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Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen…
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Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker,… (2006)

by Bill Buford

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Showing 1-5 of 67 (next | show all)
Essentially, the story of a journalist of no mean reputation (former editor of Granta and fiction editor of The New Yorker), who in frustration at his ineptness at cooking for dinner parties, decides to apprentice himself to Mario Batali, learning the ropes in his renowned New York restaurant, Babbo.

The title says it all. His culinary education takes him from nasty accidents in the kitchen to learning first-hand the arts of pasta making and butchering in Italy. Much of it focuses on the career of Mario Batali, which is an interesting story in itself, but I much preferred the recounting of Buford’s real life adventures, which are awe-inspiring. Talk about throwing yourself in at the deep end, he literally immerses himself in the world of a professional kitchen (often at the cost of bodily injury) and carries the reader along with him, hoping he won’t kill himself before he feels he’s learnt enough.

There are some amazing insights into the crazy world of celebrity chefs which are fascinating in themselves. But the whole book is written in such an engaging way and with such brilliant depiction of characters, you feel really disappointed to reach the end and have to break acquaintance with all of them. ( )
  Anne_Green | Jul 14, 2014 |
This was a fun book to read. It started out as a biography of Mario Batali by a middle-aged journalist who wormed his way into Mario's kitchen as an intern. But it quickly grew into an exploration of why people chose to cook professionally and why people devote their lives to producing quality food when mass-production has so much more monetary benefits. The author leaves Mario's kitchen to go to Italy to learn about pasta from the masters, then works for a butcher in Italy learning the ins and outs of properly raising and butchering pigs and cattle. Eventually he tries to wrap it all up with a summation of Mario's life, but at that point the book has moved so far away from Mario's story that it hardly seems worth the effort to try to reign it back in. I would've rather had the author cut the Mario stories at the beginning and make it entirely about his personal journey, but I suppose sometimes it's about mass-marketing celebrities to get to the point where you can deliver your quality product. ( )
  sbloom42 | May 21, 2014 |
What a wonderful book! Buford decides to become more acquainted with food by serving as an unpaid apprentice in one of Mario Batali's kitchens. The detail of the food, the personalities, and the daily drama of the restaurant kitchen was facinating. Buford then follows his cooking heart to Italy, where he continues his apprenticeship in a small Italian family restaurant, then in an Italian butcher. Other than wondering why his wife stuck with him through this soujourn (I suspect independent wealth), the food takes the center stage. Again and again, the descriptions are vivid and my understanding of food increased dramatically. You don't have to be a foodie to enjoy this book, but any foodie should take the time to read it.

Bookcrossing: http://www.bookcrossing.com/journal/6392215/ ( )
  wareagle78 | Jan 23, 2014 |
I wanted to like this book but eventually I had to stop wasting time on it and move on. The threads of the narrative were not woven together in any way that made sense. There was a lot of skipping around during the timeframe of the novel with no explanation for the sequence of things. The author is working at Babbo in NYC, then in Italy, then maybe a second stint at the restaurant? And perhaps a second or third trip to Italy? Culinary history is mixed in and while interesting didn't fit well.
Honestly I think the author had three books here that he crammed into one, and rather sloppily in my opinion. Don't get me wrong, the information was interesting if you like culinary information, it just needed to be more clear and more concise. ( )
  Rainviolet | Jan 10, 2014 |
I appreciate Bill Buford's cojones far more than, say, Anthony Bourdain's; at least the former allows a thread of humility to run through his account of learning an entirely unfamiliar trade. Heat also features, also, perhaps inadvertently, more flattering tableaux of kitchen work than the macho posturing of books by born-to-this chefs and cooks seem to have created thus far. Very little of this book's respectfulness is grudging. ( )
  amelish | Sep 12, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bill Bufordprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Kramer, MichaelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Jessica ... che move il sole e l'altre stelle.
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The first glimpse I had of what Mario Batali's friends had described to me as the "myth of Mario" was on a cold Saturday night in January 2002, when I invited him to a birthday dinner.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 022407184X, Hardcover)

Bill Buford's funny and engaging book Heat offers readers a rare glimpse behind the scenes in Mario Batali's kitchen. Who better to review the book for Amazon.com, than Anthony Bourdain, the man who first introduced readers to the wide array of lusty and colorful characters in the restaurant business? We asked Anthony Bourdain to read Heat and give us his take. We loved it. So did he. Check out his review below. --Daphne Durham Guest Reviewer: Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain is host of the Discovery Channel's No Reservations, executive chef at Les Halles in Manhattan, and author of the bestselling and groundbreaking Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook, A Cook's Tour, Bone in the Throat, and many others. His latest book, The Nasty Bits will be released on May 16, 2006.

Heat is a remarkable work on a number of fronts--and for a number of reasons. First, watching the author, an untrained, inexperienced and middle-aged desk jockey slowly transform into not just a useful line cook--but an extraordinarily knowledgable one is pure pleasure. That he chooses to do so primarily in the notoriously difficult, cramped kitchens of New York's three star Babbo provides further sado-masochistic fun. Buford not only accurately and hilariously describes the painfully acquired techniques of the professional cook (and his own humiations), but chronicles as well the mental changes--the "kitchen awareness" and peculiar world view necessary to the kitchen dweller. By end of book, he's even talking like a line cook.

Secondly, the book is a long overdue portrait of the real Mario Batali and of the real Marco Pierre White--two complicated and brilliant chefs whose coverage in the press--while appropriately fawning--has never described them in their fully debauched, delightful glory. Buford has--for the first time--managed to explain White's peculiar--almost freakish brilliance--while humanizing a man known for terrorizing cooks, customers (and Batali). As for Mario--he is finally revealed for the Falstaffian, larger than life, mercurial, frighteningly intelligent chef/enterpreneur he really is. No small accomplishment. Other cooks, chefs, butchers, artisans and restaurant lifers are described with similar insight.

Thirdly, Heat reveals a dead-on understanding--rare among non-chef writers--of the pleasures of "making" food; the real human cost, the real requirements and the real adrenelin-rush-inducing pleasures of cranking out hundreds of high quality meals. One is left with a truly unique appreciation of not only what is truly good about food--but as importantly, who cooks--and why. I can't think of another book which takes such an unsparing, uncompromising and ultimately thrilling look at the quest for culinary excellence. Heat brims with fascinating observations on cooking, incredible characters, useful discourse and argument-ending arcania. I read my copy and immediately started reading it again. It's going right in between Orwell's Down and Out in Paris and London and Zola's The Belly of Paris on my bookshelf. --Anthony Bourdain


(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:56:19 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Writer Buford's memoir of his headlong plunge into the life of a professional cook. Expanding on his award-winning New Yorker article, Buford gives us a chronicle of his experience as "slave" to Mario Batali in the kitchen of Batali's three-star New York restaurant, Babbo. He describes three frenetic years of trials and errors, disappointments and triumphs, as he worked his way up the Babbo ladder from "kitchen bitch" to line cook, his relationship with the larger-than-life Batali, whose story he learns as their friendship grows through (and sometimes despite) kitchen encounters and after-work all-nighters, and his immersion in the arts of butchery in Northern Italy, of preparing game in London, and making handmade pasta at an Italian hillside trattoria.--From publisher description.… (more)

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