Kitchen Confidential
Anthony Bourdain
Contributed by Margherita Wickersham


Anthony Bourdain’s bestselling memoir gives readers a glimpse into his life prior to his rise as a world-renowned chef. The motivating factors behind his life’s choices are well addressed through his desire to grow and improve his culinary talent. The author shares the most impactful moments of his career with his readers. He also identifies those who were instrumental to his career in various ways. In the beginning of the book, Bourdain brings his readers all the way back to the start of his culinary journey. A dining experience with his parents furthered his curiosity in the culinary world. Although he maintains his passion for the culinary world throughout his childhood, his stubborn personality, along with his involvement with drugs, became extremely problematic. However, a summer job in Provincetown, MA enabled him to have his first real experience in preparing meals for customers. During this time, besides advancing his culinary skills, Bourdain realised how many of his fellow chefs or sous-chefs have carefree attitudes, and a sense of freedom, which furthered his appeal in regard to the occupation of a chef. Working under demanding people consequently toughens his skin. During this time, he promised himself that he will attend the Culinary Institute of America — and in doing so, he hopes to prove those who thought of him as spoiled wrong. As a CIA culinary arts alumni, he was able to gain further culinary experience as he moved from one job to the next. The choices made along the way are mostly based on the chef’s hunger for money, which quickly made him one of the best in the culinary world. He settles as the executive chef for a good restaurant and dishes out great meals to the public. The book is full of advice for those who are looking to get into the culinary world and how to grow within it. It also contains discouragement for those who are not fully motivated.

Historical and Current Context

Kitchen Confidential is a book written in the year 2000 by the renowned chef, producer and television personality, Anthony Bourdain. It details the chef’s life in the restaurant business for more than 20 years. It is a non-fictional book that portrays the ups and downs in the life of a chef, with particular emphasis on their demanding and long hours. nThis book not only gives a glimpse into the life of a chef in his restaurant kitchen, but also serving as a chef’s memoir. With the intense experiences presented in the commercial kitchen, the life that Bourdain takes on in the years building up his career is also a clear indication of the immense pressures in this profession. The chef explains how he copes with such pressures by making wrong and detrimental choices. In pursuing his dream in the kitchen, he succumbs to drugs. On top of exploring many intense and uncomfortable experiences, the book further details the satisfaction that comes with pursuing what has been described as a “love affair.”

Like every coin, the restaurant business has two sides. Bourdain carefully explains the multi-dimensional aspect of a restaurant kitchen by letting the public in on the secret life behind it. Anthony Bourdain’s writing is influenced by George Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London from 1933. Bourdain’s book borrows from the tone and themes of Orwell’s masterpiece, where he looks into the life of the restaurant business in Paris during the 1920s. Orwell was able to establish himself after the book became a bestseller following positive reviews by the general public. Thus, the book allowed the author to rise to celebrity status for his tell-all ability. Following the demise of Anthony Bourdain, the book had risen to the second-most read on Amazon’s charts, with 2,653 customer reviews. Not only has the book earned him positive reviews and an increased pool of readers, but it has also won him awards including the “2008 Silver Spoon Award” by Food Arts.

Author’s Biography

Anthony Bourdain was born on the 26th of June, 1956 to a The New York Times staff editor, Gladys Sacksman, and a Columbia Records executive, Pierre Bourdain. Born in New York City, he met his demise on the 8th of June, 2018 in Strasbourg, France from suicide. He was a television personality, producer, author, and chef. Following the career path of his parents, Bourdain became interested in literature and rock music. He then went on to graduate from the Culinary Institute of America in 1978 following his two-year attendance at Vassar College. Bourdain was then able to take on the running of several, well-respected restaurants in New York. With the kitchen as a source of inspiration, he was able to dive into the sea of writing, where his expertise were seen in Bone in the Throat (1995) and Gone Bamboo (1997).

As the Brasserie Les Halles in New York City, he had an article published in The New Yorker touching on the ugly side of life in the restaurant kitchen. His engagement in drug use throughout his youth took a toll on him as well as those around him. This led to the creation of Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly (2000). Not only was there focus on the ugly truths of the restaurant business, but there were also personal details on the life he led as a chef. He gives insight on the pressures brought forth by the life he had already embraced. With success gained from the book, a travel show was born called “A Cook’s Tour” (2002–2003). It was then made into a cable program known as “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations” from 2005 until 2012. His memoir was also turned into a sitcom which ran between 2005 and 2006.

Following the newfound fame, “Tony”, as he was normally called, managed to become a frequent “Top Chef” judge. He also made an appearance on the animated show, “The Simpsons”. Bourdain was able to bring people together throughout the world with the use of culinary arts, where food acted as the proverbial glue among people. His fame took him far and wide while still being able to enjoy his first love, food. Between 2011 and 2013, another travel show, courtesy of Anthony Bourdain, sprang up. “The Layover” entailed the chef focusing on a specific destination for 24-48 hours. At this point, Anthony was making it big. From 2013 to 2015, he became a judge on a show called “The Taste”. With a zeal and thirst for information, Anthony took on another television show that was sponsored by CNN and known as “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” (2013–2018). The show provided viewers with an exorbitant amount of information on food from various countries around the world. His success in sharing gems of the culinary world and culture led to his achievement of various Emmy Awards. The show came to a halt following his demise in June of 2018.

Bourdain wrote a cookbook, Appetites (2001), which was co-authored by Laurie Woolever. The other books that he managed to write were Bobby Gold (2001), In Search of the Perfect Meal (2001), The Nasty Bits: Collected Varietal Cuts, Usable Trim, Scraps and Bones (2006), and Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook (2010). Undoubtedly, he has made an incredible impact on the world of food.

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