My Rating of “Kitchen Confidential” by Anthony Bourdain: 8 / 10
The majority of us will only ever see one side of the restaurant business; being the customer. On the other side there are long hours, hard work, drugs, sex, narcissism, bullying, trickery – all the confidential aspects that occur in the kitchen without us ever knowing. Kitchen Confidential exposes these practices and behaviours, providing us the patron visibility into the hospitality industry in a way we haven’t seen before.
This book has been on my list for a while however the catalyst was Bourdain’s unfortunate suicide. Bourdain made a massive name for himself by writing this book. In providing an in-depth insight into the restaurant industry, he was able to propel his career and work beyond the kitchen. Many of the unwritten rules as a chef in a kitchen are exposed in this book. Although I have heard some of these previously, there were many things I just didn’t realise happened in the acquisition, preparation and delivery of food to my plate.
I like Bourdain’s writing style. His stories and examples throughout his career are countless and insightful. The detail and memory were both surprising and entertaining. For example, learning about being careful with non-freshly made hollandaise given bacteria and that cooks generally hate brunch. Furthermore that bathrooms are much easier to clean than kitchens so be careful if the bathroom isn’t clean. The reader will learn this and more when reading Kitchen Confidential. I thoroughly recommend this book!
Three key takeaways from the book:
- Chefs see chicken as a menu item for patrons the don’t know what they want to eat. Interestingly enough chicken is the last thing I order in a restaurant as it can easily be over cooked and lackluster.
- Your body is not a temple, it is an amusement park. Interesting coming from Bourdain given his life as a chef. I think my body is a bit of both (in moderation).
- Watch out for Sunday and Monday menus. One should avoid ordering specials or fish on these days. For specials they are the older items that the restaurant is trying to get rid of. Similarly with fish, it is old stock and not fresh.