Anthony Bourdain received hordes of attention upon the publication of Kitchen Confidential. Much of that attention focused on the debauchery of the bad boy chef culture and some less than appealing practices within the restaurant industry (I’ll probably think twice before biting into that slice of complimentary bread). As entertaining as those tales are I was more thrilled to get a glimpse inside the mind of a professional chef.
The operation of a professional restaurant kitchen is like a complex dance with the chef acting as a combination of choreographer and principal dancer. Menu planning is a delicate balance between demand and product availability. Use fresh product today and plan ahead to use it when it may not be quite as fresh anymore. Bourdain preaches: never order fish on Monday. Product is not the only limitation, equipment can be limiting as well. Depending on what’s on the menu and how many diners order it simultaneously can the kitchen physically accommodate the orders – will there be enough burners available? As someone who has only ever been a diner, I find it fascinating to learn about the rhythm of the kitchen, the delicate timing required to ensure that the product will be cooked and delivered to the diner along with the product ordered by the rest of the table.
If you have any interest in what happens behind the scenes in a restaurant, Kitchen Confidential will definitely keep you engaged. And if you’re a vegetarian, just know before you start reading that Bourdain does not hold your lifestyle in the highest regard.