Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain, the star of the series No reservations on the Travel Channel, and the author of Kitchen Confidential now releases his sharp tongue, never apologizing ways in this new collection about the chefs in the industry, the economy, the best places to find a good burger… it reads like we are sitting and talking about cooking and food…. Anthony Bourdain flies from topic to topic, while occasionally hard to follow – it almost always is interesting.

If you have seen his show, you pretty much know what you are in for.  At least… I thought I did.


Here is a little sample (or two) of Bourdain’s show, No Reservations:




Anyway – you get the picture.  Food is what Boudain does.  And for the most part he does it well.  This was also the draw for me to this audio, narrated by Anthony Bourdain himself.

I admit it.  I like the tone of Anthony’s voice.  He is level and matter of fact.  he has a quick wit, a knack for sarcasm – and he tells it like it is.  Even, when I necessarily do not need to know to that extent of “what it is”.

What do I mean by that?  Well, while I do enjoy Anthony Bourdain’s show, No Reservations… I have come to realize that they clean his words up quite a bit.  In this audio, there is none of this and you can plan on being encased in everything that is on Anthony’s mind and without any sensors, all of this will come right out of his mouth.  You will hear the “F” word… frequently.  You will hear pretty much every other word as well.

So why, a person that usually avoids such books and audio, why would I put myself through this?

Honestly… I like to hear about the food behind Anthony’s language.  If you can filter (and you will need a heavy-duty one at that) through that, the audio is quite interesting. 

I enjoyed hearing how the economy changed the look and feel of some of New Yorks higher class restaurants forever – and even possibly for the better.  Anthony shares that while some restaurants may no longer be able to afford to serve the salmon they once did, they have found ways to serve delicious lesser priced fish just as well.  In some cases – they are thrilled to do so as chefs have known that some of the fish that normally would not grace their menu, is actually very good – and the economy has given them the opportunity to show this.

I also learned – that the economy has made the classy restaurants friendlier.  There was a time you would be snubbed for walking up to a high-class eatery without a reservation.  If you called to get a reservation without weeks and weeks notice, you would practically be hung up on.  These days are gone.  People are now encouraged to come in anytime.  The phone service has greatly improved and the wait staff is considerably friendlier.  Well – yay for all of that.  😛

I also enjoyed hearing about other big named chefs.  Bourdain is not easy on any of them.  He takes no prisoners. Some he admires.  More, he does not, and he is not shy to tell you why.  Names are tossed on the chopping block.  He even goes into detail about his time as a judge on Top Chef.  Bourdain will share, occasionally at great lengths about the importance of the great chefs actually being at their restaurants – actually cooking meals instead of relying on their name alone to get people in the door. 

The chapter talking of the great detail that chefs go to prepare the fish for our meals – astounded me.  I had never thought about what the big name restaurant may pay for a pound of fish and that would be including – head, innards, scales etc… much of which they paid for is thrown away in the cleaning process and they pay a very talented chef with a knife to do just that long before we ever see it on our plate. 

At times I applauded Anthony Bourdains’ boldness.  At other times I cringed at his references, language and crudeness.   I am well aware that some of what make me cringe… are part of what has made him the success he is today.

The over all thing I have to admit here is that despite his great flaws…. I like him.  


This review is linked to Beth Fish Reads Weekend Cooking.  Pop on over and see what others are cooking or reading about food this weekend!


Amazon Rating

Goodreads Review


The 2011 WHERE Are You Reading Map has been updated to include Medium Raw

I purchased this audio from

27 thoughts on “Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain

  1. Oh, fantastic! I am dying to read this. I have friends in the industry who pretty much cherish his openness, and have always taken that as a good recommendation as well.

  2. I have seen Anthony on tv and now after reading your review I am very curious. I think it sounds like an interesting audiobook. I may have to get this and share it with my brother. He is a chef although not working as one now due to health problems. He would like this.

    1. Beth there are parts I enjoyed learning and others I could have done without. I would listen to him again just because I do learn some interesting things about cooking.

      I just wish I could weed out all the language.

  3. I’m afraid that I might be put off by the over-use of expletives…somehow I think I would do better with the physical book rather than the audioversion for that reason.

  4. I think you hit it right on the head. Bourdain has definitely made a name for himself by being a polarizing figure. He knows there are things about him that people love and hate all rolled into one and that’s what makes him so fascinating. I highly respect him and enjoy watching his show and hearing him speak but yeah, there are things about him that make me want to smack him too. But, even he knows this about himself. Even though he’s one to easily dish out criticism, he’s also not so arrogant that he isn’t willing to take a few jabs at himself as well.

  5. Pat

    So sorry to be visiting so late…I was traveling and had a hard time reading your blog on my IPad for some reason. I loved your review of this book! While I’m not a fan of Bourdain, I respect his candor and knowledge of the restaurant industry. I now want to read this book!

    I enjoyed looking at your other reviews…love your blog!

  6. Pingback: On Food: Delicacies For The Strong Stomach | Mirth and Motivation

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