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Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany

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Bill Buford—author of the highly acclaimed best-selling Among the Thugs—had long thought of himself as a reasonably comfortable cook when in 2002 he finally decided to answer a question that had nagged him every time he prepared a meal: What kind of cook could he be if he worked in a professional kitchen? When the opportunity arose to train in the kitchen of Mario Batali’s Bill Buford—author of the highly acclaimed best-selling Among the Thugs—had long thought of himself as a reasonably comfortable cook when in 2002 he finally decided to answer a question that had nagged him every time he prepared a meal: What kind of cook could he be if he worked in a professional kitchen? When the opportunity arose to train in the kitchen of Mario Batali’s three-star New York restaurant, Babbo, Buford grabbed it. Heat is the chronicle—sharp, funny, wonderfully exuberant—of his time spent as Batali’s “slave” and of his far-flung apprenticeships with culinary masters in Italy. In a fast-paced, candid narrative, Buford describes the frenetic experience of working in Babbo’s kitchen: the trials and errors (and more errors), humiliations and hopes, disappointments and triumphs as he worked his way up the ladder from slave to cook. He talks about his relationships with his kitchen colleagues and with the larger-than-life, hard-living Batali, whose story he learns as their friendship grows through (and sometimes despite) kitchen encounters and after-work all-nighters. Buford takes us to the restaurant in a remote Appennine village where Batali first apprenticed in Italy and where Buford learns the intricacies of handmade pasta . . . the hill town in Chianti where he is tutored in the art of butchery by Italy’s most famous butcher, a man who insists that his meat is an expression of the Italian soul . . . to London, where he is instructed in the preparation of game by Marco Pierre White, one of England’s most celebrated (or perhaps notorious) chefs. And throughout, we follow the thread of Buford’s fascinating reflections on food as a bearer of culture, on the history and development of a few special dishes (Is the shape of tortellini really based on a woman’s navel? And just what is a short rib?), and on the what and why of the foods we eat today. Heat is a marvelous hybrid: a richly evocative memoir of Buford’s kitchen adventure, the story of Batali’s amazing rise to culinary (and extra-culinary) fame, a dazzling behind-the-scenes look at the workings of a famous restaurant, and an illuminating exploration of why food matters. It is a book to delight in—and to savor.


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Bill Buford—author of the highly acclaimed best-selling Among the Thugs—had long thought of himself as a reasonably comfortable cook when in 2002 he finally decided to answer a question that had nagged him every time he prepared a meal: What kind of cook could he be if he worked in a professional kitchen? When the opportunity arose to train in the kitchen of Mario Batali’s Bill Buford—author of the highly acclaimed best-selling Among the Thugs—had long thought of himself as a reasonably comfortable cook when in 2002 he finally decided to answer a question that had nagged him every time he prepared a meal: What kind of cook could he be if he worked in a professional kitchen? When the opportunity arose to train in the kitchen of Mario Batali’s three-star New York restaurant, Babbo, Buford grabbed it. Heat is the chronicle—sharp, funny, wonderfully exuberant—of his time spent as Batali’s “slave” and of his far-flung apprenticeships with culinary masters in Italy. In a fast-paced, candid narrative, Buford describes the frenetic experience of working in Babbo’s kitchen: the trials and errors (and more errors), humiliations and hopes, disappointments and triumphs as he worked his way up the ladder from slave to cook. He talks about his relationships with his kitchen colleagues and with the larger-than-life, hard-living Batali, whose story he learns as their friendship grows through (and sometimes despite) kitchen encounters and after-work all-nighters. Buford takes us to the restaurant in a remote Appennine village where Batali first apprenticed in Italy and where Buford learns the intricacies of handmade pasta . . . the hill town in Chianti where he is tutored in the art of butchery by Italy’s most famous butcher, a man who insists that his meat is an expression of the Italian soul . . . to London, where he is instructed in the preparation of game by Marco Pierre White, one of England’s most celebrated (or perhaps notorious) chefs. And throughout, we follow the thread of Buford’s fascinating reflections on food as a bearer of culture, on the history and development of a few special dishes (Is the shape of tortellini really based on a woman’s navel? And just what is a short rib?), and on the what and why of the foods we eat today. Heat is a marvelous hybrid: a richly evocative memoir of Buford’s kitchen adventure, the story of Batali’s amazing rise to culinary (and extra-culinary) fame, a dazzling behind-the-scenes look at the workings of a famous restaurant, and an illuminating exploration of why food matters. It is a book to delight in—and to savor.

30 review for Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany

  1. 4 out of 5

    Alex Givant

    Excellent book showing what it takes to become a cook. Loved his dedication to get skill from different place (like his multiple trips to the butcher shop in Italy), his humor (getting 225 lbs pig to Manhattan apartment in elevator :-)). I would recommend this book to anybody who wants to understand how much work the good cook put in (long shifts, endless trying to perfect cooking techniques) and what is food about (like his search of who first put eggs into pasta). I loved his idea of small foo Excellent book showing what it takes to become a cook. Loved his dedication to get skill from different place (like his multiple trips to the butcher shop in Italy), his humor (getting 225 lbs pig to Manhattan apartment in elevator :-)). I would recommend this book to anybody who wants to understand how much work the good cook put in (long shifts, endless trying to perfect cooking techniques) and what is food about (like his search of who first put eggs into pasta). I loved his idea of small food vs. big food.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    I had mixed feelings on this one. It started out swimmingly--I was howling with laughter as the author detailed the highs (including the extracurricular highs) and the lows of the Babbo employment experience. I was shocked (in a highly amused way) by the author's description of Batali. Surely, the soft-spoken, well-mannered guy I cheer for on Iron Chef America could not be telling his servers to "pistol-whip" unruly customers with their unmentionables behind Babbo's closed doors! (If true, as a I had mixed feelings on this one. It started out swimmingly--I was howling with laughter as the author detailed the highs (including the extracurricular highs) and the lows of the Babbo employment experience. I was shocked (in a highly amused way) by the author's description of Batali. Surely, the soft-spoken, well-mannered guy I cheer for on Iron Chef America could not be telling his servers to "pistol-whip" unruly customers with their unmentionables behind Babbo's closed doors! (If true, as a former bartender, this makes me like him even more, if we are being honest.) Then, it got so sloooowww in the middle that I finally just skipped over several chapters near the end to see how it ended. I think the book would have been easier to read if it had been divided into parts that detail the different phases (Batali's professional education, the author's time at Babbo and the author's time in Italy). As it is written, I found it disjointed and distracting. I did really enjoy learning about Italy's food traditions and about different food preparations. It made me very hungry :).

  3. 5 out of 5

    Valerie

    I started reading Heat without any prior knowledge of Mario Batali. I'd never cooked from any of his cookbooks, or seen his show. That said, the book was an interesting look at his life - an absolutely crazy one filled with gluttony, extreme restaurant hours and seemingly never-ending partying. But the focus of the book is not only Batali (although he steals the show, in my opinion). Actually written by Bill Buford about his time spent in one of Batali's restaurant kitchens (Babbo in NYC), Heat a I started reading Heat without any prior knowledge of Mario Batali. I'd never cooked from any of his cookbooks, or seen his show. That said, the book was an interesting look at his life - an absolutely crazy one filled with gluttony, extreme restaurant hours and seemingly never-ending partying. But the focus of the book is not only Batali (although he steals the show, in my opinion). Actually written by Bill Buford about his time spent in one of Batali's restaurant kitchens (Babbo in NYC), Heat also tells the story of his progression from home chef (and former New Yorker writer) to that of a line-cook and ultimately a pasta maker at the restaurant. It also serves as a memoir of his own time spent in Italy learning to cook pasta and butcher, as well as a history of Italian food. I felt that the most interesting parts were those chronicling his time in the kitchen at Babbo and telling Batali's personal story. The parts that, in the end, were the least interesting to me were those detailing the regional gastronomy of Italy, or the history of pasta... even as a person interested in food and cooking, some of these histories just went into too much detail and were too lengthy to hold my interest (for example, a seemingly unending chapter on when and why cooks starting adding eggs to their pasta dough). I was starting to lose interest in finishing the book, but what I found to be the most engaging part of Buford's personal experience (working with one of the best butchers in Italy) drew me back in. Heat did inspire me to check out some Batali cookbooks from the library, because since I finished reading it I've been having some incredible cravings for pasta with Bolognese sauce. It's also another book in the same vein of those that emphasize knowing your food - where it comes from, its quality, and really how to cook and enjoy it - that seem to be all the rage these days. If you: A) are really into Mario Batali, or are: B) willing to hand-roll sheets of pasta until they're translucent, or are: C) considering buying a whole pig at the farmer's market and butchering it yourself in your apartment, this is likely the book for you.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Petra-X

    I read this book last year and it was deleted from my booklist by Goodreads. Who naturally say this couldn't happen, I must have deleted it myself. I've never been able to prove before that the book was on my booklist until this one. It's not on my list yet I read it, and I wrote a comment last October on a friend's, Karen's review. I just came across this comment today. "The bit about eating pure pork fat close to the beginning really put me off. It doesn't matter what fancy name you call it, no I read this book last year and it was deleted from my booklist by Goodreads. Who naturally say this couldn't happen, I must have deleted it myself. I've never been able to prove before that the book was on my booklist until this one. It's not on my list yet I read it, and I wrote a comment last October on a friend's, Karen's review. I just came across this comment today. "The bit about eating pure pork fat close to the beginning really put me off. It doesn't matter what fancy name you call it, nor that the pig ate apples and walnuts and cream for months before it was butchered, the fact remains that it is lard. Disgusting, gross and all the rest." I couldn't have written this if I hadn't read it. But that wouldn't do for GR, because I still can't prove that I didn't delete it myself. How can anyone prove that? Btw the book was quite good. Buford is full of himself, but not as much as Batali. If you like chef-stories this is about middle of the pack for interest and enjoyment. Read 2014.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    I have to admit I picked this up because Anthony Bourdain was reading it on his show "No Reservations" (and he wrote Kitchen Confidential). This is the story of an editor for the New Yorker who ends up in the kitchens of Mario Batali - it is an encounter of his experiences in the kitchen, plus a biography of Mario, plus a history of food - all at the same time. I really enjoyed this. It took me back to my restaurant days, expressing the outrageous kitchen culture that you would not believe if yo I have to admit I picked this up because Anthony Bourdain was reading it on his show "No Reservations" (and he wrote Kitchen Confidential). This is the story of an editor for the New Yorker who ends up in the kitchens of Mario Batali - it is an encounter of his experiences in the kitchen, plus a biography of Mario, plus a history of food - all at the same time. I really enjoyed this. It took me back to my restaurant days, expressing the outrageous kitchen culture that you would not believe if you hadn't experienced it too. Following are quotations that were meaningful to me (I'm not sure they make sense out of context). "Holly was offered a job. It paid five hundred dollars a week, with five days' vacation starting in her second year. There was no mention of sick pay because it was understood you didn't get sick, which I'd already discovered in the chilly silence that had greeted me when I'd come down with the flu and phoned Elisa to say that I wasn't coming in that day...." "In fact, without my fully realizing it, there was an education in the frenzy, because in hte frenzy there was always repetition. Over and over again, I'd pick up a smell, as a task was being completed, until finally I came to identify not only what the food was but where it was in its preparation... One day I was given a hundred and fifty lamb tongues. I had never held a lamb's tongue, which I found greasy and unnervingly humanlike. But after cooking, trimming, peeling, and slicing a hundred and fifty lam tognues, I was an expert." "Give a chef an egg, and you'll know what kind of cook he is. It takes a lot to cook an egg." (This just made me laugh because in my restaurant kitchen, the CIA-trained grill cook could not poach an egg to save his life, and actually destroyed an entire dozen one day before the chef asked me to do it, and I only knew how because I'd read about it) "In addition to the endless riffing about cooking-with-love, chefs also talk about the happiness of making food: not preparing or cooking food but making it." (passage goes on in detail about the satisfaction of the aesthetic pleasure as well as other people finding satisfaction in what you have made) "The yelling, too, was not without its life lessons. When Frankie was abusing me, he was always doing it for a reason. He was trying to make me a better cook." There are so many more I could quote but they are too long - one page describes this day in a Florentine kitchen where the author trips, splits his head open, and catches on fire, and it is so freaking hilarious. I highly recommend this book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    If Buford’s name sounds familiar, it’s because he was the founding editor of Granta magazine and publisher at Granta Books, but by the time he wrote this he was a staff writer for the New Yorker. Mario Batali is this book’s presiding imp. In 2002–3, Buford was an unpaid intern in the kitchen of Batali’s famous New York City restaurant, Babbo, which serves fancy versions of authentic Italian dishes. It took 18 months for him to get so much as a thank-you. Buford’s strategy was “be invisible, be u If Buford’s name sounds familiar, it’s because he was the founding editor of Granta magazine and publisher at Granta Books, but by the time he wrote this he was a staff writer for the New Yorker. Mario Batali is this book’s presiding imp. In 2002–3, Buford was an unpaid intern in the kitchen of Batali’s famous New York City restaurant, Babbo, which serves fancy versions of authentic Italian dishes. It took 18 months for him to get so much as a thank-you. Buford’s strategy was “be invisible, be useful, and eventually you’ll be given a chance to do more.” In between behind-the-scenes looks at frantic or dull sessions of food prep (“after you’ve made a couple thousand or so of these little ears [orecchiette pasta], your mind wanders. You think about anything, everything, whatever, nothing”), Buford traces Batali’s culinary pedigree through Italy and London, where Batali learned from the first modern celebrity chef, Marco Pierre White, and gives pen portraits of the rest of the kitchen staff. At first only trusted with chopping herbs, the author develops his skills enough that he’s allowed to work the pasta and grill stations, and to make polenta for 200 for a benefit dinner in Nashville. Later, Buford spends stretches of several months in Italy as an apprentice to a pasta-maker and a Tuscan butcher. His obsession with Italian cuisine is such that he has to know precisely when egg started to replace water in pasta dough in historical cookbooks, and is distressed when the workers at the pasta museum in Rome can’t give him a definitive answer. All the same, the author never takes himself too seriously: he knows it’s ridiculous for a clumsy, unfit man in his mid-forties to be entertaining dreams of working in a restaurant for real, and he gives self-deprecating accounts of his mishaps in the various kitchens he toils in: to stir the polenta, I was beginning to feel I had to be in the polenta. Would I finish cooking it before I was enveloped by it and became the darkly sauced meaty thing it was served with? Compared to Kitchen Confidential, I found this less brash and more polished. You still get the sense of macho posturing from a lot of the figures profiled, but of course this author is not going to be in a position to interrogate food culture’s overweening masculinity. However, he does take a stand in support of small-scale food production: Small food: by hand and therefore precious, hard to find. Big food: from a factory and therefore cheap, abundant. Just about every preparation I learned in Italy was handmade and involved learning how to use my own hands differently. … Food made by hand is an act of defiance and runs contrary to everything in our modernity. Find it; eat it; it will go. This is exactly what I want from food writing: interesting nuggets of trivia and insight, a quick pace, humor, and mouthwatering descriptions. If the restaurant world lures you at all, you must read this one. I was delighted to learn that this year Buford released a sequel of sorts, this one about French cuisine: Dirt. It’s on my wish list. Originally published on my blog, Bookish Beck.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    Most food writing is shit. It wallows in superlatives as brazenly as real estate hustings. But really good writing about food makes the heart soar. This is in the second category. Partially because Buford is so craven, so desperate to GET what it is like being young, dumb and full of come in a kitchen more stuffed with wise-asses and borderline personality disorders than the average martini olive. Lots of guys take up lycra and the bike for their mid-life thingo. Or get expensive mistresses. Or fo Most food writing is shit. It wallows in superlatives as brazenly as real estate hustings. But really good writing about food makes the heart soar. This is in the second category. Partially because Buford is so craven, so desperate to GET what it is like being young, dumb and full of come in a kitchen more stuffed with wise-asses and borderline personality disorders than the average martini olive. Lots of guys take up lycra and the bike for their mid-life thingo. Or get expensive mistresses. Or foreign cars (the same thing, really). Buford rather sadly wants to cut it on the line in a four star restaurant. He is known as “kitchen bitch”. Happily for the reader, as a long-time food obsessed New Yorker staff writer with serious “chops” (sorry) in the descriptive department, it’s a pretty great ride for the reader. Things I learnt from Bill Buford: 1.Mario Batali is deeply unlikeable. 2.Kitchens are the most unreconstructed misogynist bastions imaginable. Still. 3.Italians love a gesture. The thing that makes it ineffably charming, which gives it gravitas, is that they LIVE by such gestures. Even if it makes their lives in some ways suck. I was tempted to deduct points from Buford’s giant schwing (sentimental and gee whiz all at the same time which is some feat for an erection) for artisanal production. YES, food made by hand is better. YES, frankenstein food production is a truly terrible side-effect of globalisation. But I’ve heard it a lot. And it doesn’t explain how in reality non-yuppies in urban settings can readily afford organic/local meats and produce. Other than to grown it, which is a HUGE leap for many folks. People don’t want to eat shit, but gee, nutrition is pretty good nowadays. Have you SEEN the SIZE of the feet on sixteen-year-old girls? I didn’t deduct the points because this book isn’t so new, and perhaps the Michael Pollan-esque message was a bit fresher then. Buford scores because he makes it fun instead of holier-than-thou. You won’t forget the Tuscan butchers he trains with in a hurry, either.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Wilkins

    A must-read for foodies and Slow Foodies. In one passage of the book, Bill Buford becomes preoccupied with researching when, in the long history of food on the Italian peninsula, cooks started putting eggs into their pasta dough. He decides to go on a quest to Italy and meets with the cook at La Volta, a small restaurant in the town of Porretta Terme. Mario Batali lived and worked here during an internship before going to New York and opening Babbo. He considers the cook, Betta, and all the othe A must-read for foodies and Slow Foodies. In one passage of the book, Bill Buford becomes preoccupied with researching when, in the long history of food on the Italian peninsula, cooks started putting eggs into their pasta dough. He decides to go on a quest to Italy and meets with the cook at La Volta, a small restaurant in the town of Porretta Terme. Mario Batali lived and worked here during an internship before going to New York and opening Babbo. He considers the cook, Betta, and all the others associated with La Volta, extended family. And so Buford sets out to meet her and find out about pasta and what inspired Batali. Buford writes(page 198 of the hardcover): Betta's tortellini are now in my head and in my hands. I follow her formula for the dough--an egg for every etto of flour, sneaking in an extra yolk if the mix doesn't look wet enough. I've learned to roll out a sheet until I see the grain of the wood underneath. I let it dry if I'm making tagliatelle; I keep it damp if I'm making tortellini. I make a small batch, roll out a sheet, then another, the rhythm of the pasta, each movement like the last one. My mind empties. I think only of the task. Is the dough too sticky? Will it tear? Does the sheet, held between my fingers, feel right? But often I wonder what Betta would think, and, like that, I'm back in that valley with its broken-combed mountain tops and the wolves at night and the ever-present feeling that the world is so much bigger than you, and my mind becomes a jumble of association, of aunts and a round table and laughter you can't hear anymore, and I am overcome by a feeling of loss. It is, I concluded, a side effect of this kind of food, one that's handed down from one generation to another, often in conditions of adversity, that you end up thinking of the dead, that the very stuff that sustains you tastes somehow of mortality.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    i got this to read on the airplane, and it did an admirable job for that precise purpose. but there's one thing that's a real problem for this book. About halfway through, he ends a chapter saying he has to leave New York to deal with "personal demons." Fine. But he never mentions what they are/ were. And the book is all under the guise of a kind of memoir. If he's not going to tell the reader what those demons are, don't use it as a cliffhanger/ enticement to keep reading. Not only is it suprem i got this to read on the airplane, and it did an admirable job for that precise purpose. but there's one thing that's a real problem for this book. About halfway through, he ends a chapter saying he has to leave New York to deal with "personal demons." Fine. But he never mentions what they are/ were. And the book is all under the guise of a kind of memoir. If he's not going to tell the reader what those demons are, don't use it as a cliffhanger/ enticement to keep reading. Not only is it supremely annoying, but it detracts and distracts from the rest of the book. What the hell kind of editor would let that in anyway: "Hey, why don't you leave a tease in there about your personal life, and then never come back to it? I'm sure the reader would love that! Especially since they're probably reading this book more to find out about food than you! So why not get the interested in your life for 5 seconds." Assholes.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kasa Cotugno

    Kitchen culture from the inside. Interesting re-read in light of the updated history of Mario Batali who plays such a prominent role in this book that was written before me-too.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Wow, I enjoyed this way more than I expected! On more than one occasion I ate lunch in my car so I could keep listening. Hilarious, insightful, and mouth-watering. Buford's taste in food is just a bit different from mine - I can't count the pounds of "lardo" that he consumes over the telling - but his journey feels very kindred. Amateur cook learns skills, travels to Italy, appreciates homemade traditional food. Except he happens to be completely obsessive and surrounded by larger than life char Wow, I enjoyed this way more than I expected! On more than one occasion I ate lunch in my car so I could keep listening. Hilarious, insightful, and mouth-watering. Buford's taste in food is just a bit different from mine - I can't count the pounds of "lardo" that he consumes over the telling - but his journey feels very kindred. Amateur cook learns skills, travels to Italy, appreciates homemade traditional food. Except he happens to be completely obsessive and surrounded by larger than life characters and a writer by profession. I loved all of the elements that Buford wove together, but the only reason the book doesn't make the 5 star cut is that it did feel completely schizophrenic at times, like he couldn't decide if he was writing a memoir, a biography of Mario Batali, or a history of Italian Renaissance cooking. It jumps back and forth thematically and chronologically, so you just kind of have to give up trying to follow along and take from it what you will. Piles of bonus points for a book about meat with the utmost respect for the animals. He even writes that he appreciates vegetarians because they are among the few people who actually THINK about meat. Also, I get cranky when I read too much about locavores and the green revolution and won't someone pleeease think of the children blah blah blah. So much better when someone recognizes traditional food as this powerfully conservative force. He has a beautiful passage about how the essence of what he has learned comes down to handmade. Indulge me in an extensive quote... "Italians have a word, casalinga, homemade, although its primary sense is "made by hand." My theory is just a variant of casalinga. (Small food: by hand and therefore precious, hard to find. Big food: from a factory and therefore cheap, abundant.) Just about every preparation I learned in Italy was handmade and involved my learning how to use my own hands differently. My hands were trained to roll out dough, to use a knife to break down a thigh, to make sausage or lardo or polpetone. With some techniques, I had to make my hands small, like Betta's. With others, I made them big, like the Maestro's. The hands, Dario says, are everything. With them, cooks express themselves, like artists. With them, they make food that people use their hands to eat. With the hands, Dario passes on to me what he learned from his father. With the hands, Betta gives me her aunts. The hands of Miriam's mother, her grandmothers. The hands of Dario's grandfather, the great-grandfather he never met, except indirectly, in what was passed on through his hands. Miriam, who can't get a pastina to roll out the dough, no longer makes handmade pasta. When her daughter takes over, will she roll it out by hand? In Tuscany, you can't get the meat at the heart of the region's cooking, so Dario and the Maestro found a small farm that reproduces the intensity of flavor they grew up with. How long will that taste memory last? The Maestro will die. Dario will die. I will die. The memory will die. Food made by hand is an act of defiance and runs contrary to everything in our modernity. Find it; eat it; it will go. It has been around for millennia. Now it is evanescent, like a season."

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sera

    Outstanding on audio. Over the last couple of years, I have been reading my way through some of the more well-known "cooking" books, which tend to be more memoir than actual cooking: Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, Yes, Chef and Blood, Bones, and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef come to mind. Much of the writing is about the lives of these chefs and how they started cooking. Then it follows their restaurant careers and the success that they have t Outstanding on audio. Over the last couple of years, I have been reading my way through some of the more well-known "cooking" books, which tend to be more memoir than actual cooking: Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, Yes, Chef and Blood, Bones, and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef come to mind. Much of the writing is about the lives of these chefs and how they started cooking. Then it follows their restaurant careers and the success that they have today. Don't get me wrong, these books are great! It's just that Heat takes the concept to a whole other level. Buford gets interested in cooking in his 40s. As you read about his experiences in the cooking world, it's clear that Buford is really interested in the art of cooking where he will likely always be a student of that art, rather than an owner of that art, or restaurateur. Buford's book isn't about Buford as a kid, or his marriage, or how his family impacted his life - it's about FOOD. It's about life in a hot NYC kitchen doing prep work and then learning to run the grill. It's about Buford's treks to Italy to work for nothing to learn under unknown cooks about making pasta or butchering a cow. The book also provides some gossip around what it is like to work with Mario Batali and other greats within the elite cooking/restaurant world. (Cool scoop: Mario is a major boozehound. He can drink 18 whiskeys in one evening. He's also a bit of a pig, who likes to get dirty with the ladies. Yep, sometimes what you think you see, is what you actually get.) There's even a bit of the Food Network and how it evolved since it first aired in the 1990s. Buford doesn't let his love of cooking and slow food diminish his sense of humor. He can rip a funny yarn, and the reader of the book really did an excellent job of capturing Buford's spirit. Overall, this book set the standard of what people who love food should be writing about. I highly recommend it.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Meghan

    As food critic said about Babbo, I say about this book, I would have given it four stars but... I felt that the story lagged when he worked with the Butcher in Tuscany. But some of the most hilarious adventures happened there too. "I had concerns....The other was that my apron, which was floor-length, would catch on fire. I rehearsed in my mind the possible scenario. The apron is secured around the waist with a string belt....So that was the first thing--untie it. If I didn't, it could be ugly. I As food critic said about Babbo, I say about this book, I would have given it four stars but... I felt that the story lagged when he worked with the Butcher in Tuscany. But some of the most hilarious adventures happened there too. "I had concerns....The other was that my apron, which was floor-length, would catch on fire. I rehearsed in my mind the possible scenario. The apron is secured around the waist with a string belt....So that was the first thing--untie it. If I didn't, it could be ugly. I pictured myself in flames, being unable to remove the apron, and Dario's rushing over, all heroic and decisive, picking me up with his giant hands, hurling me to the floor, and stomping out the fire. (I did not want to be stomped.) (p. 229) Let's just say there was a fire and some stomping ensued. But this was a marvelous book if you enjoy cooking, want to know more about the life of restaurants, are a Mario Batali fan, or just simply love Italian food. Part of me wants to sell everything and go follow the "way of Mario". Although I don't think I would ever buy a whole pig and butcher it at home. But it does give me pause to think of how little we Americans think about where food comes from and how it SHOULD taste. Too often Buford made too "American" statements when he is over in Italy, which I found slightly distracting. But I appreciated the journey he took. My own experiences in China and Europe made me realize that food in the US doesn't taste like what it should. Tomatoes don't taste like tomatoes. Rice doesn't taste like rice. We've over processed, perserved, added, and chemically, hormonally, altered our food for convenience sake. There is something to be said about knowing where your food came from, how it was prepared, and following the traditions that were passed down father to son and mother to daughter. So if anything, let this book help you find your food roots and begin a new journey of savoring the stuff we cram into our mouths.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

    I loved this book a whole lot - and warn that should you tackle it, please do so with a large amount of red wine and italian food readily available. Much like it's torture to watch Chocolat without chocolate, it would be rude not to eat pasta and drink red wine while this book's in your life. The book's an amalgamation of many things I love - cooking, peeking behind the scenes at famous restaurants, drinking wine, contemplating where food does and should come from. Buford spent just over a year s I loved this book a whole lot - and warn that should you tackle it, please do so with a large amount of red wine and italian food readily available. Much like it's torture to watch Chocolat without chocolate, it would be rude not to eat pasta and drink red wine while this book's in your life. The book's an amalgamation of many things I love - cooking, peeking behind the scenes at famous restaurants, drinking wine, contemplating where food does and should come from. Buford spent just over a year slowly learning skills in Mario Batali's kitchen, and his memoir of those months is interspersed by historical wanderings - when did eggs come to replace water in preparing pasta dough? Who wrote the first definitive Italian cookbook? Did Catherine de Medici really create French cuisine when she moved to France, betrothed to a Prince? There's even a little philosophizing on offer, a la Pollan and Bittman - it's not fast food or slow food that's the issue, Buford argues, it's big food and little food that matters: Italians have a word, casalinga, homemade, although its primary sense is "made by hand." My theory is just a variant of casalinga. (Small food: by hand and therefore precious, hard to find. Big food: from a factory and therefore cheap, abundant.) I loved the behind-the-scenes details of what goes on in the kitchen of a good restaurant, and the historical diversions, and the quotes from centuries-old textbooks. Buford delivers all of it with a good sense of humor, especially when reflecting on his own mistakes, and the whole thing is fascinating and entertaining to a really remarkable degree. Yay book!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Christin

    Let me preface this review with a disclaimer, I am not a foodie; I am an eater. My only interest in food typically is how it tastes, not its journey from field to slaughterhouse to restaurant to the particulars of preparation to my plate to my stomach, but Buford might have changed my perspective. His literary-historical perspective on Tuscan food, his wild, uproarious tales from the life of Mario Batali and the Babbo kitchen, and his engaging portraits of food culture in Italia, were thoroughly Let me preface this review with a disclaimer, I am not a foodie; I am an eater. My only interest in food typically is how it tastes, not its journey from field to slaughterhouse to restaurant to the particulars of preparation to my plate to my stomach, but Buford might have changed my perspective. His literary-historical perspective on Tuscan food, his wild, uproarious tales from the life of Mario Batali and the Babbo kitchen, and his engaging portraits of food culture in Italia, were thoroughly enjoyable and a most entertaining read. The only quibbles I have are the barely mentioned supporting cast of his family that was also involved in his big, culinary tour of la dolce vita. While I have always fantasized about marrying a man who would suggest that I quit academia to move to Italy and live on pancetta and love, I think it must have been horrifying for his wife to hear that her husband was abandoning the relative stability and paycheck of his job as fiction editor for *The New Yorker* to spend time screwing around in Mario Batali's kitchen and then the restaurants and butcheries of Tuscany trying to sate his gluttinous muse. Buford's acknowledgment at the beginning of the book hardly seems a fittingly sufficient tribute to the amount of dedication and forbearance displayed by such a spouse. Nonetheless, this was obvi. a Perrin pick, and she was right-on in thinking it would be just the fantasy food tour of Italy my graduate-education-weary soul needed at the moment.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Margaret

    A terrific reading of a hugely entertaining book. The very long title pretty much summarizes the gist: Mr. Buford, a writer and editor, finagles a job working in Chef Mario Batali's NYC restaurant, Babbo, starting as lowly, brow-beaten kitchen prep, and proceeds, without any real ambition, to work his way up, somewhat, in the kitchen hierarchy. This stretch of the book will be familiar to anyone who has read Anthony Bourdain's "Kitchen Confidential," both in terms of restaurant and cooking detai A terrific reading of a hugely entertaining book. The very long title pretty much summarizes the gist: Mr. Buford, a writer and editor, finagles a job working in Chef Mario Batali's NYC restaurant, Babbo, starting as lowly, brow-beaten kitchen prep, and proceeds, without any real ambition, to work his way up, somewhat, in the kitchen hierarchy. This stretch of the book will be familiar to anyone who has read Anthony Bourdain's "Kitchen Confidential," both in terms of restaurant and cooking detail plus, to an extent, similarity of writing style (both Mr. Buford and Mr. Bourdain are very good writers). The difference from "Kitchen Confidential" lies in Mr. Buford's self-professed (and I think genuine) lack of ambition in pursuing any sort of restaurant career - basically he's there for the education and, apparently, for the writing material. The book then morphs into descriptions of two stints the author makes in Italy, one to learn how to make pasta and the other how to butcher (and cook) meat. These aren't just stints in Italy, they are stints in (emphasis, please) Tuscany - both the pasta maker and the butcher with whom Mr. Buford works and learns show immense pride in their particular region, and the bits about Tuscans and their style of food (lots of brown, not much by way of vegetables) are very interesting. Mr. Buford has a great eye for detail and terrific skill in turning a phrase - he's very funny and the reader for this audio edition (sorry, don't have his name in front of me) is excellent.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Judy

    Bill Buford is an editor who determines to find out what it would be like to work in a professional kitchen. Fortunately, he gets the opportunity to find out when he meets Food Network chef, Mario Batali at a baseball game. This book details the stressful world of preparing 3-star meals. It is complete with depiction of kitchen-prejudice, snobbery, recipes and more than you ever wanted to know about what goes into meal-prep. I found the audio version of this book entertaining, informational and Bill Buford is an editor who determines to find out what it would be like to work in a professional kitchen. Fortunately, he gets the opportunity to find out when he meets Food Network chef, Mario Batali at a baseball game. This book details the stressful world of preparing 3-star meals. It is complete with depiction of kitchen-prejudice, snobbery, recipes and more than you ever wanted to know about what goes into meal-prep. I found the audio version of this book entertaining, informational and hilarious at times. I have more respect for chefs, and particularly line-cooks after listening to this. The dedication, years of free labor, abuse most go through to obtain the status of chef is like few other occupations. Line cooks endure cramped working conditions, constant pressure, while grill cooks live on the edge of being set on fire (at least Buford did!). There must certainly be something to the labor of love moniker placed on food preparation by those who aspire to it. This industry does seem to have an abundance of strong, colorful personalities that were fun to be introduced to via audio book. As far as the Dante-quoting tuscany butcher, I'll steer clear of him. Harmless, but .... that much verve with a butcher knife ... stand back!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Allison

    I read half this book, really enjoyed it, and then had to return it to the library. I ended up finishing it on Audible and thoroughly enjoyed it. With the recent #MeToo movement, it was particularly interesting to hear about Chef Mario's behavior. The sheer amount they drank throughout the book was unbelievable. Loved every aspect, and so glad I came back to Heat. It really is one of the quintessential books on food.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Tom Carrico

    Book Review Heat by Bill Buford Reviewed by Tom Carrico Bill Buford is a former editor of the “The New Yorker” magazine, founding editor of “Granta” magazine and publisher of Granta Books. His hobby was cooking. He cooked for friends and business associates and on one occasion for the renowned chef Mario Batali. That occasion prompted Mr. Buford to quit his job at “The New Yorker” and sign on as an unpaid intern at Batali’s three star Italian restaurant Babbo in New York City. This book is part mem Book Review Heat by Bill Buford Reviewed by Tom Carrico Bill Buford is a former editor of the “The New Yorker” magazine, founding editor of “Granta” magazine and publisher of Granta Books. His hobby was cooking. He cooked for friends and business associates and on one occasion for the renowned chef Mario Batali. That occasion prompted Mr. Buford to quit his job at “The New Yorker” and sign on as an unpaid intern at Batali’s three star Italian restaurant Babbo in New York City. This book is part memoir of that experience, part travelogue, part history of Italian cooking and part observatory character studies of the eccentric personalities the author encountered. Add to this mixture a large aliquot of humor and you have the recipe for a thoroughly enjoyable book. The memoir portion of the book details his rise from “kitchen slave” to line cook (which included a stint at the grill station) and finally to pasta maker. The author’s misadventures, including dicing the carrots too small, multiple injuries (including splatter burns and minor lacerations) and wasting food are all humorously documented. The amazing aspect of all of this to me was how much this experience (although only lasting about a year) was reminiscent of my surgical residency. The graded responsibility, the general fault-finding and learning from mistakes all seemed remarkably similar to that experience. Initially, his superiors criticize every move and use every mistake as a “teaching opportunity” (usually involving screaming). As he moves up the responsibility ladder, Mr. Buford relates his frustration when the kitchen manager (who in my mind represented the Surgical Chief Resident) demanding that certain orders be replated immediately for no apparent reason. The even more fascinating portions of the book come about when Chef Batali talks to the author (“talking” here includes earsplitting fits of anger) and informs him that the only way to truly understand the art of cooking Italian food was to go to Italy and learn it first hand. This is, in fact, the way Batali learned. The author does indeed make many trips to Italy. First he learns the fine art of pasta making from women who run a small restaurant and were taught their skills by their mother and their aunts, who in turn were taught by their mothers and aunts. The reader learns the difference between pastasciutta and pasta fresca, when the egg was first introduced into the ingredients (it turns out nobody, including the curators of the Pasta Museum in Italy, are exactly sure, although sometime in the 13th century is a good guess), and why machine made pasta is unacceptable. On a return trip to Panzano (near Tuscany), Mr. Buford learns the art of the butcher from Dario Cecchini, who comes from a long line of master butchers. Dario has the interesting habit of intermittently screaming long excerpts from The Divine Comedy alternating with singing excerpts from Mozart’s “Don Giovanni” while he works. These “performances” are fueled by generous amounts of alcohol. The meticulous care of knives, the various cuts of meat from pigs and cows and the appreciation for the preparation of meats as an art form are detailed. The cast of characters which Mr. Buford meets while working at Babbo (including the maestro Batali) and traveling and living in Italy is colorful and very amusingly described by the author and is one of the strengths of Heat. This cast includes the characters already described above as well as the other restaurant workers who jealously guard their secrets of success, the Italians who courageously defend their ancient cooking arts in a modern world as well as the menagerie which makes up the restaurant world in New York City (including patrons, competing chefs and newspaper food critics). I don’t know if this was the best book to read while trying to adopt a “heart-healthy” diet and mode of living, but I know that even under those circumstances this was a thoroughly enjoyable, entertaining, humorous and even informative book. Heat by Bill Buford is available in trade paperback from Vintage Books.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Moira Burke

    "Bill Buford likes to surround himself with histrionic people, whose antics frequently cross the line into violence. First, it was the soccer hooligans. Now it's three-star NY chef Mario Batali and Italian butcher Dario Cecchini. You can imagine Buford and Batali, into their fifth bottle of wine in a dim New York hot spot at three in the morning, Buford regaling the imbecilic escapades of the Man United fans in the eighties, and Batali savoring (and interrupting) every detail. Not content with h "Bill Buford likes to surround himself with histrionic people, whose antics frequently cross the line into violence. First, it was the soccer hooligans. Now it's three-star NY chef Mario Batali and Italian butcher Dario Cecchini. You can imagine Buford and Batali, into their fifth bottle of wine in a dim New York hot spot at three in the morning, Buford regaling the imbecilic escapades of the Man United fans in the eighties, and Batali savoring (and interrupting) every detail. Not content with his job as New Yorker fiction editor, Buford abandons his day job to be a kitchen slave in Babbo and later an apprentice to a pasta maker and a butcher in Italy. An excellent read for foodies. Selected quotes:Chicken feet are a vivid sight--like human hands without a thumb, curled up and knuckly--and the first time I saw them, bobbing in their giant vat, they looked as though they were attached to the arms of so many people, clawing at the churning water; trying to climb out, the bubbling pot a portal from Hell, there in the back of the kitchen, against the wall, the hottest place.The burden was in the fact that the polenta was never made first thing. It was always the seventh or eighth thing. So if you got busy and forgot--if suddenly, at four-thirty, you found yourself saying, \""Oh shit, the polenta!\""--you were in trouble. You can't crush three hours of slow cooking into sixty minutes. For emergencies, a box of the instant was hidden on the top shelf of the walk-in, but to use it was considered a failure of character. It also rendered Frankie apoplectic, who took these lapses as personal slights. \""You're doing this to humiliate me,\"" he'd say to whoever he'd just spotted, tiptoeing like a shoplifter, clandestinely slinking off with a box of the instant an hour before the service started. \""You're doing this to make me look bad. You're doing this because you know we will fucking lose our fucking three stars if we start serving fucking instant, and if we lose our fucking three stars I lose my fucking job.\""One busy Saturday, Dario was serving a woman about to purchase her first bistecca who then asked him if the meat was good. \""E\buona?\"" Dario said, his voice rising theatrically with exaggerated indignation. \""Non lo so. Proviano\"" (I don't know--let's find out.) So he took a bite--the woman's raw purchase--chewed it melodramatically, swallowed, said, \""Yes, it's good,\"" wrapped it up, and gave the woman her change. The woman, aghast, took her package and fled. The consequence was that several people asked Dario if he would take a bite out of their steaks as well-as though his teeth marks were an autograph. \""Please,\"" one man said, \""it's for my wife.\"""""

  21. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    When I first started this book, I asked my friend Jen what she thought of it. Not much, apparently; she didn't find the author "compelling". It was just boring, even for an amateur cook like me. He describes things (like when egg was first introduced as an ingredient in pasta) that he says most people would not be interested in, and then goes on and on ad nauseum about them. If you know they are not interesting to people, then why go into detail about them? It is odd that he was an editor for Th When I first started this book, I asked my friend Jen what she thought of it. Not much, apparently; she didn't find the author "compelling". It was just boring, even for an amateur cook like me. He describes things (like when egg was first introduced as an ingredient in pasta) that he says most people would not be interested in, and then goes on and on ad nauseum about them. If you know they are not interesting to people, then why go into detail about them? It is odd that he was an editor for The New Yorker. He seemed to use the same words over and over. I thought "evanescent" must be his new favorite word since he used it to describe everyone and everything. It also occurred to me that he wasn't a very likable person, either. It was clear that he enjoyed starting trouble. He didn't seem to have any loyalty to the chefs who were teaching him. He told Dario's secrets about where he obtained his meat to Dario's arch enemy, for example. The book is full of gossip about his teachers, including Mario Batali, and he also makes sure to attribute it to someone else ... (I'm just sayin'...). He was pretty impressed with himself and the obscure facts he could find out about gastronomy. I agree with him that most people don't want to know about how their hamburger came to be; I certainly don't. And maybe we should take some responsibility for what we eat. However, his description of butchering and detailed passages about the uses of what most people would consider the inedible parts of an animal were enough to turn me away from steak forever and possibly turn me into a vegetarian! At the end of the book, it sounds as if Batali and he are still friends but I wonder if that changed once Batali read it. Certainly, it is no news that Batali is a wild man and a hard partier; however, I felt the author's representation of him was small and mean-spirited, especially considering that a kitchen on the level of Babbo would, as he himself admitted, never take on a home chef without formal kitchen education or experience. The author is an ingrate, and I found him (and subsequently his book) distasteful. He moves his wife all over the world with disregard for her job(she's an editor-in-chief of a major magazine in New York, I believe) on his whim. He ends the book with the fact that Mario offered him a restaurant (and of course getting in that now he knew stuff Mario didn't know) but that he was now going to go to France! Great advertisement for a sequel, wouldn't you say?

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay

    Actually, I only got a little over halfway through the book before I realized I had lost the momentum. It was really entertaining at first, but a lot reminded me of Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential without the cred. I couldn't help but start getting frustrated that Buford did not deserve the privilege and luxury of jumping from station to station in the Babbo kitchen just because he felt like it--especially when his colleagues had been busting their balls for years (and were largely getting it ri Actually, I only got a little over halfway through the book before I realized I had lost the momentum. It was really entertaining at first, but a lot reminded me of Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential without the cred. I couldn't help but start getting frustrated that Buford did not deserve the privilege and luxury of jumping from station to station in the Babbo kitchen just because he felt like it--especially when his colleagues had been busting their balls for years (and were largely getting it right where he failed). The bits on Batali's life were interesting for a while, but those began to peter out, and I did like the food history well enough, but not enough to keep going. Also, why only Italian food? The only reason Buford cites as his concept for this book/experience, as I recall, was his being an avid amateur cook and wanted to see what it was like to work in a professional kitchen. Is it just because of his in with Batali? It seems that if he knew Batali, he must have known other chefs. Was it because Babbo was so prestigious? Was it because Batali was getting his ego stroked on the premise that Buford would be writing a piece on him for The New Yorker? Was Batali the only chef willing to let this guy in? And all this led to further fascination with the particulars of Italian food? Perhaps it's all revealed in the chapters I won't be reading.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sean

    Food as: - a business - an artform - an intellectual interest - a link to the soil - a tenuous and evocative link to the past plus: - recipes (of a sort, since recipes are for home cooks, we learn) for linguine with clams, the tuscan version of beef bourginion, and more - mario batali is a foul-mouthed drunk who loves the ladies - restaurant kitchens are no place for the myth and mystery of food (e.g., the $29 bowl of "peasant" soup made from scraps); dried pasta served at high-end italian restaurants buf Food as: - a business - an artform - an intellectual interest - a link to the soil - a tenuous and evocative link to the past plus: - recipes (of a sort, since recipes are for home cooks, we learn) for linguine with clams, the tuscan version of beef bourginion, and more - mario batali is a foul-mouthed drunk who loves the ladies - restaurant kitchens are no place for the myth and mystery of food (e.g., the $29 bowl of "peasant" soup made from scraps); dried pasta served at high-end italian restaurants buford is a fine writer, and his intellectual curiosity about food -- the ingredients, the history, the cooking process, the eating and enjoyment -- drives the reader along from one experience to the next. olive oil, working the line, ancient breeds of cattle, appreciating the flavors of a slice of pure pig fat. if you appreciate your food as more than a source of fuel, you'll find something to like in this book.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Siobhan Fallon

    Some of this book is amazing, but I found it uneven as a whole. I picked it up because I was curious about Mario Batali, but the Batali of this book is the least interesting character of all. The final chapters, when Bill Buford goes to Italy to apprentice with a butcher, are absolutely gorgeous. Bill Buford was an editor at the New Yorker and his breath of knowledge shows. He is best when discussing Italy, everything from the making of tortellini (and the rumor that they are modeled after the p Some of this book is amazing, but I found it uneven as a whole. I picked it up because I was curious about Mario Batali, but the Batali of this book is the least interesting character of all. The final chapters, when Bill Buford goes to Italy to apprentice with a butcher, are absolutely gorgeous. Bill Buford was an editor at the New Yorker and his breath of knowledge shows. He is best when discussing Italy, everything from the making of tortellini (and the rumor that they are modeled after the pasta originator's lover's belly button), the history of Italian cooking, and his research of fourteenth century cookbooks. He writes wonderfully and has a great sense of humor and humility (which explains how he managed to work for an entire year, without pay and under constant abuse, at Batali's restaurant). At times he just tells too much and needed another editor (or butcher) looking over his shoulder and telling him to cut the fat off.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    THIS IS A FAVORITE!! I read this book on vacation and it completely altered my state of mind! I was transported into the world of a commercial kitchen, and then to Italy for historic preparation of handmade pasta. Bill Buford is a delightful author, funny and a little insane. Only two complaints about this book. First, I was disgusted when he went to work for a butcher and, in great detail, described his new expertise. I sped read through that chapter, but I've eaten primarily vegetarian for more THIS IS A FAVORITE!! I read this book on vacation and it completely altered my state of mind! I was transported into the world of a commercial kitchen, and then to Italy for historic preparation of handmade pasta. Bill Buford is a delightful author, funny and a little insane. Only two complaints about this book. First, I was disgusted when he went to work for a butcher and, in great detail, described his new expertise. I sped read through that chapter, but I've eaten primarily vegetarian for more than 20 years. Second, he doesn't talk about his personal life AT ALL. Come on, you have a wife who is forced to put up with your manic adventures -- forfeiting your stable 23-year career in journalism in order to work in a restaurant until 4 a.m. each night, arriving home smelling like holy hell, I am sure. I think we need to know a little bit about how she handles you! Otherwise, I adore this book and his writing style. Don't miss it! He'll leave you inspired in your own kitchen!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Laurel

    Well, I love the premise of this book, and I began it with gusto (insert lame gastronomy joke here), but it became a little too detailed and meandering in parts for me and I lost interest. I was really excited by Buford's accounts of working in the kitchen at Babbo, a restaurant I used to walk by, gaze longingly towards, but never ate at. It sort of read like a long New Yorker article, which makes sense, and is a good thing, but began to wear thin when Buford travels to Italy (See Valerie's revie Well, I love the premise of this book, and I began it with gusto (insert lame gastronomy joke here), but it became a little too detailed and meandering in parts for me and I lost interest. I was really excited by Buford's accounts of working in the kitchen at Babbo, a restaurant I used to walk by, gaze longingly towards, but never ate at. It sort of read like a long New Yorker article, which makes sense, and is a good thing, but began to wear thin when Buford travels to Italy (See Valerie's review). I guess I'm glad it's not Bourdain or anything, but maybe I just needed a little faster pace. What can I say, I watch too much Top Chef or something. It's worth reading for the parts about working in the kitchen, and how hard it really is to be a chef of such high caliber as Batali. I just skimmed the rest...

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I enjoyed the descriptions of food and of Italy, but I frequently found myself comparing Buford's self-assigned temporary experience as a journalist-turned-culinary-kind-of-person to Bordain's authentic experience as an actual chef in Kitchen Confidential . Overall, I preferred Bordain's account of the fast-and-furious culinary lifestyle. I enjoyed the descriptions of food and of Italy, but I frequently found myself comparing Buford's self-assigned temporary experience as a journalist-turned-culinary-kind-of-person to Bordain's authentic experience as an actual chef in Kitchen Confidential . Overall, I preferred Bordain's account of the fast-and-furious culinary lifestyle.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    It doesn't say so on the cover, but this book is about Batali and the author's sycophancy toward him. While I was initially interested to hear the author's experiences in professional kitchens, Batali gave me the creeps even before #metoo. Perhaps this isn't a fair evaluation of the author and the book, but I was unable to get through more than 30 pages. There are too many other things to read (and cook!).

  29. 5 out of 5

    Trish

    He's so funny and so enthusiastic and so deluded--so human. It really is fascinating to see the lengths people will go for their passion, if they can. This is pulls the curtain back at bit from professional chef-ery, and restaurant cooking in general. For the few that make it big, there are millions who slave in the heat...I don't think I will ever forget the polenta anecdote.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    This book really helped me to appreciate the restaurant industry and Italian culinary history and culture. Things I learned: 1. Mario Batali is a disgusting man. 2. Restaurant work is rough. 3. Italians are awesome. 4. Pork is gross.

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