I like Anthony Boudain’s travel show ‘No Reservations’ because he’s gutsy, funny, straight-up and sometimes sarcastic with interesting insights into the places he visits. His NYT bestselling memoir ‘Kitchen Confidential’ was no different. It’s also straight-up, funny and full of interesting tales from his life as a chef mainly in New York as well as France and Tokyo.
1. I found Boudain’s insights into restaurant world in New York interesting because it actually sounded a little like investment banking with the long hours and stressful, competitive, male-dominated environment. Although the people in Boudain’s world are quite different to a typical investment bank with Bourdain’s colleagues ranging from ex-cons to members of the Italian mafia to fresh-off-the-boat immigrants from various parts of South America….
2. Bourdain also talks about the realities of running a succesful restaurant and how it can easily turn into a disaster when the dentist or lawyer who makes amazing meals for his friends tries to run a restaurant. He says it’s not that easy. It’s competitive and rough and advises not to give up your day job to open a restaurant just because your friends think you’re a good cook…. Which I think is very good advice.
3. There is also a useful chapter about kitchen knives and ingredients to make your dishes restaurant-quality (like real butter, cream and shallots etc).
4. I also learned not to order fish on Monday as it’s usually delivered on the previous Friday which is why it’s cheaper.
Some chapters felt a bit long and drawn out but it was still a good read. I particularly enjoyed one of his last chapters about his Tokyo trip which was written like an episode of ‘No Reservations’.
I recommend watching Bourdain’s TV show first and if you like it, read the book. I thought it was pretty good.