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)
This is a story about how a New York author who, probably supported his wife, doesn't really work, and travels back and forth to Italy. Mario Batali is mentioned slightly more often than Marco Pierre White and while he does hold a position in the kitchen, in the end, all the author really wants to be is an author. Mario offers to open a restaurant for him and he turns it down. No doubt he really has "so much more to learn, to bring his concepts to their fullest."
As far as the reader goes, at any given time I am waiting for him to finish every sentence with "Ya see... Ya Ya....." Like an old mobster from the 20's. The story line has you in a kitchen one minute then seconds later you are in Italy and you wonder how the hell you got there. Very jerky jerky. Aside from those two things, it was just an Okay story.
I listen to a lot of audiobooks.
Even though the author was frank about Mario Batali in many chapters, I still got the feeling he was incredibly star struck. Towards the end of the book he seemed to even be bragging about his friendship with the guy - it really put me off. I thought the book was scattered and not well organized. Weird book - read "Soul of the Chef" instead. Much better.
It is one of the most comprehensive and intimate looks at how chefs are driven to excellence (the good ones at least). It also provides a glimpse of a world of authentic cooking that is fast disappearing from our tables.
It put me in awe of how much we stand to lose without the pursuit of authentic culinary experiences and people that strive to do it well.
A definite milestone read for anyone interested in food!
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.
A book for foodies, chefs, aspiring cooks, those with a history with gastronomy or restaurants and enjoy a good read on the subject will greatly enjoy this title. The story is quite a journey by a journalist who decided to immerse himself into the culinary world in such a way as not many have.
Michael Kramer presents this book in a consistant and pleasant manner. Some of his mispronunciations are a bit grating but he is presented with a challenge array of languages and kitchen lingo.He even manages to throw in a few sometimes laughable accents.
For those that complain about the language - take it for what it is... the way of many kitchens and restaurants. I'm sure that the actual events likely contained even more colorful language than what actually ended up in the book.
I liked the author's tone and story and was drawn into the little known facts about professional cooks so I would consider reading another Bill Buford book.
The main character, the book centers completely on the author himself.
No, I found it a little too dry.
Amusement, I'm a foodie and so this book was right up my alley. Interest, hearing the author travel the globe for food was fastinating. Scared, it was scary to think about the author with big butcher's knives especially since he was a little clumsy.
Overall I liked the story but not the narrator.
As a career working chef I found this book to be a realistic image of the work and emotions that is the dynamic world of cooking for a living. I found the author's description of his Euro tour very entertaining. Add a star if you like food and travel...add a star if you are in the food business. Narrator had some errors in reading that broke the concentration on the story but alas he's but human as well. Not as hardcore as Anthony Bourdains first book while truthful representation was also too graphic for some readers.
This book is wonderful. If you are heavily interested in cooking, food, and respect those that dedicate their lives to producing great food...then this book is for you.
This book is just okay. It tended to move a little slowly. It is a lot of kitchen talk about the behind the scenes workings of a restaurant which is is interesting for a few hours, but not for 12 hours. It's is probably great for those who are really interested in the restaurant business or are really into food.
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