Review: Kitchen Confidential, by Anthony Bourdain

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary UnderbellyKitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly by Anthony Bourdain
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Once again I find myself flying in the face of popular sentiment. Somehow I feel I should have gone with public acceptance of Bourdain’s very raw, even visceral, autobiographical journey as a chef, and as an individual.

His culinary autobiography is well-written, much to the credit of his ghost writer, and so I cannot give any honest evaluation of his skill as a writer.

What he relates is another matter. His angry, bad-boy delivery has more to do with his own dissolute and reckless lifestyle than it does about any culinary achievement. Could he make his way around the professional kitchen? Apparently he could. Did he leave a legacy? Indeed he did, by way of many supportive and charitable acts. However, any of the considerable good he fostered throughout his life is not reflected in in this particular publication. Which is unfortunate.

The take-away (forgive the pun) from this book? Fuck everything because tomorrow doesn’t matter. What matters is being the Mad Max hero, punching as much braggadocio and sensation as possible into each moment. Perhaps, in a way, what he was really saying was that from puberty to his suicide at the age of 61, he was chasing death. And that’s a very sad thing, because in his pursuit of interesting food from the common people of the world, he illuminated the importance of the fundamental act of food preparation as a social construct.

Should you read this book? Probably. Especially if you had been a fan of his work. It is a naked insight.

View all my reviews