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Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly (2000)

by Anthony Bourdain

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8,544235698 (3.92)230
A New York City chef who is also a novelist recounts his experiences in the restaurant business, and exposes abuses of power, sexual promiscuity, drug use, and other secrets of life behind kitchen doors.
  1. 111
    Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany by Bill Buford (Talbin)
  2. 61
    The Man Who Ate Everything by Jeffrey Steingarten (Ronoc)
  3. 40
    Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook by Anthony Bourdain (thebookpile)
  4. 51
    "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!": Adventures of a Curious Character by Richard Feynman (noise)
    noise: Both Tony Bourdain and Richard Feynman have (had) an incredible knack for writing highly informative and page turning memoirs. If you've read one but not the other, you're in for a treat.
  5. 40
    Spiced: A Pastry Chef's True Stories of Trials by Fire, After-Hours Exploits, and What Really Goes on in the Kitchen by Dalia Jurgensen (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: These two memoirs both provide behind-the-scenes accounts of life in New York City restaurant kitchens. Though Kitchen Confidential uses more explicit language, both represent a chef's reality: rampant sexism, high staff turnover, and the wild lives of kitchen staff.… (more)
  6. 40
    No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach by Anthony Bourdain (John_Vaughan)
  7. 30
    Blood, Bones, and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef by Gabrielle Hamilton (MyriadBooks)
  8. 20
    Life, on the Line: A Chef's Story of Chasing Greatness, Facing Death, and Redefining the Way We Eat by Grant Achatz (Anonymous user)
    Anonymous user: Both are very well organized, easy (and enjoyable) to read from cover to cover.
  9. 31
    Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell (sbuehrle)
  10. 20
    Cooking Dirty: A Story of Life, Sex, Love and Death in the Kitchen by Jason Sheehan (erickandow)
  11. 20
    Don't Try This At Home: Culinary Catastrophes from the World's Greatest Cooks and Chefs by Kimberly Witherspoon (caseydurfee)
  12. 21
    Liquor by Poppy Z. Brite (sbuehrle)
    sbuehrle: Brite's book about two young chefs draws from Bourdain's tell-all with a fictional twist.
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» See also 230 mentions

English (231)  Finnish (2)  Norwegian (1)  Spanish (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (236)
Showing 1-5 of 231 (next | show all)
stupendous! K 0 (really?) publ 2000; read 2019
  18cran | May 29, 2021 |
Anthony Bourdain is someone I could watch do anything. He was so entertaining and captivating that it was hard to turn away. Kitchen Confidential is no different, even if the subject is the dark underbelly of being a chef. ( )
  adamfortuna | May 28, 2021 |
At first I struggled with the format of this memoir until I realized it was basically just a collection of articles written at various times for various publications. So that’s probably why it felt choppy and a little repetitive, especially in Bourdain’s many, many anecdotes about toxic kitchen culture. As I read, I wondered if that culture might have contributed to the way his life ended. I’ve had this on my TBR list for a good number of years and honestly wish I’d read it before his death, maybe then I could have seen it as the homage to the culinary arts it’s clearly meant to be. Or maybe the braggadocio and gonzo-style writing would have come across as over done either way. In any case, it's still a bold and remarkable look into a demanding profession by someone who lived their life on their own terms. RIP Chef ( )
  wandaly | May 16, 2021 |
The New Yorker article "Don't Eat Before Reading This" that this book was based on turned 20 in April 2019, so it's interesting to read the book only now, yet still be able to see exactly why this guy became so famous. Food content is everywhere now - personal blogs, Yelp reviews, and impossibly lengthy SEO-optimized recipes for grilled cheese sandwiches - so it's hard to remember what it was like before the internet turned writing itself into fast food, but Bourdain's irreverent peek behind the kitchen curtains was genuinely novel at the time. Even now his writing is frequently spectacular: his keen and gossipy characterization, amusing but still affecting storytelling, and wry, appreciative voice all give a side of the restaurant industry that was not really seen 20 years ago and is still often underappreciated all the glamour and human interest that he would later make a career out of exposing viewers to on TV. It's a mix of memoir, philosophizing, career retrospective, apologia, and plain old complaining that he uses to make being a chef seem heroic and pathetic at a stroke, writing from the perspective of a man who has experienced the closely-linked extremes of crippling failure and stunning success, showing why restauranteur is such a fascinating profession in the aggregate yet any given chef is not to be trusted one bit.

I remember reading once that to get truly famous you have to excel at at least two different things and corner the market on the intersection of your talents. It seems like most chefs are not also good writers, let alone also good TV personalities, and likewise very few television hosts or authors are classically trained French chefs (as a sidenote, a lot of the French techniques and items he discusses are totally alien to me, although to be fair I'm not the kind of person who's making reservations at Dorsia - I mean Les Halles - very often). While I'll never have the opportunity to eat a meal that Bourdain cooked, if it was anything like his writing it would have been a real treat. He's good at making you think about your own food experiences: the opening chapter contains such a lovingly detailed description of learning to love oysters as a child on vacation in France that you can't help but think about great meals you've had, and right up until the end of the book he's raving about sushi he once had in a way that has actually changed how I view what I'm eating.

Sometimes his rule-breaking renegade shtick wears a bit thin over the course of the book - he really wants you to know that he's done a lot of drugs and seen a lot of misbehavior and lived a wild and crazy life, etc - but I don't begrudge him for getting as much mileage as he can out of his life story, and honestly, a lot of it is simple jealousy. The exact same questions about food authenticity apply to chef authenticity, and the same answer - just relax and enjoy what you're served - also applies. You can go a long way in America by playing the bad boy with a hidden soft side, and Bourdain's voice is just the perfect blend of wasn't-I-a-scoundrel and sincere passion for his craft, neatly balancing his (very) lengthy assurances about how much he loves dick jokes with more humanizing moments like his unashamed love letter to the bread one of his cooks makes. And his closing humility, where he reveals that everything he's said was just his own personal opinion, and just like there's no one right way to live there's no one right way to run a restaurant, cements him as surely one of the coolest people to evangelize the art of appreciating food. RIP. ( )
  aaronarnold | May 11, 2021 |
Very good. Very bittersweet to listen to Anthony Bourdain read his autobiography, knowing that he is dead. ( )
  A2Seamster | Apr 9, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 231 (next | show all)
This is one bitter, nasty, searing, hard-to-swallow piece of work. But if you can choke the thing down, youll (sic) probably wake up grinning in the middle of the night. Bourdain is a force of unruly nature, a lifelong misanthrope and currently the executive chef at the Brasserie Les Halles, whose clientele, now that this book is out, must be accounted among the more courageous diners in New York.
 

» Add other authors (18 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Anthony Bourdainprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bilardello, RobinCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Winston,Courtney GrantCover photo [c]secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Don't get me wrong: I love the restaurant business.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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A New York City chef who is also a novelist recounts his experiences in the restaurant business, and exposes abuses of power, sexual promiscuity, drug use, and other secrets of life behind kitchen doors.

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