Medium Raw: Anthony Bourdain revisits Kitchen Confidential, 10 years later

by Terry B on August 25, 2010

Chef/author/TV personality Anthony Bourdain was in Chicago recently promoting his new book. I’m still starstruck from getting to see him speak. He’s the subject of my latest post on the USA Character Approved Blog.


Anthony Bourdain is the man who scared me out of the restaurant business. Not that I was ever in it or even seriously considered trying my hand at it. But like most food-loving home cooks, I’ve had my fantasies about running a bustling little neighborhood bistro where regulars would turn up night after night to ooh and ahhh over my simply prepared meals.

Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, published ten years ago, quickly disabused me of any notion that I could—or even wanted to—cook professionally. Reading this fascinating, profane peek behind the culinary curtain into the world of restaurant kitchens was like sitting down with a brutally frank career counselor: “Yeah, it’s a crazy roller coaster ride of a business, kid, a real adventure. But seriously, you don’t have the chops for it.”

medium-raw-coverWhile Kitchen Confidential permanently frightened me away from professional kitchens, it made me admire everyone who works in them even more. So when I heard Bourdain had revisited the themes of his bestseller in his new book, Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook, and would be doing a reading at the downtown Chicago Public Library, I went.

It was a blast. Like his books, Bourdain’s conversation was filled with lively stories and liberally sprinkled with F-bombs. And he took equally great pleasure in singing the praises of sometimes obscure chefs and skewering celebrated stars of the food world. I hadn’t planned to buy the book (figured I’d get on the library waiting list). But I did buy it, in the makeshift Barnes & Noble set up in the auditorium lobby. And I happily waited in line to have him sign it with hundreds of others, all of us equally starstruck.

For more about Bourdain and his entertaining new book, Medium Raw, read this week’s USA Character Approved Blog post.


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Dani H August 25, 2010 at 11:56 pm

I’m going to have to reread “Kitchen Confidential” but I am excited about Bourdain’s new book “Medium Raw.” I almost didn’t read this post as I thought it would be a duplicate of your USA piece. Not so! I like the more personal take on his influence on you in this piece. (Loved the other piece, too.)

dick August 26, 2010 at 1:40 am

Love his writing. Also love his Les Halles cookbook. One of my favorites.

Terry B August 26, 2010 at 1:48 am

Dani—Yeah, I specifically avoid duplicating the USA material here; otherwise there’s no reason to read both. I loved Kitchen Confidential. One of my favorite parts is the very first chapter, in which he describes his first inkling as a child that food was something more than just fuel.

Dick—I haven’t read the cookbook, but have eaten at the restaurant a couple of times, before Kitchen Confidential came out and I had ever heard of Bourdain. I don’t think he’s connected with it any longer, but I certainly enjoyed my meals there.

altadenahiker August 26, 2010 at 2:42 am

Sounds like something I’d enjoy. Apparently Anthony and I have one thing in common.

Terry B August 26, 2010 at 3:12 am

The mind reels, Altadenahiker, but I’m going with liberal use of F-bombs.

Alta August 26, 2010 at 5:32 pm

I love Kitchen Confidential…and love Anthony Bourdain. Definitely adding this one to my wish list.

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