Anthony Bourdain

Discussion in 'Cookbook Reviews' started by chefdee, Dec 2, 2001.

  1. chefdee

    chefdee

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    Anthony Bourdain's book Kitchen Confidential is a great book and doesn't candy coat anything, tells it how it really is. I recommend this book to anyone and always do when someone asks me what a good culinary book is. I hate it when someone candy coats something that really shouldn't be and he doesn't dso that at all. Anthony i think that you did a job well done on the book and you went through a lot to get where you are now. Thank you for sharing your experiences with everyone. I wish you could come to my school and speak because my fellow students and I liek it when someone keeps it real. They would love to hear your stories and everything. Once again thnaks for the great book and can't wait till I can read the next one andsee the movie.
     
  2. greg

    greg

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    Chefdee, get a hold of his new book, definitely! So good I went to work on not much sleep for a couple of days because I stayed up too late reading. Hopefully, he will go on another tour, once again "shamelessly flogging" the book. If so, he'd better come to the Twin Cities! I do kind of have a bone to pick with him, though, about a comment he made about my home state, Wisconsin! He almost always says good things about sous chefs and his job description for "executive chef" gave me ammo to pick on my chef, so it's really not that big a deal. I would like to show him what is really getting midwestern kids fat, though, and I believe he'd enjoy the education as it involves various pork and beef products to his apparent liking. :D
     
  3. jill reichow

    jill reichow

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    Greg, off topic, but I totally agree on the number of heavy young people in the Twin Cities. Born and raised in Mpls., but now living in DC. I was just home in November, and was distressed by the number of teens that I saw that were so heavy....of course I ate my share of cheese curds when I was home:D I seem to notice more of this in the midwest than I am seeing here in VA.
     
  4. greg

    greg

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    Yes, it's definitely a problem here and in the surrounding area. Where I disagree with Chef Bourdain is the cause of it. I believe he attributed it to twinkies, ho-ho's and processed cheese, the latter of which is nearly tantamount to a criminal statement to me. I was born and raised in Wisconsin; American cheese has one use, in my mind-grilled cheese sandwiches. Also, while diet is certainly a big part of the problem, there's more to it than just that. Long, sedentary winters spent in front of a Sony playstation instead of exercising, for example.
     
  5. athenaeus

    athenaeus

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    Today to my great surprize I saw on the bookselves of the biggest bookstore of Athens "Kitchen Confidential" translated in Greek!!!
    I have to assure you that rarely books of this kind are translated into my language . Let's see if Greeks are going to read this book.

    The translation of the title is exact but it doesn't sound so impressive in Greek as it does in English.
     
  6. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    While I was growing up in the 60's we played baseball and ditch 'em all summer long. We even surfed...waves, real waves. Nowadays kids today do nothing but surf the net and their interactive skills are poor. Another thirsty two ouncer, please!
     
  7. chiffonade

    chiffonade

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    I'm sorry to report but the Twin Cities area is not the only place with a weight problem :(.

    I live in the 4 Corners region and obesity here is nearly a way of life. There is a large Indian population here and their predisposition to hang onto poundage seems to be genetic. Like other cultures who have forgone manual labor for a more sedentary life, I'm afraid they're paying a high health price.

    Do you know it's nearly impossible to find an exercise class here? I love food and enjoy both its preparation and consumption but I know I have to expend those calories. I'm exercising alone now to a tape but I would have loved to do an exercise class. Not enough people here are interested in not looking how they look.

    I guess another aspect of this phenomenon in certain areas is weather. Obesity seems rampant in places with tough, cold winters. I guess in Florida, all that bathing-suit-weather is conducive to watching your weight.
     
  8. greg

    greg

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    Great topic for discussion!! Let's move this part of the discussion to the Nutrition forum.

    Back to Bourdain, now. Athenaeus, if and when possible, can you read the translation? It would be interesting to hear how that book comes across in Greek. Also, congratulations to Anthony! It's a great compliment to any writer when their works are available translated. Much deserved, I'd say.
     
  9. athenaeus

    athenaeus

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    I was having in mind that Greg! :)
    I hope many Greeks read this book because here in Athens we have a lot of fashion victims that they think that they know everything about kitchen and chefs...
    I will post my comments about the translation just for the records of the Forum !

    :)
     
  10. kokopuffs

    kokopuffs

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    Chiffonade:

    It's the Piman Indians in that region that have, unfortunately, the highest per capita incidence of obesity and diabetes in the world. It probably would have been best for supermarkets not to move into the region and let the tribe continue their hunter/gatherer existence - an existence which allows for much sparser eating habits.
     
  11. chiffonade

    chiffonade

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    We have Utes here and Navajos. The Navajos seem to be the heavier of the two tribes but I know some Utes that have the box-shaped bodies which pack on weight in the midsection - the worst place to store fat. (All you "pears" out there, thank God you're bottomheavy.)

    What I've observed is that they did not curb their eating habits to accommodate their more sedentary lifestyle. They enjoy mutton which has an enormous amount of fat and they have a penchant for fried foods that rivals no one. They seem to offer no resistance to bad foods, assuming that because they've "always eaten them" that they're OK now.
     
  12. suzanne

    suzanne

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    Seems to me this thread has gotten WAY off-topic. If you MUST discuss the eating habits/body type/poverty of those particluar indigenous peoples, at least first read the research done by Dr. Leslie Olmstead of the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. She has done several scientific studies of that segment of the American population.

    Now, how about getting back to Chef Tony? I was having a post-work glass of wine at the bar at Les Halles tonight, and overheard him telling the "killing the Mexican turkey" story just as he did in the new book. It was no more engaging live than on paper. I have issues with all of his books that I've read (missed Bone in the Throat and Typhoid Mary), having to do with his attitude(s) and writing ability, and the books' editing or lack thereof. While I think he gets closer than many to the reality of the professional kitchen, his reality only partly overlaps with mine or that of anyone else I know. I admire him for getting noticed and being given the chance to say what he says. But just as any TV chef is not a fair depiction of what it's really like to be a chef, neither are his depictions the ultimate in genuineness. Entertaining, yes; to be swallowed whole, no.
     
  13. greg

    greg

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    Yes, this has definitely gotten off-track. Could everyone please continue discussion of the obesity topic in the thread I started in the Nutrition forum a few days ago, if you would. :)

    Thanks for the post, Suzanne. It's always refreshing to hear from those professionals that don't enjoy his work. My own career has shared some parallels with his, so I tend to identify with his version of our life and job more. But, even never having met the man or worked in NYC, I could see where someone could have an issue with his attitude(s).
     
  14. athenaeus

    athenaeus

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    An article in todays newspaper about " Kitchen Confidential" reminded me that I promised to tell you about the Greek translation.

    The translation in Greek was very good and from what I found out, the book sold really well.

    BUT. If I were Anthony Bourdain I would write a second book with the title :

    " What stupid Journalists wrote about my book"...
     
  15. suzanne

    suzanne

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    To a very small extent, that's what A Cook's Tour -- In Search of the Perfect Meal is about (the book about making the TV show, which hasn't even started running yet).

    As with his others, I had problems with this one as well -- but in this case the problems may be due more to the publisher, who IMO rushed the book to market in order to hit the Xmas selling period, and generate interest in the show. Just some sloppy editing, and repetitive chapters instead of covering new ground. After all, it's only his business if he couldn't do his job because he was too drugged-out -- well, at least he was aware of it, and wasn't holding a knife at the time. BTW, friends of mine who recently spent time in Vietnam confirm the glories of the food and the people there.

    And in response to Greg: I do "enjoy" his books. They're quite entertaining, as they are meant to be. And there are many true bits in them. I just don't want readers to think they are a totally accurate picture of the whole industry. That would be as false a conclusion as thinking that Emeril's cooking shows depict the real life of a working chef.
     
  16. greg

    greg

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    Suzanne, sorry I mis-understood you. He does at least say as much himself about his life being an accurate (or in-accurate) picture of the industry in the chapter on Scott Bryan. I definitely agree with you on A Cook's Tour . Entertaining and informative, but with a funky flow to it.
     
  17. athenaeus

    athenaeus

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    This book doesn't candy coat anything indeed.

    I hope that I am wrong, but I think that this book, in the long term, will harm the business a lot and above all it will harm its author badly.
    I think that it was not very smart from the part of the culinary world to embrace this book, but this is of course my opinion and I repeat : I wish I am wrong.

    I am sorry that many professionals recognised themselves in this book.I wish things were different.

    I have a bitter taste in my mouth though, because none will ever write a book about the decent characters that has met and they actually exist in the kitchen.
    About the people that ,although they work 10-12 hours under conditions you all know, they never do drugs and they never get drunk.
    About the people , the men I mean, that instead of whispering you something dirty in the ear, they narrate you the last achivement of their kid.
    About the people that instead of locking themselves in the WC with a couple of others that stink from sweat and alchohol( I have worked in London, I am sorry, 3 is the usually number for such a party...) to have a 5 min ( 5 min?? I think I say too much...) sex session they go jog or excercise to let the steam off...

    The bright and clean ( under any perspective) side of the kitchen seems to be very confidential indeed...


    :)
     
  18. anneke

    anneke

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    Athenaeus: that would not have made a very interesting book.... I don't think Bourdain would have written a book that would have made him look like Martha Stewart; can't compete with the goddess of kitchen capitalism!

    Anyway, here's what I have observed from my own experience: I have worked in 2 very different restaurants this year. The first kitchen was run by an older (54-50) alcoholic sous-chef. It was staffed with thirty-something cooks. They were all a tad disillusioned, moody, drunk whenever they could and were not unacquainted with drugs. Most were too ugly to get laid, but you never know. For the most part, sex in the washrooms usually involved the guests, not the staff.

    In the second place where I worked, the staff is much younger: 19-24. (I feel like their mother!) The behaviour is much different. Only one is on his way to alcoholism (again the sous) and the others are shocked if one of them actually gets some action. There's the occasional joint inthe storeroom/changing room, but beyond that it's pretty clean. Only one indiscretion at the staff Christmas party, but it didn't go beyond what 12 year olds do at the school dance if you know what I mean. Go figure; I'm starting to think the younger generations are ashamed of their parents and are going back to being 'old fashioned'. It's kind of cute and refreshing. Or maybe it's just too taxing to be wild and shocking in this age of laissez-faire and liberalism...

    The point being that the landscape is changing and Bourdain's kind might just be going the way of the dinosaur.
     
  19. athenaeus

    athenaeus

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    Yes Anneke, I know I know what you mean and I understand what the author wanted to show.

    All I was suggesting was that you cannot satisfy your hunger by eating your flesh and you cannot satify your thirst by drinking your blood.

    Just a question which is not a rhetorical one ( I really wonder about this)

    Do you think that the reality described in the book exists only in the kitchens of the States?

    Kitchen is a long story in France and London and Milan.
    Are those kitchens perfect?
    Of course not.

    So why you think we didn't have so far a book of this kind discribing the French Reality?

    Maybe because a Martha Stewart wouldnt make a carrer in France...
     
  20. anneke

    anneke

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    I bet such books have been written Athenaeus, but are harder to find as their authors have obviously not reached Bourdain's notoriety. Are there no memoir of great chefs out there? I'm also willing to bet that there are 'copycat' Bourdain-style books cropping up all over the world as we speak.

    I suspect that hotel kitchens and European kitchens each have their own culture, very different from what Bourdain describes in his book. I would be interested in hearing from people who have worked in either...