Monday Review: Kitchen Confidential / Anthony Bourdain (2000)
First, you know who Anthony Bourdain is, right?
Oh, you don’t? Uh, well, he’s… Well, I’d go out on a limb and throw him in the “awesome” category, with a little overlap into “cocky asshole” Land.
But I say it with love – and perhaps a bit more love after reading this, his first “tell-all.”
Second, you (probably) needn’t be overly familiar with this chef’s career and assorted media exploits to enjoy this particular read. You also needn’t be a denizen of the Restaurant World (not that I really am, being a strictly Front Of House floozy) to appreciate it (but it helps in a vaguely “I’m in on the joke” kind of way).
Third, I’ll let you borrow my copy if you want.
1. Ol’ Tony is, above all other things, an unapologetic bastard. I mean, he’s a chef…basically. And this is the story of how he became a chef…basically. But the colorful, anecdotal, bits really pull the entire thing together, much like a/an <insert lame culinary reference here>, and it’s what kept me turning the pages.
2. It’s an easy read. If you’ve ever caught an episode of No Reservations (and dear God, I hope you have*), the narrative style of that program is similar to the book.
3. It’s fascinating. Really. The subtitle Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly couldn’t have hit the nail on the head with any more precision. Because, at least the way he tells it, it is pretty damn adventurous. And underbelly-like, but you probably knew that already.
4. It sticks to what’s relevant. He tosses in references to the assorted debauchery of his past, but he doesn’t loll around in it and luxuriate like some James Frey-esque, self-serving bastard. Had there been chapters dedicated to Where His Life Went Wrong or How He Saw The Light And Got His Shit Together, I’d be much less impressed. Scoring smack in some filthy alley is a subtle sub-point in a story he’s trying to tell, rather than being the story itself. He’s Tony the Chef, after all, not Tony the Junkie. That would have been a much less compelling tale, overall.
Despite the fact that I’m no Master of Reviews, I hope this at least piqued your interest.
*Is that too cloying? It’s too cloying, isn’t it? What the fuck does ‘cloying’ even mean? Whatever. I’m going to bed.