Kitchen Confidential
Anthony Bourdain
Contributed by Margherita Wickersham
Chapter 2

Who Cooks?

Bourdain begins to articulate the faces and the people behind the meals served in restaurants. Line cooks are the focus in this case, where he goes on to give details on what works, and what does not, for him in his kitchen. He has a greater preference for non-Americans to help out in the kitchen, while at the same time climbing up the ladder slowly and avoiding Americans who believe they are entitled to what they ask for. This leaves only a few Americans that Bourdain will work with, even while traveling. Line cooks have a certain way of conducting themselves within the kitchen, as well as having things done their way, so to avoid possible confrontations due to their working stylep. The chef prefers craftsmen to artists, since the former are those thought to be persistent and professional as opposed to the entitled artists.

From our Kitchen to your Table

How chefs and cooks around the world go about preparing food is the focus of this subchapter. Bourdain gives us an inside look into how chefs operate. Tuesdays and Thursdays are said to be the best days for ordering seafood in a good restaurant. Fridays and Saturdays are considered okay; however, the chefs are said not to give much attention to the food that is being served to its dining customers. Sundays and Mondays are considered to be the worst days to order seafood, as this means that the chefs are looking for ways to get rid of the remaining stock; or where the B-team chefs are the ones in charge as opposed to the senior line cooks. Bourdain has his likes and dislikes when it comes to commercial restaurants, where he encourages the reader to take on challenges such as having street food, especially in other countries given how the person may only be there once in their lifetime. Any day of the week would work for this person, who has a feel for delectable food.

How to Cook like the Pros

Bourdain gives the people who crave the ability to cook like professionals tips and tricks on what to do and how to do it. It is clear that there is little to no difference between what one has stocked at home as compared to commercial restaurants. He makes it clear that he enjoys home-cooked meals over the restaurant food he is so used to. A chef’s knife is an ideal go-to for an individual striving to become a professional. A flexible boning knife and an offset serrated knife are other important knives, if need be, that one might want to have. A plastic squeeze is another item that the aspiring cook might consider having to help with plating and squeezing out sauces. Toothpicks come in handy as well during plating. A metal ring can be used to make food appear elongated in the presentation. A rotary cold-cut slicer is another important tool that can be put into use. Saucepans that are effective to use are the non-stick, heavyweight types.

To make food fresh and delectable, fresh ingredients ought to be used to help enhance the flavor of the food. Shallots, butter, garlic, chiffonaded parsley, stock, and demi-glaces are all go-to ingredients an aspiring professional chef should always have. He even goes ahead as to share a recipe that has been greatly appreciated by his customers at a two-star New York restaurant.

Owner’s Syndrome and Other Medical Anomalies

Restaurant ownership is the focus of this subchapter. Bourdain gives the readers a glimpse into how the restaurant business can be an absolute nightmare, and especially so if the driving force is misled or misconstrued. The motivation behind going into the restaurant business is nothing other than the owner’s ego, with their hunger for attention by the people and proving critics wrong. People who are clueless about the restaurant business may get into it just for the sake of leaving an impression on others when it all ends in chaos, given the impending losses that are already lining up. Those who manage to conduct restaurant businesses well enough are those who know what they are doing; they know what they want from this business, the cost that they are going to face, and where their capabilities lie. They do not focus on getting into businesses that might run them down just for the sake of testing the waters. Such people do not just get into the restaurant or bar business because of the rumour that it is a money-making venture. On the other hand, the business owners who are in it for the sake of love do not last in the business, as motivation lies in the love as opposed to fully knowing what they want from the business. Bourdain shares the story about the man that got him to be disciplined in the restaurant business, with regard to showing professionalism through keeping time, working under stress, and working long days. This man also taught Bourdain about the running of a restaurant business and doing it right. This has made it possible for him to hold on to his professionalism till the very end.


Bigfoot was the man that contributed greatly to the man that Bourdain became in the restaurant business. He enjoyed playing dumb even though he had an understanding of all that was going on in his restaurant and bar, and in the companies supplying the various products he was in need of. He also knew where to get the most affordable products that were of good quality. The man categorized the capabilities of his chefs in individual books. Bourdain landed a job with Bigfoot ten years after he left, and the amount of trust that Bigfoot had in him ensured that he came for the job. Bigfoot made sure that all who worked with him could do anything and everything pertaining to the restaurant business. He did not need to call people on the outside, such as specialists, to deal with issues. He upholds character far above any skills or employment history one might have as it is the definitive factor. He had the ability to turn untrustworthy people into those who could be trusted. Bigfoot would also ensure that the suppliers would never shortchange him for what he had paid, whether it is the timely supplying of goods or sourcing quality supplies.

Timing, whether for a supplier or staff, was supposed to be highly considered. The staff was supposed to report to work 15 minutes early or get fired, while the suppliers had to deliver their supplies in good time or take them back. He was able to tell when anything and everything were happening in his restaurant and bar, including when a person was ready to quit following the man’s unpleasantness, which he would use to his advantage to bring back the person through gifting them.

Bourdain takes on the efficient running of his business from Bigfoot, which has led to success.


In this chapter, Bourdain manages to identify the various roles people play in a restaurant kitchen. With this identification, the readers have knowledge of what they ought to expect, especially if they are potential chefs or cooks in the kitchen. This includes the skills and knowledge that they ought to have to help steer them ahead. Bourdain makes sure that such people get an understanding of what they are expected to do as a way to mentally prepare them before taking on the job or to provide advice and information to those people who are already in the industry. Potential diners or customers are also advised on the days that they should visit restaurants for various types of food so that they may avoid disappointment. This is a good way of helping the masses appreciate good food. Bourdain also shares about how to prepare food professionally in a way that people can practice at home. This is in itself a way of advising people of how best to prepare food professionally in simpler ways. The skills, utensils and expectations are shared in detail to help equip the potential restaurant or home chef. This chapter is therefore, instrumental to those people looking to learn the basics of a professional kitchen.

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