Expanding on his James Beard Award-winning New Yorker article, Bill Buford gives us a richly evocative chronicle of his experience as "slave" to Mario Batali in the kitchen of Batali's three-star New York restaurant, Babbo.
In a fast-paced, candid narrative, Buford describes three frenetic years of trials and errors, disappointments and triumphs, as he worked his way up the Babbo ladder from "kitchen bitch" to line cook, his relationship with the larger-than-life Batali, whose story he learns as their friendship grows through (and sometimes despite) kitchen encounters and after-work all-nighters, and his immersion in the arts of butchery in Northern Italy, of preparing game in London, and making handmade pasta at an Italian hillside trattoria.
Heat is a marvelous hybrid: a memoir of Buford's kitchen adventure, the story of Batali's amazing rise to culinary (and extra-culinary) fame, a dazzling behind-the-scenes look at a famous restaurant, and an illuminating exploration of why food matters. It is a book to delight in, and to savor.
©2006 William Buford; (P)2006 Books on Tape
"Terrific culinary writing....A wonderfully detailed and highly amusing book." (Publishers Weekly)
"Buford's mastery of the stove is exceeded only by his deft handling of English prose." (Booklist)
The stories in this book, as well as the food/restaurant insights, are fascinating. Thoroughly enjoyable.
I loved this book. The subject, about the ins and outs of restaurants, and a voyage to Italy to learn butchering among other things kept me glued to this audiobook. I think it's very good quality and will re-listen to it again I'm sure. Probably one of my favorite audible downloads so far.
This is a unique story from extended research from the author. It is very educational and entertaining. It'll keep you interested. I read the book and then later listened to the audiobook. The audiobook, as usual, was a much richer experience. Story telling is so much more entertaining.
The adventures in Italy were very interesting and enlightening.
Highly recommended and certainly worth the time and credit.
Absolutely enjoyable and I learned a ton about what it is like to become a cook by working in some of the world's best kitchens. Lots of funny stories and anecdotes. Highly recommended.
Foodies will find Bill Buford's story of working in Mario Batali's New York restaurant kitchen as a journalist "tourist", to be very entertaining. He clearly becomes entranced by what he experiences and spends much more time learning the craft than was needed for a magazine article. The story of the time he spends in Italy, in particular, learning how to make pasta and how to be a butcher is both touching and entertaining, and the entire book contains just the right amount of wry humor. If you enjoyed Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential you will find Heat to be an enjoyable companion piece.
I agree with other reviewers that the narrator could have been better. He does attempt to convey emotion as needed, and does a fairly good job of it. He has difficulty with foreign pronunciations, though, and even a few words in English are mispronounced. I don't expect a narrator to be multi-lingual, but if narration is the profession you have selected, at least learn the pronunciation of the foreign languages whose words appear frequently, in their original form, in English - such as Spanish, French, and Italian. He also had trouble keeping several characters' accents consistent, particularly restaurateur Marco Pierre White, who was narrated with several different accents. I consider that to be just plainly sloppy work. Lastly, I would describe the narration style as sounding like a parody of Phil Hartman (SNL) doing a parody of a narrator reading a '40s detective novel, arched eyebrow included.
Overall, even given the narrator's shortcomings, I found "Heat" to be a very entertaining listen, and recommend it for anyone with a deep interest in food and the chaotic and passionate lifestyle behind it.
The book is riveting! Tons of information and extremely candid. The narrator is just awful. Incredibly smug in tone which belies the self deprecating tone of the book. Worst of all, the narrator grossly mispronounces Italian and French words while trying to overdo the accent for each word. Also, when he reads quotes from Marco Pierre White, he uses a bad Scottish accent instead of a British accent. I have listened to this multiple times because of the wealth of information in it but the narration is just torture. The author would have been a great reader - he's very animated when I've seen him be interviewed. It looks like the author did indead read the abridged version. I really wished that he did this one, too.
This is definitely a "foodie" book. From his beginning as a line cook for Mario Batali to his explorations in Tuscany to learn to make home-made pasta, we follow the author on his quest to learn more about the food for which he has always had such passion. His zeal for his subject is contagious and will have your mouth watering, though I have read reviews from non-cooks who could not handle the rather extensive exegesis on short ribs and I must agree that he does get obsessive at times. I'm into cooking and food prep and Italy for that matter, so I followed him every step of the way and enjoyed the journey.
There was some language thrown in that I thought was unnecessary, not overly excessive, just more than I would like. Overall, I enjoyed the book so much that I bought 3 copies for my brothers and brother-in-law who are all chefs and foodies too.
Who would have though that and audible description of someone's culinary adventures and expeditions into learning the craft could be so entertaining. I find that there is just the right balance between insightful observation and humour in this book. I learned more about preparing pasta than I ever thought possible while realizing that it is also about a way of live. If you care about good food you will care about this book.
I love words that can take me into other worlds.
For the most part, this was a really enjoyable book. The glimpse into various extremely different food worlds was fascinating: from celebrity chef Mario Batali's 3-star New York restaurant to uncelebrated Italian women who make tortellini the way their grandmothers were taught by their grandmothers. I loved Buford's self-deprecating wit and his genuine interest in people of all stripes, as well as in the food they cook. Although the book is most known for its intimate portrait of Batali's kitchen, I found the chapters on the artisanal food producers in Italy even more appealing, making me want to fly off to Italy to feast on traditional dishes before they are lost to modern fast food. My only objection to the book was Buford's over-use of expetives. It is too bad he didn't learn from all those great cooks that seasoning is most appealing when laid on with a light hand.
zoeq is a trained chef an innkeeper. Currently she is writing a cookbook for the family cook. She lives in Florida and loves kayaking.
Loved the vocal inflexions of the reader so, yeah, audible has got to be way better.
Authenticity. It's one thing to write about something as an observer or a critic but it is another to write about an experience over time while starting as a novice working your way to pro. This writer left no stone unturned. He has my respect and best wishes to now start a cooking journey in France. Good luck with that one. Especially learning French. Might as well learn all the insults first - Chapter 10 of my French book - that way at least you'll know what they're saying most of the time.
The author who was reading the book as himself and seeing all the real-life characters up close and personal. Michael Kramer read it so well that I now associate his voice with the author himself. A close second is the Italian butcher Darius because he knew good meat and where to get it and handled customers the way I would have liked to. Have some humility - it goes far when you're learning for a lifetime which cooking requires.
No. I felt I was working in the kitchen, too. I had to split it up. It was very intense for me having been a culinary student for one year myself and experiencing the long intense hours and the often not-so-nice personalities that get into positions of power. I recall being criticized by one of those self-important types when I suggested putting cinnamon and a pinch of sugar in tomato sauce (my Italian grandmother's teaching). She gave me a "B" and my lab partner an "A" just to show me who was boss. There's a lot of ignorant people who call themselves "chef." She was known for not being able to cook.
If you think you want to be a chef or experience what the journey is really like, listen to this book. If you still want to do it and have the physical strength and stamina to match your desire, by all means, take the plunge. I loved it and use the knowledge every day of my life though I chose not to continue to work in restaurants. I had a B&B for 5 years and that was enough for me of cooking for other people - especially those with wierd diets or those who think they know what good food is but don't have a clue. Let them eat cereal or non-fat yogurt for breakfast! I'm just happy to cook good food for myself and my friends and family who appreciate what I do. I also record my recipes and techniques for posterity. Note the attitude of the butcher, Darius. I'm with him.
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