Kitchen Confidential

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The Chef’s Bookshelf: Kitchen Confidential

I can't remember the last time I read anything, online or otherwise, that wasn't food related (not including news). I thought I'd share with you my most recent reading material in an installment I will update as I aquire new books called "The Chefs Bookshelf". My most recent aquisitions were VERY long overdue. Recently having plowed through Anthony Bourdains first book, "Kitchen Confidetial: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly", I've moved on to Thomas Kellers landmark offering "The French Laundry". You all know Bourdain, and you all know his unique and very non-PC delivery by now. He is a great representation of the real working chef, unlike his other TV counterparts who all seem to be PR agents for themselves. Throwing the "f" bomb around, unaffraid to tell you when something sucks (indeed, I think he feels it his duty to), unapologetic, a bit cocky, tempermental as hell. This is the what the industry does to you, hardens you, makes you just not give two flying shits about anything accept how the plate tastes and looks as it leaves the kitchen, not a business for the easily offended. In the updated "Afterword" section he writes about how cooks and chefs that he's met in the ensuing years since he first penned the tome in question have said remarkably similar things about it, the most common being along the lines of, "dude.... you wrote my life!" I fall squarely into this category. There's little in that book that I haven't done, seen, or heard about, and those (few) accounts that I haven't been eye-witness to in my own career are not unbelievable to me in the least.... If you're a fan of Bourdain, pick this up NOW! If you want a glimpse into the high stress, almost nomadic, life of a real working chef, pick this up NOW! If you want to know the industry inside secrets, the kind of things the other corporate TV puppets would never say in public, pick this up NOW! To quote the man himself: "My friend Steven will call from Florida after yet another segment showing me grimacing at the camera and warning the dining public about the dangers of brunch. "You suck, dude," he'll say. Then he'll turn up the volume on some Billy Joel or Elton John song he's got on the radio - just because he knows how much I hate that shit." There was even a short lived fictional sitcom based on the book, and bearing the same name that represents life in the restaurant world every bit as faithfully as the book. As for The French Laundry, what do I really need to say? Thomas Keller is revered, worshiped in some cases by those of us in this "biz", his every word fawned over with cultish devotion. This book does not disappoint. Each recipe spelled out in plain English and tips inserted very intuitively for the home cooks and pros alike. The book is named after his restaurant in Yountville, CA, infamously known to be one of the top restaurants in the world. (Not to sound so particular, but Bourdain himself has said of the French Laundry, "it's best restaurant in the world... period...") The large format and vibrant photos lend much to the feeling of elegance and near OCD attention to detail Keller is so known for as well as his humble approach, a refreshing rarity among chefs of that caliber. These are both essential reads for professionals, and goldmines for foodies. Well, I've blabbed enough for now. If you have anything to add please feel free to comment. I must be heading off to work now, until next I write, live well, and eat better! Jack