I’m a sucker for food-related memoirs, so I was really excited to read Heat. Behind the scenes at Mario Batali’s famous restaurant Babbo?? Awesome!
The book itself? Mostly awesome. I loved the parts where he’s in Batali’s kitchen. I liked the parts where he’s in Italy. Put it together and overall I really liked the book.
Years ago I worked in an upscale restaurant, and his depiction of the kitchen rang completely true. His descriptions of the chefs and line cooks and dishwashers and everyone involved in the restaurant brought back lots of memories – some good, some not-so-good, and some hilarious.
If you don’t have any experience with a professional kitchen or kitchen staff, let me just warn you: it can be crude. And profane. The book isn’t for you if off-color remarks will bother you.
A highly acclaimed writer and editor, Bill Buford left his job at The New Yorker for a most unlikely destination: the kitchen at Babbo, the revolutionary Italian restaurant created and ruled by superstar chef Mario Batali. Finally realizing a long-held desire to learn first-hand the experience of restaurant cooking, Buford soon finds himself drowning in improperly cubed carrots and scalding pasta water on his quest to learn the tricks of the trade. His love of Italian food then propels him on journeys further afield: to Italy, to discover the secrets of pasta-making and, finally, how to properly slaughter a pig. Throughout, Buford stunningly details the complex aspects of Italian cooking and its long history, creating an engrossing and visceral narrative stuffed with insight and humor.
If you liked Heat, you might also like Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, but I will warn you that there is a lot of profanity in that book. It’s a book that I liked, but am hesitant to recommend without a lot of caveats.
To see all the books featured in 31 Days of Great Nonfiction Reads, go to the series page.
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