Anthony Bourdain

cooks-tour-bourdainimages  51r9UByEsYL  I have a new hero.

Chef extraordinaire, food writer and all around bad boy, Anthony Bourdain.

He wrote, in 2000, a kick-ass memoir entitled, Kitchen Confidential I found languishing on my library shelf. It was after reading the New York Times Book Review’s little weekly insert called By The Book, when they interview an author.

Gabrielle Hamilton, a well-known New York chef owning an eatery called Prune, was the invited guest. I had read her tell-all book called Blood, Bones and Butter loving every word, so when she was asked, who’s your favorite foodie, Anthony Bourdain was her chosen man.

What’s your favorite chef memoir?

How many years has it been since “Kitchen Confidential” was published? How many dozens or even hundreds of subsequent chef memoirs have littered the shelves since? Anthony Bourdain wrote the only one that matters; it’s both the Pledge of Allegiance and the national anthem of all line cooks throughout the world. I still reread it occasionally, and I still stand up and put my hand over my heart.

Since referrals are everything, I went looking for him in the Society Library’s cookbook section. There he was, all dusty between James Beard and the history of The Stork Club.

Think Johnny Depp of food…so off we rode into the horizon.

How to describe Kitchen Confidential is challenging, since it’s one of the funniest, darkest, honest…did he really say that…memoirs I have ever read.

I troll for a writer like him. Someone who shows up unabashedly naked on the page with a saucy, pun intended, smile on his face.

If you ever told me candor was the ticket to a timeless turn-on, I would have looked at you in my best Connecticut glare and said, “Where I come from, a man’s balls should stay in his pants.”

But I don’t hold that opinion any longer.

I’m besotted with him, now in the midst of Nasty Bits, a collection of essays he’s written for magazines like Gourmet and Esquire, letting those balls hang out like Xmas ornaments.

I’m thrilled there are more waiting in the wings, like A Cook’s Tour, Typhoid Mary and Medium Raw.

To find an author new to you, is like walking a beach finding gold.

I think what also amazes me, is what a great writer he is. The in-depth, detailed descriptions whether he’s speaking of food, pussy (his word), or rehab chill you to the bone.

For me this is bravery at its best.

And to think he even has his own show, No Reservations, I’ve yet to see, soars me to new heights.

For all those who love to eat, cook, travel, laugh and enjoy having the shit shocked out of you, Anthony Bourdain is your man.

Trust me on this.

SB

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About Susannah Bianchi

I'm just a girl who likes to write slightly on slant. I've had a career in fashion, dabbled in film and to be honest, I don't like talking about myself. Now my posts are another matter so I will let them speak for themselves. My eBooks, A New York Diary, Model Behavior: Friends For Life and Notes From A Working Cat can be found on Amazon.com. Thanks.
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23 Responses to Anthony Bourdain

  1. I really enjoy Parts Unknown on CNN. I have Kitchen Confidential but have yet to read it. I like Bourdain and despise him at the same time. I can’t quite put my finger in why.

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    • I’m so glad you wrote…I know what you mean…he’s thuggy but gets in your pores at the same time…and the details I am finding thrilling.
      Read Kitchen Confidential…you may still not like him, but you’ll respect his honesty. Hard to write like that.

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      • I think it’s the thuggy, don’t give a damn about anything attitude that gets me. Not that I think it’s an awful trait, but there’s something in how he carries it. He’s either a really cool guy in real life or super annoying.

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      • Good point, and who knows what the truth is. He’s got to be awfully tired. I’ve been reading these pieces he’s written after he visits a place: Singapore, New Orleans, Saigon. It’s exhausting just reading about his miles in the air.

        I do like how he holds nothing back. I have yet to see him live…maybe I’d have the same response as you…or maybe not..I do like a bad boy…what can I say 🙂

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  2. micklively says:

    You’ve caught me on the hop yet again Susannah. I must confess that I have never heard of Anthony before. Maybe he doesn’t have a transatlantic element, or maybe I’m just making excuses for my ignorance. Either way I shall keep my eyes peeled as I’m trailing the second-hand book shops in future.

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    • Do you get the Discovery Channel? I wonder if No Reservations, his show, is watched where you are. I know he’s been to England to visit whoever is cooking up a storm at the moment. You’d really like him. He’s right up your alley Mick.

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  3. skinnyuz2b says:

    I’ve heard of him, but never watched the show. I’m headed to the bookstore today anyway, so I jotted this down – Christmas present for Pookie that I will be reading afterward.

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    • Get Kitchen Confidential…that was his first and what started me on this whole thing. He tells you how he first started in the food business at around 22 in Province Town…the local fish joints..the characters he met.

      I love his self-deprecating humor. He doesn’t pull punches, even with himself. I think Skinny your husband would really enjoy him. You can buy it in paperback even.

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  4. katecrimmins says:

    Not familiar with him but will look him up.

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  5. Sounds really interesting. A chef and a writer, what a great combination. 🙂

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  6. Elle Knowles says:

    And yet another book on my TBR list. You give such great reviews!

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  7. gmg says:

    I think he’s cocky and brash…..A real turn off to me. I’ll take Eric Ripert any time…….
    gmg

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  8. pmahaney says:

    Hate to say it Susannah but I’m not really a fan of Mr. Bourdain. Maybe because he comes across as a know it all, done it all kind of fellow, and maybe he is that good. Cocky, self-assured, and confident yes, but just a tad irritating. I will say that his interaction with the people he came across in his travels on his Travel Channel program were always respectful, and I did like that about him, but he still grated on me for some reason. Perhaps I will give the book a try, maybe my opinion will change.

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    • He wrote Kitchen Confidential in 2000, and since then has more or less busted himself for his proposed arrogance, I know this because I’m already into a fifth book of his called Medium Raw written in 2010.

      He was a young whipper snapper when he penned KC, and since then, personally and I believe even professionally, has been seriously humbled.

      I think what I’m mostly attracted to is his guileless candor. I can’t quite get enough of it. He holds nothing back even if it means he looks tremendously stupid and a even little vile.

      Can’t help Pat but to admire that.

      He’s also an amazing essayist. Didn’t expect that either. I figured his prose would be all schmoozie and glib…more gossip and glitz than true lore. I haven’t seen him live, so that cockiness you speak of is lost on me presently.

      It’s always nice to hear from you, and here’s hoping all is well.

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  9. pmahaney says:

    I understand your being attracted to his forthright nature, it is a quality sadly lacking in the world today. He expresses his opinions with conviction, regardless of what anyone thinks, and in any event should be of no concern to anyone who speaks from the heart. This is another attractive trait that is worthy of compliment. True, age and maturity has a way of humbling us all, thus time may have benefited him, and we all should be so lucky. It is so easy to be critical of someone, and to be a critic of an individual I have never met, well, it leaves me feeling more than a little guilty. Thank you for your good wishes, doing well here, and I wish you a Merry Christmas Susannah! :o)

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    • I totally understand why his brashness would bother you. I don’t think you’re being such a critic…his forthrightness, to use your lovely term, is not the norm. And you’re right, it’s what attracts me the most finding it hard to be that open.

      I just finished Medium Raw, a more recent book of his…more essays…and his candor can’t help but to make you take pause. If either one of us should feel guilty about anything it’s our demureness P.

      Perfectionism…fear for being found out…you won’t think much of me if you know…are the bigger barriers I believe most of us face as writers.

      Always good to hear from you.

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    • Wanted to add something here if I may.

      Kitchen Confidential was written so long ago. And I’m betting most people have never read anything else Anthony Bourdain has written. Want to say, in quite a few essays in Nasty Bits and again Medium Raw, his last collection, he apologizes for much of what he said in his famous first memoir. He made fun of people…Emeril for one. He was arrogant, judgmental admitting he may have gone a bit too far.
      He also pulls no punches with himself, something I feel grants him a certain amount of leeway.
      I think of the 5 books I’ve read by him, the one that surprised me the most was his little historical essay about Typhoid Mary, a cook who lived and worked in a New York around 1910 vilified for spreading typhoid fever.
      I couldn’t put it down.
      For those of you whom loathe Tony, I urge you to give him another chance 🙂

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