Anyone who knows me at all knows how much I love Anthony Bourdain. He’s an intelligent, sarcastic, foodie who, by far, has the best job in existence. Once a line cook, a culinary student, a sous chef, and finally executive chef, he has written many books, and currently hosts his own TV Show on The Travel Channel called No Reservations. Travelling to a different city each week on the Travel Channel’s budget, Bourdain’s job consists of eating the local food, and talking about it on camera. If that isn’t living the dream, I don’t know what is. I am currently seething over the fact that I will be missing him at the Chicago Theater this week, but such is life.
Anyway, a while ago now, I finished reading his first book, “Kitchen Confidential.” Several people had recommended this book to me, and I’ve been meaning to read it for quite a while, however, as I am a member of a book club (literature is another passion of mine), it is hard to find time to read books not in the book club schedule. But read it I did, and, no surprise here, I thoroughly enjoyed it. “Confidential” was written long before his days on the Travel Channel, but upon reading this book, you see the beginnings of Bourdain’s witty and brazen banter on his rise in the culinary world. Though his life as a line cook and chef is not necessarily the life (he provides enough examples of much different, calmer, saner kitchens), you get the feeling that you’d rather have his more colorful, albeit harsher experience in the restaurant industry.
Though he vividly describes in detail the sex, drugs, and yes, even weapons dealing that went down in the kitchens he worked, it’s done in a non-gratuitous manner, which is admirable. Discussing these events without sounding obnoxious, turning me off, or having me cringe in disgust is no mean feat. It’s simply badass. As an avid admirer of all people and things badass, I felt that I understood Bourdain’s decisions (note, I would never some of the decisions he made, I simply understand why he made them). The fact is, he is not an evil guy. He has some loyalty, guts, doesn’t screw anybody over, and talks endearingly about his wife. And of course, I could call “Bullshit!” to all of this, however, he is so candid about the rest of his life in this book, why fake the good stuff? So that suckers like myself would like the bad guy? Could be. I choose to believe that he has these admirable characteristics, so, for me, the promiscuity, the drug addiction, and his shoddy culinary work of some years do not take away from his likeability. As I said before, he is a sarcastic, smart, asshole. And I LOVE it.
I will for sure be dabbling into the rest of Bourdain’s literature (he has written non-fiction as well), and if you are a true foodie and reader like I am, this book will be next on your list.