Kelly the Culinarian: Media meal: "Kitchen Confidential" by Anthony Bourdain

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Media meal: "Kitchen Confidential" by Anthony Bourdain

I just finished Anthony Bourdain's "Kitchen Confidential." Yes, I know I'm quite behind the times. But here's a little info about the read.

Bourdain has been in the food business for longer than many of us has been alive. He attended the Culinary Institute of America and went on to work at myriad eateries and establishments.
In this book, he shares what he knows about food and his experiences in the fire pit of New York's finest restaurants.

If you have any interest in knowing where your meal really came from and whose been working on it, I really recommend this book. The beauty of Bourdain's writing is that he does not try to sugar coat anything -- his kitchen is simply how it is and nothing more. He's candid about his drug use, his lack of enthusiasm for previous employers and his real aspirations in life.

But there are many lessions to be gleaned from this novel. First, never EVER eat brunch. Even at the classy establishment Bourdain darkened the door of, brunch was simply a way to get rid of leftovers from the night before. Also, pass on fish on Monday. It's simply leftovers from the weekend, ordered as far back as Thursday. YUCK.

Now, the more positive advice. Here's what Bourdain says is needed to create professional-looking dishes: First, a chef's knife, perhaps of the Global brand for their ease of maintenance and care. A flexible boning knife, also the Global brand, but only if you plan to bone and fillet your own fish. If your butcher does it, you can skip this. A paring knife is nice for smaller work and many chefs take on an offset serrated knife, which is ergonomically designed for cutting bread or thick-skinned tomatoes.

As far as presentation, Bourdain says to invest in some cheap-o plastic squeeze bottles. You can fill these things with sauces and herb-infused oils, then use the bottle to delicately place them on the plate. You can also use toothpicks to swirl little designs in the oils and garnishes. Also, invest in some metal rings in various sizes -- this is how chefs arrange food in tall, artful stacks. Finally, a mandolin helps chefs achieve uniform slices in vegetables and side dishes.

He also says that if you can't dent some one's skull with a pot or pan, it's not worth buying. And no kitchen, in Bourdain's opinion, is complete without butter, stock, chiffonaded parsley, roasted garlic and demi-glace, but you'll have to check out the book for details.

This books is definitely worth it's price, but I'm sure by now you can pick it up at the library. It's a quick, easy read, so check it out.


Cynthia said...

I totally enjoyed this book too.

Sylvia said...

I bougth the book yesterday, the man and the book ,what a combination.