Because I'm a big foodie, this book came highly recommended to me by numerous friends. Although I liked Anthony Bourdain's narration and gained some good insight into the restaurant industry, I wasn't hooked and found myself easily distracted while listening. My favorite parts came later on in the book, when Bourdain spent more time talking about food, cooking, and his adventures in Tokyo.
I thought parts of this were very interesting, but at times it seemed like he was going for shock value. I don't think I am impressed with him as he is.
I just finished listening to this book over the Christmas holidays and I can't say enough good things about it. Not only is the content interesting and funny, but also the fact that Anthony read it adds texture to the story. I felt like I was sitting across the table from him having a few drinks while he told me his story. I recommend this book to anyone that might be interested in food, restaurants or great biographies.
I don't think you have to be a foodie to enjoy this book. This is not a how to book but there are times that he will go into great detail about preparing food. The meat of this book is a gritty behind the scenes look at the restaunt biz from his start as a dishwasher in a greasy spoon to head chef in some of the finest New York establishments. Very graphic language and pervasive drug use is discussed, which for me only adds to the allure of this story. Throughout his career he has worked with many interesting people, all of whom he brought to life with a great deal of clarity and texture. I was not bored.
A 4 out of 5 rating is a little unfair on my part because I truly enjoyed the book. It's an in-depth look at the bad side/back side of the restaurant business from someone really in the know, and for a novice narrator, the author does a fine job reading his own material, giving the extra punch to those lines as only he (as the author) could. I have to take off a star for my own ignorance of haute cuisine - many of the dishes he talks about, with French or Italian names, I just couldn't understand from hearing them - they probably would have made more sense reading them off the page. And there was a little bit too much of Bourdain's own battle with his alcohol and drug demons - I don't really care about that stuff and it got very old after a while. But overall, for someone like me whose only knowledge of restaurants comes from what I see on my plate when I order, it was enlightening, entertaining, and even occasionally frightening! Well worth the investment.
I must say having read the hardcopy before listening, I was extremely pleased to find that Chef Bourdain narrated this audio program. Having been a chef in NYC I was extremely entertained and impressed by the honesty and accuracy of the subject matter. This book is truly entertaining for the restaurant professional as well as the home cook or foodie that just wants an inside look at the sadistic, twisted nature of the professional chef and wonderfully dark and dank cages we chefs call kitchens.
I found this audio book spellbinding. If you read this book, you cannot put it down. I was amazed at how well Bourdain narrated the book. I learned plenty about food and the chef's world. I listened to his narration in my car. Some times I would sit in my driveway for half an hour before going into the house, I was so entranced by the book. Listen to a sample and you will be hooked. ENJOY!
For anyone who has ever considered becoming a chef, works in the restaurant biz, or just loves food, you will love this book. It is an interesting look at the dark underbelly of the business behind serving good food, is narrated by the author, and is full of sick and fascinating antecdotes about his growth through the ranks of various restaurants. Mr. Bourdain is a bit self indulgent and egotistical, but you'll cut him some slack after 30 minutes of this one because it's so darn engaging.
I've worked in the restaurant industry for 10 years starting as a server and moving my way up through the ranks. Anthony Bourdain paints an accurate (to the point of being offensive) depiction of life in the hospitality industry. I was so impressed by his candor and exposure. His success is the true example of conquering the American dream.
The author made it from priviledged childhood, to life of hard work in kitchen craft before plummeting into a drug-directed, sex-driven existence. It's fairly interesting (I'll never go to another all-you-can-eat buffet at the club), though I'm not sure if I would call it a comedy--more of an adventure. The trouble is, unlike other autobiographers, this attempt feels a bit too self-referential, self-congratulatory, and, frankly, flat. The plodding narration does nothing to lift it from the two-dimensional, and suffers from overwrought descriptions that does not add to one's understanding.
Overall, I would recommend the book with reservations; it may be better to skip through some chapters to get through it. In the end, I really didn't come to have any affection for the author which was the biggest disappointment.