Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain


Kitchen Confidential, narrated by the author and well-known chef Anthony Bourdain is a “Don’t eat at a well-known restaurant in New York before you read this” type of book.  Anthony, in his typical dead pan style takes you through the ups and downs of his world of when you should and when you should not order seafood, why brunches and buffets are the dirty under belly of the food world, as well as good and bad relationships that go on beyond closed doors – or pointedly the kitchen. Kitchen Confidential will take you through Anthony’s rocky start in the world of white aprons and funny hats.  Through sex, drugs, and filet Mignon – the secrets of presentation and “how do I get my potatoes and chicken to stack tall like a restaurants, are all inside, if you dare to listen.



I have listened to and enjoyed Anthony Bourdain before in Medium Raw, another of his books on the adventures and pleasures of food.  Kitchen Confidential is, in my opinion, rawer than Medium Raw.  Anthony is more vulgar, or I suppose, honest in the relationships of the cooking world.  Let’s just say that in Kitchen Confidential Anthony readily admits that what he is sharing in this book could possibly get him fired…. if he is just being his sarcastic self, I do not know, but Kitchen Confidential is not for the  faint of heart.

Be sure before you enter into this read that you are committed to really wanting to know what is happening behind the kitchen wall.  Kitchen Confidential would easily receive a “R” rating if this were a TV show for language, drunks, sex and drugs.  Practices that you would probably rather not know about, but perhaps have often wondered (what do they really do with that bread plate that you did not eat?) are revealed. Yet it is not all stomach turning and checking another restaurant off your must try list.  Anthony also shares tips for your own cooking skills – sharing with the reader how not to be caught up in the chef knives industry and expense when really you only need one knife that is not a budget breaker and can do just about everything the bank breaking expensive sets do.

While I will admit that there are times Anthony Bourdain steps over the line of TMI a time or two or fourteen… I still enjoy listening to his stories.  Beyond the world of food and chefs, Anthony is also an incredible story-teller and if you can handle the truth (which some of we probably suspected) it is a dish worth trying.

20 thoughts on “Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

  1. I would love to hear Bourdain read this, it’s one hell of a ride and in my opinion is the best writing he’s done. Plus, he taught me when it was safe to order fish in restaurants and for that I am very thankful!

  2. This was Bourdain’s second book, a memoir of sorts from the “bad boy artiste”. If the Culinary Institure was more friendly to women, he and I would have graduated in the same class. Remember, this was a fairly new genre in cooking: the “warts and all method”. And in those days, by his own admission, he was a hard drinkin’, coke using bad boy. And the book reflected that. I liked “Cook’s Tour” better. Even his recipe book from Les Halles(where he was working when KC was written) kind of suffers from his lifestyle. The recipes are hard to follow, and the author info picture is airbrushed.

    There is no love lost between Scripps-Howard (Food Network) and Bourdain, who came to a parting of the ways over his abuse. It got so he was calling it in, not good for a respected chef.

    His marriage in shambles, he began to build on Cook’s Tour, taking time for intrispection and exploration. Scripps-Howard also own Travel Channel, and they gave him another chance when they gave him “No Reservations”. He got his life in gear over the run of the show, remarried, and has a ‘tween daughter now. And he knew it was time when he chose to end No Res. He’s now doing an exploring of communities on his CNN show:”Parts Unknown”.

    My *personal* opinion of Bourdain is that he’s a sexist homophobe, school in old Provincetown Portuguese beliefs. It makes for good food, but not someone I’d want in my life, and I own EVERY book the man has written

  3. I read this one but not Medium Raw. I love Bourdain though. He’s softened up a bit since getting married and having a kid but I love his “tell it like it is” bad boy persona.

  4. My first job ever was as a waitress so I saw some of a restaurant kitchen. The restaurant I worked at was very strict about health codes, though, and I know many others aren’t. When we lived in Auburn many of our friends wouldn’t let their kids work in restaurants because they were known for their drug usage. This book sounds fascinating but I’m not 100% sure I want to read it.

  5. Spot on review, dear friend! It has been a while since I read this one, but I do recall having the TMI reaction.

  6. I agree that this one is much more no-holds-barred than Medium Raw. You can definitely see how he’s matured over time if you read his books in sequence. He’s gotten away from that sex-drugs-rocknroll mentality, at least a little bit. 🙂 AB’s books are what got me into foodie nonfiction, I love his stuff!

  7. Too funny. I am watching him right now on his CNN show Part Unknown. Friday nights are my ‘blogging’ time of the week and CNN always has a marathon of his shows on. They are great if you haven’t seen them.

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