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)
75 minute commute each way. I've got some time for audible listening.
Not only can this guy cook, he can write and narrate, as well. I did not have overly high expectations from this book, but I had just listened to 48 hours of "The Stand" and needed something from the other end of the audible spectrum. I could not have made a better choice. The writing is entertaining, witty, and informative on subjects I didn't even know I needed to know about. He comes off as very authentic, and his narration never, not even once, provided me with the opportunity to drift off and have to hit the - 30 rewind. If the word f--k offends you, you may want to pass on this one. While I found his generous smattering of profanity appropriate and funny, I do know people who would not.
I did not read the print edition.
I was very interested when he talked about the experienced of eating specialties in the places they were famous for, in detail.
He read from his own book.
When he talked about becoming a father and how this changed his view of the world.
I enjoy seeing Mr. Bourdain on TV...it is hard to listen for hours on end to his strong opinions without a break. I had to read a chapter or so at a time so as to appreciate what he had to say in the audiobook.
Focusing primarily on food and restaurant related topics—ranging from tasting menus to chef David Chang to Bourdain’s list of culinary heroes and villains—Medium Raw is a collection of essays that meanders far and wide. Although primarily focused on the restaurant/chef business, Bourdain also includes personal essays dealing with the break-up of his first marriage, a psychotic weekend with a crazed heiress, and fatherhood.
I very much enjoyed listening to this book. Bourdain lives up to his reputation as a no-nonsense straight-talker. Most importantly, his criticism of others is balanced by self-depreciation. I actually found him to be relatively reasonable and likable. Despite mellowing since Kitchen Confidential (by his own admission), Bourdain still isn’t afraid to call out people for being pretentious, fake or unskilled. He owns his opinions (the essay dealing with his dislike of vegans bristles with anger and passion) and has an eloquent way of cursing that is amusing and almost artistic.
My favorite essay dealt with his efforts to keep his young daughter from liking McDonalds—with Bourdain waging a war of misinformation and outright lies (“I heard Ronald has cooties!”). This essay was very humanizing; there is nothing quite like parenthood to soften even the most debauched and self-centered person. (And, by his own accounts, Bourdain was this kind of person for years.)
Despite his feuds with various celebrity chefs and disdain for the Food Network, Bourdain genuinely loves and enjoys food. This passion is apparent throughout the book. Whether describing an illegal dinner or various meals he’s eaten in almost pornographic terms, Bourdain made me think differently about food and cooking. One essay outlined the cooking skills that Bourdain believes should be required for all citizens—including simple knife skills and knowing such basics as making an omelet, roasting a chicken, cooking vegetables, selecting produce, steaming a lobster or crab, preparing potatoes, and cooking. After listening to this essay, I was inspired to roast a chicken—a process that turned out to be rather easy!
I plan on reading/listening to more of Bourdain’s books. Although I’m not a foodie, Bourdain’s writing held my attention and inspired me to care more about what I put into my mouth and how I prepare it.
ABOUT THE NARRATION
Bourdain narrated his own book, which is very fitting for a collection of personal essays. He has a pleasant voice and knows his way around a curse word. The book was a fun and easy listen, and the short essay format made it perfect for listening to in short bursts.
Bourdain fans, foodies, and readers who enjoy essays with a strong point of view
When thinking about Anthony Bourdain, it’s not a love hate relationship that I endure, it’s a conflict of immense envy and intense disappointment. Bourdain’s writing seizes his reader. You cannot escape him. Yet, Bourdain also tends to estrange: almost every utterance resonating with an adolescent petulance bent on self - destruction. Few are the chapters in his self-narrated audio version of “Medium Raw” that do not chafe the ear with pubescent whining.
The other side of Bourdain that distresses the person truly interested in food is that his contrived bravado trivializes his deep sensitivity and insight. Bourdain resorts to the very thing he decries: the reduction to the lowest common denominator. While he cries out against what the Scripps Network has done to cooking shows, he is guilty of the same thing. His monotonous need to be the “bad boy” of four letter words is a direct appeal to culinary boneheads who have never seen the inside of a pot and whose highest culinary experience revolves around their beer -can arm chair recliner. I would love to be Anthiny Bourdain. I envy his knowledge. I long for his experience. But, I would want to be an Anthony Bourdain who is secure enough to recognize his own talent without a hidden shame of his own creativity: a shame that masks his creativity with the popular. Like the food stars he berates he too has sold to popularity, to the masses, to the vulgar. Still, I read his every word and know all his programs by heart.
Listening to this right after Kitchen Confidential was a mistake. Anthony Bourdain loves being Anthony Bourdain and he really, really wants you to know it. Yawn. Remember when Metallica wrote really great songs, played hard and kicked a lot of ass? They were young, lean, hungry and desperate and it resulted in great work. Now they are fat, happy, art-collecting yuppies and it results in flabby crap (and Bob Seger covers?!). Well guess what, it's not just for metal bands anymore.
I have listened to Medium Raw several times already and love it each time I listen to it. Bourdain's acerbic wit entertains me. Plus I loved the glimpse of his childhood.
It is very much like his first book Kitchen Confidential but instead of talking about his experience as a young chef, it gives glimpses into his childhood that really allow you to understand what went in to making his unique wit and story-telling abilities.
My favorite part was a visit to one of his uncles who was an oyster harvester (do you call that fisherman?) and the description of his first taste of raw oyster. I laughed so hard I nearly ran off the road!!
There was one part that didn't move me so much as made me nostalgic. That part was when his parents leave him in the car with his brother to read Tin-Tin while they went and enjoyed a gourmet meal. His response to it is very much like my own. He determines that he is going to eat whatever is put before him from now on without complaint.
Small business owner, avid reader and listener, occasional writer.
Top five in my collection of audiobooks.
The best part of this book is the in your face honesty and irreverence.
The book opens with an amazing black market meal. You are thrust into a world that has been hinted at, but not experienced. Vicariously, as well as safely, you experience a delicacy that is intriguing, scary and presented as gastronomic forbidden fruit of the food elite. The book met this early standard through out.
Several times I laughed and cursed out loud.
Loved his gritty, tell it like it is revelations all in a gritty New York in your face narrative.
I am a big fan of No Reservations.Tony's narration is part of what makes that show so great. I got a copy of the book when I saw him live. I read it that week. It was a great read.
I bought the audiobook because I love Tony's narration on the show. It's an even better listen than a read. I might need to get the Kitchen Confidential audiobook now. It might end up being more disgusting...
This is a funny, touching look at the world of foodie insiders. By narrating his own book Bourdain really demonstrates his attitudes about a variety of food topics, chefs, chef sell outs, cooking shows, etc. Be warned the language gets a bit rough. If that doesn't offend you, this is a thoroughly enjoyable listen.
I loved the descriptions of odd foods and the peeks at the personalities of cooking show chefs.
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