Holden Caulfield once said, “what really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the author that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours and you could call him up on the phone whenever you felt like it, and shoot the breeze”.
Well, right now after reading “Kitchen Confidential” (Adventures from the Culinary Underbelly), I was hoping I have Anthony Bourdain’s cellphone number just so that I can call him and tell him that his book is bar-none one of the best books that I’ve read so far…and being the nerd that I am, I can assure you that I’ve read quite a lot!
Bourdain doesn’t try to sound like an all-important writer — in fact, his manner of writing is very casual, relaxed and easy. If there’s one word to describe Bourdain’s manner of writing, it is relaxed and painfully honest.
Bourdain details his initial foray into cooking–how, bored with life as a college student in Vassar, he went up North to so-called “P-Town” to begin work as a dishwasher mainly to earn money to support his interest in girls and crack. He outlined his humble beginnings: from washing dishes and to serving as the “Mal Carne” (bad meat) to a rowdy yet awfully talented kitchen group in P-Town whose sheer talent astounded the young Bourdain prompting him to enrol in a culinary course at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA).
There is no shame in detailing his exploits, how as a young chef he immediately went for jobs that will assure him a nice salary, how he bounced from one restaurant to another, serving as an “undertaker” who buried the recesses of failed restaurants. I’ve always been a fan of Bourdain in his TV shows and I am always amazed on the success he enjoys. I always tell myself that I’d like to have Bourdain’s career. And even if I’d rather puke my heart out than eat a quivering snake heart, if Bourdain will ask him to join his team, hell–give me the heart and skin and blood — I’d make snake stew!
But through the book, Bourdain gave his avid fans (and readers) the opportunity to see his humble beginnings. He didn’t start as Bourdain, the rock star chef, he went through a lot of shit and heartbreak and misadventures before he became the ROCK STAR CHEF. What I love about this book is that after reading it, I am tempted to forsake Momo, enroll in a culinary school and begin a miserable yet exciting life as a dishwasher (with plans of moving up the line and be a line cook or patisserie by next year) 🙂 Isn’t that what a good book should give you?