Last night with a full glass of Shiraz, I downloaded Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential on my Kindle Paper White that I had finally found buried under a jumble of clothes in my dresser's topmost drawer and I settled in to read.
Well into it now, I am having so much fun -- it's the narration in Parts Unknown: funny, interesting, a study in kitchen culture. Stories of interesting chefs in P-Town, or an obnoxious would-be broiler cook in a blue Pierre Cardin suit and blue shoes (Anthony Bordain, himself, starting out) auditioning miserably for a kitchen role aside a "gargantuan" chef with claw-like burned hands, among kitchen staff who would ultimately make fun of him -- call him Mel for mal carne or bad meat in Italian. There are funny stories about naive but earnest classmates at the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) whose soup stocks couldn't hold a candle to Tony's (probably because Tony cheated by slipping his stocks with envelopes of Minor's chicken and lobster base hidden in his white chef's coat). Still ever the romantic that we witnessed on his CNN show, at Vassar, he filled his girlfriend's dorm room with an acre of lilacs he cut down with a sword, as handy with a kitchen knife as a samurai sword that he would wear, awkwardly, as a tribute to his idol, Bruce Lee. You know that optimistic swagger you have as a young kid? He had that swagger and never seemed to lose it, although he did lose his optimism. But not on his show!
Tell me if this sounds familiar. Anthony Bourdain wrote this after shamefully divulging his failed restaurant tryout at Mario's in P-Town in Kitchen Confidential:
"I slunk home that night in my blue Pierre Cardin suit as if it was sackcloth and ashes ... I ... began to formulate a plan, a way to get back at my tormentors [the ones who called him Mel]. I would go to school, at the Culinary Institute of America -- they were the best in the country and certainly none of these P-town guys had been there. I would apprentice in France. I would endure anything: evil drunk chefs, crackpot owners, low pay, working conditions; I would let sadistic, bucket-headed French sous-chefs work me like a Sherpa ... but I would be back. ..."
I so wish you would be back, Tony, for more delicious, funny dialogue, recently mixed with beautiful film, now your signature style of gorgeous, cinematic story telling. Heck, I'd settle for another one of your stories on my useful, non-flashy, Kindle Paper White.
My next book review of Kitchen Confidential is coming soon!