The long-awaited follow-up to the mega-best-seller Kitchen Confidential
In the 10 years since his classic Kitchen Confidential first alerted us to the idiosyncrasies and lurking perils of eating out - from Monday fish to the breadbasket conspiracy - much has changed for the subculture of chefs and cooks, for the restaurant business and for Anthony Bourdain. Medium Raw explores those changes, moving back and forth from the author's bad old days to the present. Tracking his own strange and unexpected voyage from journeyman cook to globe-traveling professional eater and drinker, and even to fatherhood, Bourdain takes no prisoners as he dissects what he's seen, pausing along the way for a series of confessions, rants, investigations, and interrogations of some of the most controversial figures in food.
Beginning with a secret and highly illegal after-hours gathering of powerful chefs that he compares to a mafia summit, Bourdain pulls back the curtain, but never pulls his punches, on the modern gastronomical revolution, as only he can. Cutting right to the bone, Bourdain sets his sights on some of the biggest names in the foodie world, including David Chang, the young superstar chef who has radicalized the fine-dining landscape; the revered Alice Waters, whom he treats with unapologetic frankness; the Top Chef winners and losers; and many more.
Always he returns to the question "Why cook?" Or the more difficult "Why cook well?" Medium Raw is the deliciously funny and shockingly delectable journey to those answers, sure to delight philistines and gourmands alike.
©2010 Anthony Bourdain (P)2010 HarperCollins Publishers
"The food orbit is [Bourdain’s] element, and chapters on today’s leading figures—from chef David Chang to critic Alan Richman—display his access, outspokenness and comedic gifts....Mr. Bourdain is a vivid, bawdy and often foul-mouthed writer. He thrills in the attack, but he is also an enthusiast who writes well about things he holds dear." (Wall Street Journal)
“Full of things everybody in the food world thinks but nobody will say...If [Bourdain’s] sharp eye and his wicked tongue have brought him acclaim, what’s kept him in the spotlight is his heart. Like Oscar Wilde, he’s a moralist in the guise of a libertine. Long may he prosper.” (Denver Post)
“Bourdain has insight, access and good taste, and he’s a naturally engaging writer...Bourdain is a hopeless romantic when it comes to food and the people who cook. The subtitle’s real valentines are two elegantly written profiles.” (New York Times Book Review)
This is not a book that will stick with you for the long-term, and the language is not for the faint of heart, but.... It is classic Anthony Bourdain. A little self-centered, a little indulgent, a little exaggerated for effect, but entertaining nevertheless. The chapter towards the end where he follows a day in the life of the seafood prep cook at Les Bernadin shows that Anthony, above all, respects the craft of cooking for others, and has a soft spot in his heart for those who respect it, too. I enjoyed the book for what it was, and think his fans will, too.
Hearing Anthony tell his tale is so much better than listening to ANY other narrator. That aside, the story is great - loved the behind the scenes bits near the end about all of the "characters" in Kitchen Confidential. Any Bourdain fan is going to be happy if they buy this audiobook - regardless of whether you spend a credit or pay full price. LOVED IT.
This book lacks the rebellious innocence and honesty of Kitchen Confidential and seems apologetic and heavily defensive at times. An over-the-top love fest in parts that would have had the old Tony puking on his cowboy boots. Still, Bourdain is a good storyteller and his dry, caustic sense of humor makes it worth a listen, even as he's become part of the pop-food scene he used to rail against.
Amusing anecdotes, particularly about the St. Bart's glitterati and their too-many-facelifts denizens, but really, Bourdain's abrasive stance and consistent use of the F word make me wonder if he's someone who has a severely limited vocabulary as well as lacking in nuance of character.
Let's get one thing straight, if your looking for someone to say all nice things about everyone, you've got the wrong book and author. Anthony says it like it is, or like it is to him. No mincing words here, but that's what I guess I like. Superstar Chef, no but someone that loves food and knows food and tells you what he thinks of the world of food, chef's , writers and more. I like it even more since he actually reads the book . Love hearing it in his own words, voice. Hope one day I'll have the pleasure of sitting down and having some food and drink with Anthony straight up.
While I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it was not as packed with great stories and insider insights as his previous books. The beginning was slow but things picked up as it went along. He may be running out of juicy material and is therefore stretching what he's got to fill more space. It's worth getting the book, however, for his description of the world of St. Barts alone. Hilarious and spot on. It's especially worth reading for anyone considering becoming a chef.
As the sister of a chef, I get to go out with my brother and his pals whenever I'm in town. Tony sounds just like them: funny, scatological, sarcastic, profane and opinionated. I'd love to have him join us, he'd fit right in. He writes like he talks, and that's a very good thing.
I have to say the book is very disjointed. Parts of it are very interesting while other parts are very dull. Unlike Kitchen Confidential which I felt was very accessible for everyone, Medium Raw seemed like it would be more interesting to insiders. Without a knowledge of the chefs that Bourdain is talking about before hand I found myself referring to Wikipedia frequently for more background. The best chapter for me was the last which talks about the post Kitchen Confidential days and what has happened since.
If you read Anthony's book, this is a good continuation of that. Some parts seemed a little long and drawn out but that's okay. I found it interesting for at least 90% of the time. It probably helps that he has a really good voice for reading. If you liked Kitchen Confidential, then you'll most likely enjoy this.
For any Bourdain fans or hardcore cooks....this one is a must-have for your "Cook Free Or Die" collection. This is yet another poetic and sharp-worded novel, and I think he does a better job narrating this piece than Kitchen Confidential. His voice has more inflection and drama to it - you could almost imagine that Tony is sitting across the table from you, sharing a beer and a story. However....
Despite the awesome delivery, the content of Medium Raw is really a disappointment. Its listed as a "memoir" ten years after he published Kitchen Confidential, yet I really struggled to see the entire point he was getting at. There was no moral...no theme...no rational pattern. He discussed random foods worldwide, to his suicidal period dealing with the breakup of his marriage, to, and I kid you not, a whole chapter where he simply talks about how he is a better parent than every other one in the world because he stays with his daughter at dance class. Really? What happened to Kitchen Confidential? What happened to the grit and grime and sweat of the kitchen? Bourndain presents this book ten years later, almost practically apologizing to the culinary world for what made him who he his (as he calls it in Kitchen Confidential "I Make My Bones"). What is this, is he selling out to the Food Network like the other reviewers seem to think?
Altogether, this is a very good book, but buyers beware...you might finish it confused or let down at the "new Tony".
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