Monday, October 24, 2011

Open for Suggestion

Of course, Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential is funny, even hysterically  at times.  It is filled with hyperbole of the highest order, capturing both the raw energy and stress of life as a line cook and working chef, and the monotony and boredom.  This is a life of doing the same tasks over and over again, both high-stress and numbing.  All through the book he tells us this is what is to be done in a kitchen and this is not to be done, as if it is holy writ.

Near the end, he visits the kitchen of a more accomplished colleague, and tells us, in no uncertain terms, that everything he has told us about food, running a kitchen, being the general of an army of cooks, runners, waiters, is wrong.  The rival does all the things he claims are forbidden.  His kitchen actually has waiters who help, in a pinch, plating food!  

At the end, Bourdain  realizes that his kitchen is an extension of his overtaxed and overburdened psyche.  This kind of heavy self-effacement is what keeps Kitchen Confidential from becoming a machismo  manifesto.  Bourdain is always open to criticism, from others, but especially from himself.  He is smart enough to know that in the creative world of cooking, there are plenty of people above him, often far above him.  

Ego does not drive this book, but the urge to see real creativity and professional execution at work.

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