Review of Anthony Bourdain’s ‘Kitchen Confidential’. Billed as Elizabeth David as done by Quentin Tarantino, but I have never read Elizabeth David. I will. This was a great read. Bourdain is honest about the macho ethic of most kitchens and the helter-skelter environment of serving hundreds of meals in a single setting. Fueled by testoterone, cocaine and booze, Bourdain pin-balls through life in Manhattan, and takes the reader along for the ride.
There is a touch of pathos reading ‘Kitchen Confidential’ in 2022, as the reader knows that Bourdain has since committed suicide. The book doesn’t dwell on his search for meaning, but at the end he admits he is not the sort of stellar chef that his friend Scott Bryan becomes, and this reader sensed a bit of regret. He did become a great TV host on CNN: Parts Unknown.
There is a nice light voice in Kitchen Confidential. Reading a book is like spending a few hours with the author, and I wish I could spend some time with him. This book and reruns of his television shows is a good second best.
Should I have something deeper to say? The book covered a lot of drug use, but in a way that seemed natural in that environment. I contrast it to the drug use in Kim Stanley’s ‘High Sierra’, which seemed to interrupt the story, and just felt out of place. But a person can’t help thinking that all of that drug use took a toll. To see it celebrated as part of the milieu feels off. Writers should be clear eyed observers, and for the most part I think Bourdain is. Highly recommended.
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ISBN 978 0 7475 5355 7
July 20, 2022