Hipstamatic Tony Bourdain, outside the Liberty Hotel, Boston 2011
Anthony Bourdain, to me, is an inspiration, a fabulously reckless human and a fascinating chef. Through his memoir, Kitchen Confidential, the reader is given a clear picture of his childhood, how he got started, every twist of fate, hire, fire, raunchy tid-bit, near miss, a decade of drugs, and how working incredible hard alongside perseverance has lead him to iconic-like status. In three hundred an eleven pages, Anthony eloquently describes his career as a young chef, as an influential adolescent, a seedy twenty something, and a maturing chef in a long line of jobs, owners, mob bosses, and competing comrades.
I was particularly fascinated at Tony’s descriptions and desire to portray exactly what working kitchen life is like; he doesn’t hold back! All the crude things that have and will happen in a walk-in, the competition among chefs, the need for a ‘thick-skin’, and most of all, the heart and soul of well oiled brigade. He wants his readers to know just how much, blood, sweat, and tears go into such a profession.
Tony sums up his thoughts by reflecting on his own past, the people he’s met, and the comfort of coming out on top from a rather tumultuous career. He feels surprised, and lucky to have had such great jobs in some of New York’s best restaurants, under some of the finest restaurateurs, and some-not-so-fine chef/owners.
This book reaffirmed just how excited I am to get on the line in a fast paced, well executed kitchen. It taught me that there are going to be really hard times, stressful situations, great expectations, and idiot owners, but also extremely rewarding days, the kind that continue to fuel my excitement for creative food and make it all worth it! As long as I can maintain a balance for myself, keep my drive, and be willing to learn; I will always find excitement in food. I look at this memoir as somewhat of a ‘what-not-to-do guide’. In his own opinion he lays out the annoyances, backstabbing, and laziness that can cause major frustration in a kitchen. He also talks about being a valuable team player, an innovator, and a dependable chef, which are key things to keeping job, or being asked to join an even better team. As I start my new beginning in life, I will always remember this book, and draw upon his experiences to shape my own.
I’ll be personally meeting Chef Tony B and Chef Eric Ripert on March 4th.. an experience of a lifetime and a lengthy blog post to come! If you could meet a professional/celebrity chef, what would you ask them?