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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, and 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

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Sort by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Dr Woo
  • Space Coast FL
  • 06-10-12

If you're a foodie - you must read this book.

Would you consider the audio edition of Heat to be better than the print version?

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.

What did you like best about this story?

The adventures in Italy were very interesting and enlightening.

Any additional comments?

Highly recommended and certainly worth the time and credit.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • chris
  • las vegas, NV, United States
  • 09-10-07

Enthralled

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.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Grant
  • NANTUCKET, MA, United States
  • 07-08-10

One of my favorite food books to date.

The stories in this book, as well as the food/restaurant insights, are fascinating. Thoroughly enjoyable.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

A Foodie's Delight

Any additional comments?

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

it's cookin'

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Ben
  • BELLINGHAM, WA, United States
  • 04-24-11

Fantastic - Funny and Informative

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.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Foodies will LOVE this!

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.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Bob
  • Champaign, IL, United States
  • 08-16-11

Great Book! Awful Awful reading!

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.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Delightful!

The subtitle sort of says it all. Buford's book is as much about him as it is about his subjects, and that's just fine by me. He never takes himself too seriously and gives us a funny, clever, and deeply informative journey into the world of Tuscan food. Everything can seem a bit outlandish and larger than life at times, but he always saves things from veering over the top with his intelligence and warmth. It's about the food, yes. But it's also a deeply genuine and human book. For all the fuss about the culinary superstars at the heart of his story, Buford's book is just as much about the anonymous supporting cast members that he connects with: the dishwashers, line cooks, mentors, neighbors, and so on. And his serious explorations of the history of Tuscan cuisine are terrific digressions from his main story, and they support and enhance his personal journey.

The portion of his book set in Italy was my favorite. I had just returned from Tuscany (including a visit to Dario Cecchini's butcher shop and restaurant) when I read this, and Buford's writing rang very true to me. He has a fine sense of the place and its food, and his warmth for the people is evident. Reading these passages took me right back to Tuscany!

Great narration from Michael Kramer.

Strongly recommended.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent story, difficult narrator

Well worth it for the material, once you get past the drill of the author.