Book Review (Ongoing): What I learned from Anthony Bourdain’s “Kitchen Confidential”

This is an ongoing write-up of my experience of the book, as I read it.

Day 1:

I am 3 pages deep, and I’ve already smiled, giggled, and gasped.

Tony writes how he speaks.

For many of us, we will only ever really know him from the screen, and not from taking the piss, with him and fellow off-duty chefs, whilst in a dark cavernous bar that seems to only be open so late, for chefs looking to unwind.

We’ll never know him as a father or friend, and even as a fine (and award-winning) chef.

However, given the insights his genuine friends have professed to, the screen gave us a generous measure of the truth that was the late, great, and completely crass and jaded Anthony Bourdain.

Image courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter

I, a now posthumous religious fan of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown show and The Layover too, oddly enough only came upon the name the minute reports began that he’d passed. I know some people will claim to have been a fan from way before, but all I’ve ever really known of chefs, is Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson, and Gordon Ramsey – all in the periphery, and never so lastingly impactful to me.

Tony was a jarring and overwhelmingly singular unconventional introduction to rockstar chefdom – very on-brand it would seem, for the man! My curiosity at the eclectic mix of humans who extolled his greatness online after his death was announced, led me to his shows, and quite honestly, I was never the same again.

He has changed my writing – for the better!

He has challenged me to be far more real with my experiences and recounts of travels.

He has fired me up to love other facets of dining, beyond simply what is plated in front of me.

Just the first 3 pages of Kitchen Confidential adequately encapsulates the personality and joie de vivre of the man – its manic, and entertaining, and heartbreakingly real, and it is one of the most perfect introductions to an absolutely imperfect talent who just wanted to go to different meaningful places and memories with the ingredients in front of him – food, a bouquet of good company, inspired locales, or his own thoughts.

I usually finish a book that’s 450 pages or less, in a day – but this time, I won’t.

It’s day one’ish, and I’m not ready for this conversation between myself and Tony’s life, to end.

Food is everything we are. It’s an extension of nationalist feeling, ethnic feeling, your personal history, your province, your region, your tribe, your grandma. It’s inseparable from those from the get-go.

Anthony Bourdain

Day 2:

I’m finding it hard to put the book down, but also to keep paging.

I’m growing ever closer to the end, and I’ve only just begun this Rated-R literary Disneyland of culinary debauchery and mind-boggling autobiographical self-deprecation.

Tony knows how to tell a story – it’s evident in every anecdote that flows from one restaurant-themed chapter to the next.

I’m riveted.

I’m learning to cook without pictures, but Bourdain paints the dishes vividly enough in prose.

Damn! To have known this man, I wonder how it must have been…

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