Kitchen Confidential: Insider's Edition

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Kitchen Confidential: Insider's Edition

Kitchen Confidential: Insider's Edition

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And his TV shows demonstrate there was more to him than belligerence - unlike, for example, the one-note Gordon Ramsay. The other day I saw yet again that question "which (dead) famous people would you most like to have dinner with?" Based on my experience of meeting a somewhat-famous person I admired (live, obviously), I'd say that with some common answers (especially renowned wits) you risk barely being able to keep up with them and feeling a little embarrassed, or like a mere audience. However, Bourdain - as well as being someone who'd choose, or cook, amazing food - appears to have been good conversationally with different types of people, and whilst intelligent and well-read, was not intimidatingly so like a Wilde or an Einstein.

My chef friends in New York would have gouged out an eye or given up five years of their lives for the meal I was about to have... Each time the chef put another item down in front of us, I detected almost a dare, as if he didn't expect us to like what he was giving us, as if any time now he'd find something too much for our barbarian palates and crude, unsophisticated palates. Bourdain enters a lengthy period of unemployment, as his reputation and the mistakes he makes in interviews leave him unemployable. Pino Luongo, the owner of La Mardi, gives Bourdain a break, offering him the role of executive chef at another of his restaurants. Although Bourdain eventually leaves under a cloud, his career has been re-established.

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Reading this after Bourdain committed suicide is a bit rough, because while he certainly had a tendency for self-destructive behavior (he mentions excessive drinking and developing a heroin addiction), he also clearly loved to feel alive. How hard it must get for a man who loved life as much as he did to decide it wasn't worth living anymore is beyond what I can imagine, and it makes me incredibly sad to think he took his own life. But even during his so-called "wilderness" years, his love of food led to an atypical perspective on race and kitchen people, his tribe. In a professional kitchen, we sauté in a mixture of butter and oil for that nice brown, caramelised colour, and we finish nearly every sauce with it (we call this monter au beurre); that's why my sauce tastes creamier and mellower than yours. Margarine? That's not food. I Can't Believe It's Not Butter? I can. Whilst reading it nearly four years later, I thought often about articles, particularly from the Guardian, about how restaurant kitchen culture is changing, especially but not only since #metoo ... I'm assuming that, because it's the Guardian, that the change is very patchy indeed and probably with younger teams in urban areas. (Having, before this year, spent so much time at home ill and on the internet, I used to overestimate the impact Very Online social justice culture had in the real world in general, and am now seeing the difference, between internet and reality, especially in middle-aged centre-left people. I'd assume it's no different in kitchens, and change is probably slower if anything.) Saying that, though, Bourdain admits in Kitchen Confidential that not all chef contemporaries of his were as wild and aggressive as his team.

I am ashamed to say I knew very little about Anthony Bourdain before he died. I knew he was a celebrity chef, with a pile of published books, TV shows and a reputation for being abrasive, but not much else. After reading this, I regret not paying more attention when I could, because I found Mr. Bourdain to be an incredibly passionate, well-read, deeply articulate, hysterically funny and brutally honest human being. It is creepy to think I could have crushed on him super hard was he still around?Other parts will disgust you and leave you nauseous. You will never look a restaurant food the same way - and may not want to eat it at all unless you get a good look at the kitchen and the people preparing the food. Some parts of this book talk about fantastic food and will leave you drooling. As a result, you will want to hop the next flight and travel the world visiting as many restaurants and trying as many types of food as you can. I’m good. Im free, as it were, of the complications of normal human entanglements, untormented by the beauty, complexity and challenge of a big magnificent and often painful world.” He sounds pretty much like a conceited, arrogant asshole, even as he's admitting he was a conceited, arrogant, twenty-year-old asshole. In this case, though certainly there is a feel of realism added by listening to him talk, it is far, far too much arrogance for me. I work with that type quite a bit, so I'm not really enjoying it during my free time. I first heard of author, Anthony Bourdain, in a review discussion of his exposé of behind the scenes restaurant life on BBC Radio Four over twenty years ago. Two days later I bought and read Kitchen Confidential, and was totally blown away. I bought copies for family members, bored anyone who'd listen with excerpts and advice from the book, then started on a succession of other cook's tales, but none was as funny, scary, evocative as that by Bourdain. He remained an hero throughout the years to come. His recent, sad departure from this world prompted me to read the book again but this time literally in his own voice as he is also the narrator. And if I thought it breathtaking before, well, he really has to be heard to be believed.

Reading this only now, in 2021, you could say I missed that gourmet meal when it was piping hot. The timing turns out perfect for that documentary that just came out, however, and I’ll try to watch Road Runner within the next few days. This wasn’t planned, believe it or not. One thing can be presumed from that, of all relationships in life, the relationship he had with food was one of the most important, if not the most important relationship he had. While I love to be in the kitchen and think of myself as a decent cook, I still consider what goes on behind closed doors in a restaurant to be magical. After falling in love with Bourdain as a television personality, I thought I would try to deepen my connection with my burgeoning passion in the kitchen by listening to his memoir. I always loved Anthony Bourdain for his ability to "take off the gloves" when speaking about some of the industry’s best kept secrets. I honestly don’t think I would have the courage to push myself in the kitchen if it wasn’t for his sarcastic yet encouraging voice pushing me along. With his signature dry sense of humor and absolute refusal to muzzle himself, Kitchen Confidential is Bourdain's memoir that offers a deep look at the behind-the-scenes of restaurant kitchens. But two other things stood out to me in late Bourdains’s professional memoir. The first thing is his love of food, and the specific relationship he developed with food early in his childhood. The second thing is the frightening descriptions of his mental state, which I feel were largely overlooked as people were distracted with lushness and brilliant humor with which he described a world of restaurants. Having in mind Bourdain’s death from suicide in 2018, I can presume that he did not receive the adequate help that he desperately need, which is evident in his memoir written almost a decade before the tragic death.Over Christmas, while visiting and bonding my foodie brother in Arkansas, he introduces me to Parts Unknown on CNN. I am hooked. I love Bourdain. I'm addicted to the show. It mixes things that mix well: my love for travel, my love for food, my love for a damn good story with interesting characters. So, I figure, I might need to actually read his book. Yeah this one. The one that put him on the map. The one that turned him from an executive chef with personality to THE chef with personality. I became acquainted with Anthony Bourdain - brash, profane, yet witty - through his food porn shows on the Travel Channel. As I listened to Bourdain's narration of Kitchen Confidential, his memoir of how food transformed his focus and led to his culinary career, I still miss Tony and am saddened by his suicide. In his food shows, Bourdain's cynicism was readily visible, but it had always been eclipsed by his curious humility and openness to new cultures and their foods.

It was a bit of serendipity to find out that Road Runner, the Bourdain documentary, was just released the other day! I’m pleased to say that the quaint little, locally owned theater nearby did not suffer a pandemic collapse. Its doors are once again open, and I plan to make a trip there very soon to watch this. I might even grab dinner before. But not at one of those chain establishments. Tony wouldn’t approve. The man was really messed up. I am not surprised he committed suicide. It appears he supported the Me Too movement and regretted this horrible memoir before his death, but it's too little too late if you ask me. A lifetime of promoting toxic masculinity cannot be erased with a few words in old age. And this book would serve better as a coaster. Kitchen Confidential also mirrors some of the former newspaper reporter Simon’s uncanny talent for explaining complex hierarchies and ecosystems. Just as Simon laid bare the Byzantine world of Baltimore’s drug trade and the futile attempts at policing it, Bourdain’s rogues’ gallery of investors, managers, food purveyors, inspectors, underworld operators, and rank-and-file staff involved in a typical restaurant venture is an exhilarating window into what civilians might have misconstrued as prosaic. Little wonder that Simon would eventually hire Bourdain to write multiple episodes of his post-Katrina, New Orleans–set HBO drama, Treme.But as a lighthouse in the darkness of melancholy, with so much joy, passion, and pure happiness, Bourdain describes the time he realized he fell hopelessly in love with food - the first time he tried oysters in France as a child - the picture than lingered vividly in his memory.



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