sushi," we will, if we are smart, run the other way as fast as we possibly can.

Kitchen Confidential isn't undying literature but it's so funny and so well-written that no one should care. It made me hungry for Bourdain's black sea bass crusted in sel de Bretagne with frites. It also made me order his novel, Bone in the Throat. If it is only half as funny and wickedly well-written as is Kitchen Confidential it will certainly be a treat.

161 of 169 people found this review helpful.
amazon logo Far below expectations.
I picked up a copy Kitchen Confidential after reading several rave reviews from both the press and fellow readers. I was fortunate enough to have been raised in the restaurant business--my family owns a very successful steakhouse (average of about 600 meals on a Saturday night) in the midwest. I was somewhat familiar with Bourdain from FoodTV and was very excited to read about his stories as being a chef in NYC. Business is obviously a lot different between New York and rural America and I had often wondered what working in a restaurant with top notch famous chefs would be like. I'm also somewhat smitten with Rocco DiSpirito so I was excited to read about the "rockstar" life Bourdain cited in a press release about his book.

The first few chapters described his childhood and early years of working in the food industry. I'll admit they were rather entertaining. Irritation and boredom kicked in soon after. Bourdain's biggest problem is his lack of writing talent. The poor grammar, lack of flow, lack of focus, and incredibly over use of cliches were rather endearing for the first 30 or 40 pages. Knowing that he is a chef by profession, not a writer, his lack of honed writing skill was different. Upon getting deepr in the text, however, it became boring, redundant, irritating, and just down right annoying. What bothered me most was the lack of focus. For several chapters he bounced around a lot when describing different periods of his life and the jobs he was working. It was incredibly confusing to keep track of his age, where he worked, what he did. What Bourdain really needs a good editor to help him get his thoughts together.

The actual content was lacking as well. I didn't find anything he wrote about scandalous, let alone make me never want to set foot in a restaurant again. The life he tried to describe mentions that he used drugs, but he didn't really give the reader any type of understanding as to how it affected him, or who he met, what he did, or any other crazy stories that makes him stand out from any other person in the 80s or 90s hooked on heroine or coke. Nothing he presented made me think of anything close to the life of a crazy rockstar. I'd imagine he did experience those things, he just doesn't actually tell you about them. There are very few comments referring to things that would make you think twice about eatting at a restaurant, and all of these are common sense when you actually think about them.

I'd have a hard time recommending that people should waste their time by reading this book. The only exception I can think of are people who are aspiring to be a professional chef. Bourdain does do a good job of how physically, mentally, personally, and emotionally draining it is to be a chef.

In summary, stay away from this book if you are looking for entertainment, tips on what to eat a restaurant, or any type of dirty fun. It's not here. But, if you are considering to be a chef in a major city make sure you pick this up to make sure this is what you want to do.
53 of 117 people found this review helpful.
amazon logo Is it so bad to be an arrogant SOB?
I don't think you're going to regret reading this book. But when you're done, you might find yourself wondering what exactly you just read. Just be aware beforehand that it's much more about the author than it is about cooking or restaurants.

I was surprised at the incredible coarseness of the book, but I thought, OK, that's real life in the restaurant world, if you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen so to speak. But then towards the end he shows you that actually that's NOT how it is all through the restaurant world. Forget the last couple hundred pages.

So maybe he's just a jerk. Do I feel good about giving my money away to some jerk? But then again, he'll gladly TELL you he's a jerk. That's almost his point. Isn't the view of a crude, wild, hedonistic lifestyle that most of us would never live but still find fascinating why we buy these memoirs in the first place?

I found myself saying, "Wow, what an SOB (turn page) I can't stand this jerk (turn page)..." And that's not necessarily a bad thing, although it did leave me wondering whether I could really say I "liked" the book. What bothered me more was the poor structure of the book and the almost total lack of editing. Really weird things, like commas constantly popped up at random in the middle of, sentences. Like that. It grew more than a little annoying. And it was almost the last chapter before he actually defined all the cooking terms and the slang he had been using for hundreds of pages. People showed up whose significance he didn't explain until a number of chapters later.

So he's annoying, in many ways the book is annoying, but it's a fun and wild ride that will definitely give you something to talk about with your friends.

90 of 103 people found this review helpful.
amazon logo Macho, macho chef
This is a fascinating, alternately hilarious and appalling account of one chef's career in the restaurant buisness. Bourdain, now the Executive Chef at Les Halles in New York, regales the reader with a behind-the-scenes look at the kitchens of "gourmet" restaurants he has worked and the characters he has known. To call his account (and his fellow workers) "colorful" is an understatement.

There is much to like in this book. Occasional insights into why ordering fish on Monday is not such a good idea (it's left over from Thursday's delivery) and the logistics of running a major restaurant are fascinating. Also, the anecdotes about management style and successful vs. unsuccessful restaurants make for interesting reading. Bourdain demolishes the mystique of cooking as an art to be mastered by only a few. From his perspective, cooking is a craft that can be learned through grit, endurance, and hard knocks. As he points out, the mainstays of his and many other kitchens are immigrants from Ecuador, Mexico, Bengal and elsewhere who are taught how to recreate consistently and under pressure dishes as directed by the chef. Restaurant work is not easy, and only the strong survive. It's a war out there--and the kitchen is the combat zone.

That said, "Kitchen Confidential" is an uneven book that should have had a good editing. The individual chapters have the feel of freestanding pieces, and some of their content is repetitious. Much of the jargon and some of the details of how a kitchen is organized aren't explained until late in the book, even though he's been referring to them from the beginning.. By the time he finally does explain the slang and the esoteric details, the astute reader has already figured it out.

My major complaint about the book, however, is that the book seems to be as much about the author and his excesses as about the places he's worked. Bourdain was a heavy-duty heroin addict and coke sniffer during the 70s and 80s, and he conjures up the craziness of the period with zest. He's always worked in kitchens where the culture was testosterone-drenched and the language beyond macho. Although I didn't find the coarseness particularly shocking considering the primarily male crew and the amount of pressure under which they work, it did get a little wearisome after awhile. Towards the end of the book, Bourdain gives examples of chefs and kitchens with entirely different ways of doing things. As he himself admits, his testosterone-drenched kitchens may be as much an offshoot of his own personality and experiences as restaurant culture itself. In the end, Bourdain comes across as a kind of kooky romantic--the kitchen staff is his family, albeit a dysfunctional one, and he loves their quirks and idiosyncrasies, even (and maybe especially) when they veer off into the criminal.

Overall, I can't say I disliked this book--in fact I enjoyed parts of it immensely--but Bourdain's "sex, drugs, and rock and roll" attitude began to lose its appeal toward the end. This is quick, revealing and at times funny read, but take it with a grain of salt (fleur de sel of course). 3.75 stars.
93 of 100 people found this review helpful.
amazon logo Big Ego; Small Accomplishments Spewed Out by a Foul Mouth
As a former cook and restaurant worker, I thought it might be interesting to read about the experiences of someone who's still working in the field. I've moved on to journalism, government, and the law, but I look back fondly on the energy, friendships, and fun of restaurant work. Anthony Bourdain, however, gives a bad name to both writing and cooking. He is a boring story teller with a foul mouth. He is unrelentingly crude and hyperbolic. He's such a swaggering show-off that it feels as if you can't trust a word he says. Although I got all the way through the book, I felt as if I needed a shower after reading this guy's ego-driven "confidences". Do yourself a favor and don't even think about buying this book, written by a second-tier cook, a third-rate writer, and a fourth-rate mind.
36 of 84 people found this review helpful.
amazon logo NOT TO MY TASTE
For someone in a career that caters to the public, Chef Bourdain certainly seems to dislike a lot of people. He ridicules many of his customers, his employers and his fellow chefs.

I got tired of his macho-strutting; his swearing; his constant references to drugs and sex.

Yes, I learned some things about what goes on behind the scenes in some of the NY restaurants, but it wasn't worth the price of the book.

34 of 75 people found this review helpful.
amazon logo Kitchen Confidential
A self aggrandizing celibration of dysfunctional personal and workplace behavior with little to say about kitchens or cooking and alot to say about the authors supposed coolness. This book is truly a waste of time.
29 of 71 people found this review helpful.
amazon logo Terribly Arrogant
Anthony Bourdain is the annoying guest at a party who bores those willing to listen with the intricacies of his job in unnecessary detail. I was one of those guests willing to listen finishing the entire book deciding it was worhwhile for only one chapter. The chapter to which I am referring, is written behind the wizards curtain. The reader learns why not to order fish on Monday and that the rolls in most restaurants are recycled. These are gross revelations and I am better for knowing them. After this stop which occurs early on in the memoir, the author laborously details his rise to the acme of culinary expression. Some of the accounts are humorous but only in the way one would chuckle at the exploits of fraternity hazing. Snorting lines of cocaine, chain smoking, and mysogyny are funny only in a pitiable sense. These stories may seem like self deprecating apologies but they are not presented with such compunction. The author is proud of his indomitability, his hands scarred with kitchen abuse. He even claims in the last sentence that he wouldn't have missed the experience for the world. The author is certainly proud of his own nastiness and that of his cronies; if others do not understand they can get out of the kitchen. He presents his daily routine as a chef in exacting detail in a chapter titled expectedly enough "A day in the Life..." In this chapter he allows the reader a glimpse in to the draconian requirements of his job implying that it is beyond the scope of normal expereince worthy of publishing and admiration. What is lost on the author is that many jobs are replete with comical characters, unendurable routine, and moments of frenzied activity. I am sure the waiters whom he loathes would have just as interesting a tale to write. However, like the waiters I feel alienated by Anthony Bourdain and prefer to stay out of the kitchen.
17 of 63 people found this review helpful.

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