I am presently reading Anthony Bourdainâ€™s â€œKitchen Confidentialâ€ and I must say, â€œwhat a blast!â€ It is not only for foodies, but also a must-read for those who love to eat (arenâ€™t we all??), those who want to go into the food/resto biz or simply those who want to know what goes on behind those busy restaurant kitchens. One would be surprised that a lot of drinking, drugs, & sex lie behind the scenes, pretty much like rock and roll. I havenâ€™t yet finished yet reading this tale of Bourdainâ€™s â€œAdventures in the Culinary Underbellyâ€ but there are interesting tidbits so far.
Take for example the chapter on â€œFrom Our Kitchen To Your Table.â€ In his direct and engaging style, Bourdain dishes out very interesting tips for the casual and/or serious diner. To quote :
1.Never order fish on a Monday. I know how old most seafood is on Monday â€“ about four to five days old.
2. I don’t eat mussels in restaurants unless I know the chef personally, or have seen, with my own eyes, how they store and hold their mussels for service. (Blogger’s note: So true. I’ve had a bad case of food poisoning from spoiled mussels)
3. ‘Brunch menu.’ Translation? “Old, nasty odds and ends, and 12 dollars for two eggs with a free Bloody Mary.” One other point about brunch. Cooks hate brunch. A wise chef will deploy his best line cooks on Friday and Saturday nikghts; he’ll be reluctant to schedule those same cooks early Sunday morning, especially since they probably went out after work Saturday and got hammered until the wee hours.
4. How about seafood on Sunday? Well..sometimes, but never an obvious attempt to offload aging stuff, like seafood salad vinaigrette or seafood frittata, on a brunch menu.
5. I will eat bread in restaurants. Even if I know it’s probably been recycled off someone else’s table. The reuse of bread is an industry-wide practice.
6. I won’t eat in a restaurant with filthy bathrooms. If the restaurant can’t be bothered to replace the puck in the urinal or keep the toilets and floors clean, then just imagine what their refrigeration and work spaces look like. Bathrooms are relatively easy to clean. Kitchens are not.
7. Beef parmentier? Shepherd’s pie? Chili special? Sounds like leftovers to me.
8. Chilean sea bass? Trendy. Expensive. More than likely frozen.
9. Vegetarians and vegans are a persistent irritant to any chef worth a damn. To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not wiorth living.
10.Pigs are filthy animals, say some, when explaining why they deny themselves the delights of pork. Maybe they should visit a chicken ranch. Commercially available chickens, for the most part, are loaded with salmonella. Chickens are dirty. They eat their own feces, are kept packed close together like in a rush-hour subway, and when handled in a restaurant situation, are most likely to infect other foods, or contaminate them. (Blogger’s note: STILL, I want my chicken!)
11. Shrimp? All right if it looks fresh, smells fresh, and the restaurant is busy, guaranteeing turnover of a product on a regular basis. But shrimp toast? I’ll pass.
12. Look at your waiter’s face. He knows. It’s another reason to be polite to your waiter: he could save your life with a raised eyebrow or a sigh. If he likes you, maybe he’ll stop you from ordering a piece of fish he knows is going to hurt you. On the other hand, maybe the chef has ordered him, under the pain of death, to move that codfish before it begins to really reek. Observe the body language, and take note.
13. Watchwords for fine dining? Tuesday through Saturday. The food that comes in Tuesday is fresh, the station prep is new, and the chef is well-rested after a Sunday or Monday off.
14. If the restaurant is clean, the cooks and waiters well-groomed, the dining room busy, everyone seems to actually care about what they’re doing, chances are you’re in for a decent meal.
i’ve been meaning to borrow this from the library so thank for the great review! they even did a few pilot episodes of “kitchen confidential” here in the U.S. (loosely based on the book), but it didn’t pan out. it starred hottie bradley cooper, so too darn bad!
‘read this book 4 years ago. Quite an adventure. You might want to read bourdain’s “A Cook’s Tour” which was based from his original tv show 🙂
Tony is such a hip chef 😉
Go ahead, Kat. I just borrowed it myself. It’s a page-turner but have been reading it, regrettably, with much interruption. 😛
I figured that you get to read all the chef’s books Duke:wink: what a library you must have
I am a food lovers. Must put this to my “next-to-read” list!! 😆
You didn’t mention what Bourdain said what hotel buffet dishes are made out of 🙂
It’s a very interesting book; read A Cook’s Tour too.
Interesting. I still haven’t read that part, Paul..I still haven’t finished the book:grin:
Please do, Mira, and tell me about it. regards..
The Ca t says
I also have my own don’ts when I eat in a restaurant.
1. fried rice, i prefer steamed rice(rice is a left-over and so are the other stuff that go with it such as meat
2. prefer grilled fish or steamed fish than fried(some restaurants use recycled cooking oil )
3. order unopened iced cold soda and ask for glass
someone working in a restaurant said that the restaurant owner instructs them to recycle the unfinished soda by serving it to customer who orders soda in a glass with ice.
4. my friend from an airline company advised me to order canned soda instead of water even if i see that it comes from a big bottle. Not unless, its uncorked bottled water.
Thanks for these interesting inputs Cath. Guess we will never know what goes behind the scenes in these restos, eh? On the other hand, it’s good that open kitchens are all the rage now..
read this book, too. He even talked about how chefs are getting laid, right? Or is it another one? Anyway, it was a god read for me, too.
read this book, too. He even talked about how chefs are getting laid, right? Or is it another one? Anyway, it was a good read for me, too.
That’s good to know Tito Rolly. Twas interesting to know all the chefs’ shenanigans here 😉
I’m a fan of Anthony Bourdain, I love his frankness also. I will get a copy of this book. Like sa Ma Mon Luk, once kaming kumain ang tingin ko ang dumi noong resto nila pero ngayon gusto ko ulit kumain dun 😆 Masarap kasi pero what do you think Ajay, malinis kaya ang preparation ng food doon? Nagtanong pa ano?
Hi Lani! Go ahead with your food craving. What you don’t know won’t hurt you. As Bourdain himself said…”your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride”:grin:
and now you know
DO NOT (pause)
this kind of books
ignorance is bliss…
fortuitous faery says
i love anthony bourdain and his food network show “no reservations.” i’ve bought two of his books, “the nasty bits” and “a cook’s tour.” he is an amazing writer. his prose stimulates all five senses.