Sunday, February 26, 2012

CBR IV # 10 - Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

I have to admit that all I know about cooking (which is admittedly not much), I learned from Top Chef. I also have to admit that Top Chef is where I first saw Anthony Bourdain when he guest judged that one season. I got to know him a little better when I watched the Philippines edition of No Reservations, where he came to our tiny island in the middle of the archipelago and ate "THE BEST PIG EVER!" I'm not sure what my point is, but I think its that I didn't really know that much about him except for a few episodes on TV. I knew he was a chef and that's about it.

Kitchen Confidential is about Bourdain's love affair with the restaurant kitchen. Sure, its a dysfuntional, co-dependent love affair, but he loves it. He tells of how he first experienced food and how he fell into cooking. He is very open with the horrible stuff that they do at restaurants, as well as the horrible stuff that he did. His addictions and his rise and fall and rise again in the restaurant industry.

You learn a lot in the book. There are a lot of tips about eating out and cooking in and it gives you a view of how it might work at the back of the kitchen. It really grossed me out a little bit, to be honest. All that talk of sweat and drugs and skin diseases. Ugh. It presents the kitchen staff as a group of misfits and outcasts. Of course, it would be a bit of a mistake, I think to believe that all kitchens are like Bourdain's. Even he acknowledges at the end that he is presenting the kitchen as he knows it. There might be other kinds of experiences in other restaurants. But one thing is for sure. Cooking is NOT for the weak.

But aside from the actual content of the book, it was a good read. Bourdain's voice is funny and acerbic. Sarcastic and self-depreciating. He knows his good and bad sides and isn't afraid to present all of it. He is quite a personality. Now please come back to Cebu so we can eat delicious pig and drink some San Miguel Beer.

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