Kitchen Confidential
Anthony Bourdain
Contributed by Margherita Wickersham
Chapter 5

The Life of Bryan

The similarities and differences can be seen between Scott Bryan and Anthony Bourdain, mainly because they come from different backgrounds. Scott’s background motivates him to have a worker’s mind seeing that his family was not well off, while Bourdain’s family is well off and he thinks that the world revolves around him. Scott started off with an interest in engineering, but had a change of mind while in Cambridge. The culinary business motivates Bourdain from the get-go. Scott runs his restaurant differently from how Bourdain does: he is cool, calm and collected, and serves everything from scratch. His restaurant is of the three-star nature. He also prepares food meant to be paired with his wine selection. Anthony views the way the Scott kitchen works so that he can gain insight into how different kitchens work and to gain an idea or two. Bourdain, on the other hand, runs a kitchen that is loud and far from being cool and calm. Orders are virtual shouting or screaming matches, and frustration easily describes his mood while at work. He thinks this is the reason why he has not landed three stars. In other restaurants and their preferences, they have similar choices for the food offered, and this is a motivating topic for both of them.

Mission to Tokyo

Bourdain is sent off to the Tokyo branch of Les Halles by his boss, Philippe, to help with updating the menu items. After enduring a long flight to Japan, he visits the Les Halles restaurant in Tokyo on the same evening. Bourdain describes it as smaller, but much cleaner, and well kept. Given that he is to spend a week in Tokyo, he schedules time for a press conference to help with getting the book out there. He gets to interact with the Japanese and see, first-hand, the significant differences between how they carry themselves as compared to typicale Americans. He eventually gets a hang of how to get around Japan with his boss and showing him a good seafood eating place, where they can — to each of their surprise — gobble up several types of seafood. Bourdain helps out the chef at Les Halles with scaling down portions and improving presentation following the Japanese beliefs. The Japanese people have a lot of respect for each other, to the point of not having committed crimes on the streets of Japan. The fish market in Japan is much bigger and better than the one near Les Halles in New York. Japan has a very active night-life, courtesy of primarily teenagers and businessmen. Philippe and Bourdain have their final together in Japan the night before traveling, lacking the motivation to leave following the many adventures he wanted to go on.

So You Want to be a Chef? A Commencement Address

Bourdain starts off by discouraging people who do not have chefdom as their first choice or those who are unsure about whether they want to get into the restaurant business. He also discourages those who are used to having 9-hour days with their evenings and weekends free. Bourdain, however, encourages those that are motivated to work long hours and not take offense at people who spew ugly words from their mouths to join the culinary world. He provides them with sound advice, broken down into fourteen points, which have to do with building one’s character towards culinary capabilities and improving upon what the culinary world provides.

Kitchen’s Closed

Anthony Bourdain describes his experiences in the restaurant business and how they have shaped him; like the cuts and bruises on his hands, which have left marks to be remembered for  times to come. Bourdain is not sure about how long he will be working as a chef, let along working at Les Halles. As much as he does not understand people, he very well understands food. He is not sure about whether some of the previous restaurants he has worked in are still standing or have been closed down. The people Bourdain has worked with throughout the times have been instrumental, with some leaving and others staying, and even those choosing to move away entirely from the restaurant business. Bourdain plans on sticking around until he has had enough (Orwell & Paterson, 2012).


Bourdain, in this chapter manages to provide advice to people who are motivated to prepare food the restaurant-way. He uses this as a platform to show his readers that they can ace food preparation just like people in the restaurant business can while sharing the skills he has gained along the way as a way to benefit others. Bourdain also manages to share his experiences in foreign countries with his readers as a way of growing his culinary skills, appetite and growth in the field. The visit to Japan, for instance, can also be viewed as a way of showing that one’s skills can be used for one to make strides in their line of work as long as they are passionate about it. This is an encouragement to the readers who may be people in the culinary world and those not in it. Bourdain is able to identify the impact that the different experiences he has had in different restaurants have had on him.

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