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Publisher's Summary

From one of our most interesting literary figures, former editor of Granta, former fiction editor at The New Yorker, acclaimed author of Among the Thugs, a sharp, funny, exuberant, close-up account of his headlong plunge into the life of a professional cook.

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

Critic Reviews

"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)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    254
  • 4 Stars
    173
  • 3 Stars
    65
  • 2 Stars
    19
  • 1 Stars
    6

Performance

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    163
  • 4 Stars
    91
  • 3 Stars
    34
  • 2 Stars
    8
  • 1 Stars
    0

Story

  • 4.4 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
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  • 4 Stars
    83
  • 3 Stars
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    5
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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • JAMES
  • ALEXANDRIA, VA, United States
  • 10-11-12

Insight into the worldwide culinary experience

What did you love best about Heat?

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.

What about Michael Kramer’s performance did you like?

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.

Any additional comments?

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.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Erin
  • Vienna, VA, United States
  • 02-17-12

Great glimpse into a restaurant's kitchen

Would you try another book from Bill Buford and/or Michael Kramer?

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.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The main character, the book centers completely on the author himself.

Would you be willing to try another one of Michael Kramer’s performances?

No, I found it a little too dry.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

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.

Any additional comments?

Overall I liked the story but not the narrator.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Very interesting culinary inside to Italy

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.

  • Overall
  • Matthew
  • Dallas, TX, United States
  • 12-01-10

Wonderful

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.

  • Overall

just okay

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.

6 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Larbi
  • Glen Ridge, NJ, USA
  • 04-01-08

well-read interesting book

I very much enjoyed Buford's book and the reading was pleasant and easy to follow. I was a little puzzled at how much the book focused on Mario Batali, but I enjoyed hearing about his restaurants, his management style, and the insights into other famous chefs cooking elsewhere in the world today. Back when I started travelling, everyone ate at fairly traditional restaurants with steaks and chicken and pretty blah side dishes. Now it's a global adventure and we can eat the excellent meals to which my generation was woken up by visits to Italy, France and THailand and even countries like the UK (which was world reknowned for having the worst food in the civilized world) have sophisticated cuisines well worth trying. We even great great food in the US with origins in many different countries--thanks to all these foodies who travel and bring back great ideas and great skills.

1 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Hot and Cold

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.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful