Kitchen Confidential
Anthony Bourdain
Contributed by Margherita Wickersham
Chapter 4

A Day in the Life

In the new restaurant he is working at, Bourdain is the head chef, and it is a Friday. This means that there is a lot to be done. He has to get to work in good time, go through the previous night’s activities and updates, and complaints. He has to wait for the supplies to be delivered, attend meetings then take the waiters through tasting before serving. Bourdain, together with his team, takes on food preparations for the menu list of the day. The preparations are done for serving lunch and the dinner specials. It is a rush during lunch hour and running out of tomatoes is not an option at this point. Service during lunch hour goes on well, and he has to go to the market with the boss, picks up a few things to help prepare the dinner menu. Later on, preparations kick off and another tasting for the evening waiters is conducted. As is the norm on Friday night, the rush has kicked in, and orders stream into the kitchen. Food preparation is going well, a few meals are returned, and changes are made. Bourdain does not make it out of the restaurant by 10 p.m. as earlier planned. By the time he is sitting down for a drink, it is already 1 a.m., while he is supposed to be at work by 7:30 a.m.


Bourdain explains the close relationship he shares with his sous chef, Steven, for the last five or six years. He tells of the travel adventures that they had, where he would pull him along whenever an opportunity arises. Supper Club was their first meeting point; Bourdain was not impressed with Steven’s bad behavior and the way he spoke at times, which led him to be ousted three or so times. Later, they became good workmates, or partners, in the kitchen with Bourdain as chef and Steven as sous-chef. From then on, any new opportunities arising would lead to the two stringing each other along. Steven is one person who could get close to anyone and had a good understanding of everything that was going on in the kitchen, as well as the lives of others. Bourdain can have a lot of things within the kitchen done with Steven’s help. Steven is known for pretty food preparations and having multiple ways of having them prepared. He works at any station, seeing the importance of helping out wherever he can. Steven is closer to Bourdain that Bourdain’s wife is to him.

The Level of Discourse

Bourdain explains the uniqueness of the restaurant kitchen. This can be seen in the language and the jargon applied in everyday communications within the kitchen, which may not be easily understood by most people in general, but inversely easier for the crew. This means that on top of understanding each other, with the foul language applied, one may not take offense, unless it is a person who is not part of and has not worked with the team. No bias is applied during communication in the kitchen, which means that one’s background does not come into scrutiny at any point, nor it is to be discussed. In short, if one cannot stand the heat, it is better for them to exit the kitchen.

Other Bodies

The kitchen and the restaurant, in general, have people with brilliant minds who also work hard behind the scenes. The runner is one of these. They are expected to keep the chef updated on the number of people visiting the restaurant, deliver the food to customers, and have an understanding and pronunciation of the menu items being served. They should be able to inform the chef of what is going on in the dining area so that the kitchen can stay informed on how to go about the service. The night porter is the one left behind after the services to customers have been provided. He is required to clean the restaurant at the end of closing. This is an opportunity for them to illegitimately claim items left behind by customers and staff and exchange it for money. They are not overseen by anyone, since no one is motivated to be left behind and check on him; a lot of trust is placed in him. The bartender is another person who has a good relationship between the kitchen and the bar, seeing that the chef and those working in the kitchen may ask for drinks, while the bartender will expect food sent to them, and good food for that matter. Like sous-chefs, bartenders are best preferred to be able to easily travel with the chef when moving from one restaurant to the next.

Adam Real-Last name-Unknown

Adam has been a baker in various restaurant businesses, including at Bourdain’s and Jimmy Sears’. He is said to have a great gift in baking that leads to beautiful and amazing baked goods. As much as he has been said to be greatly talented, he falls short, just like how any other human being and their shortcomings, by leaving the kitchen dirty after having worked in it. Adam has been heard and seen to be violent, a good liar, yet — more importantly — one who knows what he wants in baked goods. This leads to amazing work in the baked area. He has been employed and laid off several times, by both Bourdain and Jimmy. Adam has been said to sue previous owners, including Jimmy, to help him gain extra money, for whichever reason he sees best to suit the situation. Customers are, however, always impressed by his bread and pastry creations and appreciate the efforts behind them. 

Department of Human Resources

One of Bourdain’s friends fires a person who is part of the kitchen staff, a cook. Shortly after, the same cook takes his own life. Bourdain’s friend is of the thought that he is the one behind the death of this person.

Bourdain shares how the motivation to work according to the chef’s commands is required; however, it is the person’s responsibility to take care of themselves by also ensuring that they do not remain sensitive to remarks made against them. In the case of his friend, for instance, Bourdain views this as the cook’s responsibility, as opposed to his friend’s. Anthony, however, despite this view, is very protective of his crew within the kitchen walls and would rather be booted out than having everyone else experience harm.


Bourdain has used this chapter as an eye opener for those people interested in joining the culinary industry. The amount of pressure and commitments that one has to meet are all provided in the chapter. He uses this platform to provide guidance to potential chefs on what to expect and how they are expected to conduct themselves so that they conduct their work to fulfillment. How a chef is supposed to conduct himself or herself in the kitchen is key as this is how the rest of the crew will learn from them and will be impactful in their line of work. He provides as much detail as a day’s work and the various activities that one ought to engage in, in order to ensure that food is served to the diners. It is a chapter that seeks to show what Bourdain holds as important in a chef’s life and the significance of customers to the chef. The amount of effort that goes into the work as a way of mentally preparing potential chefs, together with how best to learn the skills and abilities required to see customers happy. As much as he delves into the focus on their conduct and importance of customers, Bourdain also points out the importance of not taking offence from the language used in the kitchen but embracing it as part of their skill and functioning in the kitchen.

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