On New Year’s Day, I was hungover at a friend’s house and looking for a light read. When I found Kitchen Confidential on his bookshelf I thought it’d be perfect. The fact that it took me seven months to finish should tell you most of what you need to know about this book.
There were certainly things I liked. I do love to cook and it was interesting to get some insight into a professional cook/chef’s world. However, I felt like the biggest problem with this book was that he didn’t know who he was writing for. Portions of the book are written as though the reader knows nothing about professional cooking and goes over some very basic information. Others are written with tons of ‘inside jokes’ and terms that the average person would not know. Come on now, you have to know your audience. There isn’t much I dislike more than inconsistency in a book.
For me, Mr. Bourdain was super annoying. He was so damn proud of himself, and even his self-deprecating humor didn’t do much to convince me that he doesn’t think he’s the most fabulous person on the earth. The prose was overly complicated and it regularly took him forever to get to the point.
The sexism, racism and homophobia in this book really rubbed me the wrong way as well. He was completely unapologetic about it and insisted that it’s just ‘the way things are’ and that these people aren’t really racist – they just say racist things all the time! Duh! I was embarrassed by the way Mr. Bourdain felt the need to fall all over himself every time there was a mention of a successful woman in the kitchen, as though a few mentions of women makes up for his sexism. It’s kind of like your neighborhood racist insisting that he’s not racist because he has himself a black friend!
All that said, there were some interesting chapters. I learned a few things and there wasn’t really a point where I considered giving up on this book. It just didn’t excite me enough to pick up on a regular basis.
Currently reading: Telex From Cuba – Rachel Kushner & Runaway – Alice Munroe