The original publication of Kitchen Confidential was released in 2000. Although I have been a big fan of Anthony Bourdain and his style of food and travel criticism, I never got around to reading the book until recently. I guess perhaps like the aging of a fine wine I was hoping that the test of time would give me a better perspective on how to interpret its contents. The book has been re-released with some additional commentary to maybe tone down the original ramblings.
This is largely an autobiography of someone who was full of passion for food but did not really get around to pulling it all together until much later in life. I suppose there is a good moral in there for all of us. He is not ashamed to tell you about his addictions to drugs, booze and cigarettes. One is actually amazed that he is someone who can still stand erect. His story is typical of one who has a great intellect, matched with a total lack of ambition, smothered by an overbearing ego. In his early career he seems to go through kitchen gigs faster than he can pop aspirin; which is actually one of his other special talents.
Mr. Bourdain was the original potty-mouthed celebrity chef. Based on his outrageous commentary in the book he landed his first television show in 2002 on the Food Network traveling around the world, trying to gross everyone out with his proclivity for eating brains and intestines. The use of shock value in the cooking world was born. Unfortunately he paved the way for Gordon Ramsay who just went one better than Bourdain. That is if you think a foul mouth is a great asset on a great chef. I bring this up because if you are at all offended by coarse language this is not a good book for you. On the other hand if you can read through all the coarse stuff you will understand that Bourdain's acting out is actually his way of expressing admiration for certain things culinary.
The book is a good culinary history spanning from the mid-1970s up until its publication in 2000. I think the post script added in the latest release does help to round out the reader's perspective. The advent of the Food Network and the increased interest in cooking has actually increased the expectation of diners. This has stopped many of the outrageous behaviors outlined in the book. And, as I would agree with Bourdain, has launched a bunch of hacks on television peddling recipes and rubs at the expense of serious cooking. So I think it is a good read. And I will continue to enjoy Bourdain's irreverence. It is based on a serious love of good food, and of course, good drink.