Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany

( 38 )

Overview

A highly acclaimed writer and editor, Bill Buford left his job at The New Yorker for a most unlikely destination: the kitchen at Babbo, the revolutionary Italian restaurant created and ruled by superstar chef Mario Batali. Finally realizing a long-held desire to learn first-hand the experience of restaurant cooking, Buford soon finds himself drowning in improperly cubed carrots and scalding pasta water on his quest to learn the tricks of the trade. His love of Italian food then propels him on journeys further ...
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Heat: An Amateur Cook in a Professional Kitchen

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Overview

A highly acclaimed writer and editor, Bill Buford left his job at The New Yorker for a most unlikely destination: the kitchen at Babbo, the revolutionary Italian restaurant created and ruled by superstar chef Mario Batali. Finally realizing a long-held desire to learn first-hand the experience of restaurant cooking, Buford soon finds himself drowning in improperly cubed carrots and scalding pasta water on his quest to learn the tricks of the trade. His love of Italian food then propels him on journeys further afield: to Italy, to discover the secrets of pasta-making and, finally, how to properly slaughter a pig. Throughout, Buford stunningly details the complex aspects of Italian cooking and its long history, creating an engrossing and visceral narrative stuffed with insight and humor.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
After spending late nights with British soccer hooligans in Among the Thugs, New Yorker writer Bill Buford now turns to the company of famous chefs and Italian butchers. To learn what "kitchen slaves" really experience, he signed up for a total-immersion apprenticeship with gastronomic superstar Mario Batali. In this briskly paced narrative, Buford takes us behind the swinging doors into Babbo's kitchen; then departs on a transatlantic hunt for secrets about pasta; culinary training; fine cuts of meat; and exquisite gradations of ingredients.
From the Publisher
“Buford develops a superbly detailed picture of life in a top restaurant kitchen. . . Heat is a sumptuous meal.” —The New York Times“Delightful. . . . Charming. . . . [Buford’s] style is . . . happily obsessed with a weird subculture, woozily in love with both cooking and the foul-mouthed, refined-palette world of the chef.” —The Washington Post Book World“Exuberant, hilarious, glorying in its rich and arcane subject matter, Heat is Plimptonesque immersion journalism. . . . With Heat, we have a writer lighting on the subject of a lifetime.” —The Los Angeles Times Book Review
Julia Reed
There is something here for everyone. Anybody who enjoys characters will be drawn into the dramas of the Babbo kitchen cast and especially the antics of the loony Marco Pierre White, whom Buford visits several times. Dinner party cooks will understand the drive toward learning more and the gratification that derives from making other people happy. Those of us in our 40's will certainly understand the allure of re-examining your life and career, not to mention the romance of actually changing it, dramatically. Finally, many of us will also be consumed by jealousy. Heat is a remarkable journey — I only wish I'd thought to make it.
— The New York Times
Booklist
"Buford's mastery of the stove is exceeded only by his deft handling of English prose."
Warren Bass
In Buford's delightful Heat, Batali is perfectly cast as the ringleader to this kind of circus -- the sort of bruiser who, if he finds a sacred cow, is likely to serve it up medium rare. Chefs are "some of the world's nuttiest people," Buford notes, and Batali rules by sheer force of his personality over the tough, burly crew of eccentrics -- full of curses, bravado and liquor -- who produce Babbo's exquisite food. "Wretched excess is just barely enough," runs one of his mantras; he's Falstaff with a spatula.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Buford's voice echoes the rhythms of his own writing style. Writing about his break from working as a New Yorker editor and learning firsthand about the world of food, Buford guns his reading into hyperspeed when he is jazzed about a particularly tangy anecdote, and plays with his vocal tone and pitch when mimicking others' voices. At its base, Buford's voice is tinged with a jovial lilt, as if he is amused by his life as a "kitchen slave" and by the outsize personalities of the people he meets along the way. Less authoritative than blissfully confused, Buford speaks the way he writes, as a well-informed but never entirely knowledgeable outsider to the world of food love. Listening to his imitation of star chef Mario Batali's kinetic squeal, Buford ably conveys his abiding love for the teachers and companions of his brief, eventful life as a cook. Simultaneous release with the Knopf hardcover. (Reviews, Apr. 3). (May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Part memoir, part ethnography of a subculture, this engagingly recounts Buford's (Among the Thugs) three years as an apprentice at Babbo, one of Mario Batali's New York City restaurants. Readers familiar with other culinary memoirs will not be surprised by the gritty reality of life in the kitchen, but what sets Buford apart is that he is an outsider, a journalist who is allowed to live among the chefs for a short time. Through his eyes, we see what "heat" truly is and why so many cooks have a penchant for Dante: cooking is hell. The pacing is quick, and the writing often mirrors the intensity of the kitchen. The author's journey transforms him from bumbling peon to competent line cook, from contemplative pasta maker to culturally sensitive apprentice. A well-seasoned cast of characters rounds out this culinary odyssey. A solid addition recommended for most libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/06.]-Rosemarie Lewis, Broward Cty. P.L., Ft. Lauderdale, FL Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Could loving to cook translate into being a professional under the tutelage of the famous chef of a three-star New York restaurant? Buford jumped at the chance to find out. This energetic account of his intense culinary education brings readers into the scalding kitchens where fine food is prepared by obsessive chefs for whom timing is critical and cooking is art. The author entwines the history of pasta with his preparation of it, and he visits the theory that it was the Italians who brought fine cooking to France rather than the other way around. Buford follows the example of his mentors as he travels to Italian villages to serve as kitchen slave to a master of pasta-making and as an apprentice to a butcher to learn to perfect that culinary craft. A journalist for the New Yorker, the author writes with the same gusto with which he cooks. Readers learn how physically demanding professional cooking is, how hard it is on the ego, and how satisfying it can be. This is the ultimate career book for would-be chefs, and a book that noncooks will savor until the last word.-Ellen Bell, Amador Valley High School, Pleasanton, CA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Sara Dickerman
Because it's a story that begins from [Buford's] own gangly moment of apprenticeship, rather than a retrospective of a successful cooking career—and because he's a terrific writer—it's one of the most satisfying restaurant memoirs I have read.
—Slate
Kirkus Reviews
New Yorker staff writer and obsessed foodie Buford (Among the Thugs, 1992) infiltrates a top chef's kitchen to plumb Italian food as haute cuisine. The author worked as a lowly, often humiliated cooking intern at New York's celebrated Babbo restaurant-the "slave," as he puts it, of chef and partner Mario Batali. Buford sometimes has trouble not stooping to grovel when he brings the American-born, Italian-trained Batali onto the scene, but he nonetheless manages a full portrait of the celebrity chef as occasional paranoid, willful boor and megalomaniacal disciplinarian. The chef frequently assumed a highly visible seat at Babbo's bar, doing no cooking but sipping wine and making sure to be seen while the underlings he had molded labored in the kitchen to fulfill the promise of his innovative menus. Celebrated for personal excesses with food, drink and more, Batali serves as Buford's icon of culinary contradiction, railing against "faggoty French cooking," then, in a pensive lapse, affirming that only women are ultimately capable of "cooking with love." There was plenty for the author to learn as he bungled knife-sharpening, carrot-dicing and other basics, barely tolerated by professional colleagues who were often at each others' throats, all trying to master the art and get their own joints. Buford's experiences at Babbo led him to attempt the delicate art of pasta-making in Italy. Regrettably, his dogged inquiry into the historical transition that led to using eggs instead of water in the dough is a needless drag. After that, he apprenticed himself to a Tuscan butcher, beginning his studies with the pig but moving on to the cow in "graduate butcher school," where he learned the mantra,"It's not the breed. It's the breeding." As he pursues his culinary obsessions, Buford provides an abundance of esoterica on fine Italian cooking, as well as a lot of inside dope on some not-so-savory aspects of selling top-dollar restaurants to the public. Brightly rendered and sophisticated, as befits a New Yorker writer, but very uneven. First printing of 100,000
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400034475
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/26/2007
  • Series: Vintage Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 158,335
  • Product dimensions: 5.14 (w) x 7.98 (h) x 0.76 (d)

Meet the Author

Bill Buford is a Staff Writer and European Correspondent for The New Yorker. He was the Fiction Editor of the magazine for eight years, from April 1995 to December 2002. Before that he edited Granta magazine for sixteen years and, in 1989, became the publisher of Granta Books. He has edited three anthologies: The Best of Granta Travel, The Best of Granta Reportage, and The Granta Book of the Family. Bill is also the author of Among the Thugs (Norton, 1992), a highly personal nonfiction account of crowd violence and British soccer hooliganism. For The New Yorker, he has written about sweatshops, the singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams, and chef Mario Batali. Born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 1954, Bill Buford grew up in California and was educated at the University of California at Berkeley and at Kings College, Cambridge, where he was awarded a Marshall Scholarship for his work on Shakespeare's plays and sonnets. He lives in New York City with his wife, Jessica Green, and their two sons.
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Read an Excerpt

Linguine with Clams

If you're tempted to make linguine with clams according to the kitchen's preparation, you should understand that the only ingredient that's measured is the pasta. (A serving is four ounces.) Everything else is what you pick up with your fingertips, and it's either a small pinch or a large pinch or something in between: not helpful, but that, alas, is the way quantities are determined in a restaurant.

The downside of measuring by hand is what happens to the hands. At the end of an evening your fingertips are irretrievably stained with some very heady aromatics, and there's nothing you can do to eliminate them. You wash your hands. You soak them. You shower, you scrub them again. The next day, they still stink of onion, garlic, and pork fat, and, convinced that everyone around you is picking up the smell, you ram them into your pockets, maniacally rubbing your fingers against each other like an obsessive-compulsive Lady Macbeth.

Ingredients

small pinch of chopped garlic small pinch of chili flakes medium pinch of chopped onion medium pinch of pancetta olive oil butter white wine
4 oz. linguine per serving
A big handful of clams parsley

NOTE: the ingredients and preparations in this recipe are approximate—experiment with proportions to make it to your taste.

Begin by roasting small pinches of garlic and chili flakes and medium pinches of the onion and pancetta in a hot pan with olive oil. Hot oil accelerates the cooking process,and the moment everything gets soft you pour it away (holding back the contents with your tongs) and add a slap of butter and a splash of white wine, which stops the cooking. This is Stage One—and you are left with the familiar messy buttery mush—but already you've added two things you'd never see in Italy: butter (seafood with butter—or any other dairy ingredient—verges on culinary blasphemy) and pancetta, because, according to Mario, pork and shellfish are an eternal combination found in many other places: in Portugal, in amêijoas na cataplana (clams and ham); or in Spain, in a paella (chorizo and scallops); or in the United States, in the Italian-American clams casino, even though none of those places happens to be in Italy.

In Stage Two, you drop the pasta in boiling water and take your messy buttery pan and fill it with a big handful of clams and put it on the highest possible flame. The objective is to cook them fast—they'll start opening after three or four minutes, when you give the pan a swirl, mixing the shellfish juice with the buttery porky white wine emulsion. At six minutes and thirty seconds, you use your tongs to pull your noodles out and drop them into your pan—all that starchy pasta water slopping in with them is still a good thing; give the pan another swirl; flip it; swirl it again to ensure that the pasta is covered by the sauce. If it looks dry, add another splash of pasta water; if too wet, pour some out. You then let the thing cook away for another half minute or so, swirling, swirling, until the sauce streaks across the bottom of the pan, splash it with olive oil and sprinkle it with parsley: dinner.

The first glimpse I had of what Mario Batali’s friends had described to me as the “myth of Mario” was on a cold Saturday night in January 2002, when I invited him to a birthday dinner. Batali, the chef and co-owner of Babbo, an Italian restaurant in Manhattan, is such a famous and proficient cook that he’s rarely invited to people’s homes for a meal, he told me, and he went out of his way to be a grateful guest. He arrived bearing his own quince-flavored grappa (the rough, distilled end-of-harvest grape juices rendered almost drinkable by the addition of the fruit); a jar of homemade nocino (same principle, but with walnuts); an armful of wine; and a white, dense slab of lardo—literally, the raw “lardy” back of a very fat pig, one he’d cured himself with herbs and salt. I was what might generously be described as an enthusiastic cook, more confident than competent (that is, keen but fundamentally clueless), and to this day I am astonished that I had the nerve to ask over someone of Batali’s reputation, along with six guests who thought they’d have an amusing evening witnessing my humiliation. (Mario was a friend of the birthday friend, so I’d thought—why not invite him, too?—but when, wonder of wonders, he then accepted and I told my wife, Jessica, she was apoplectic with wonder: “What in the world were you thinking of, inviting a famous chef to our apartment for dinner? Now what are we going to do?”)

 

In the event, there was little comedy, mainly because Mario didn’t give me a chance. Shortly after my being instructed that only a moron would let his meat rest by wrapping it in foil after cooking it, I cheerfully gave up and let Batali tell me what to do. By then he’d taken over the evening, anyway. Not long into it, he’d cut the lardo into thin slices and, with a startling flourish of intimacy, laid them individually on our tongues, whispering that we needed to let the fat melt in our mouths to appreciate its intensity. The lardo was from a pig that, in the last months of its seven-hundred-and-fifty-pound life, had lived on apples, walnuts, and cream (“The best song sung in the key of pig”), and Mario convinced us that, as the fat dissolved, we’d detect the flavors of the animal’s happy diet—there, in the back of the mouth. No one that evening had knowingly eaten pure fat before (“At the restaurant, I tell the waiters to call it prosciutto bianco”), and by the time Mario had persuaded us to a third helping everyone’s heart was racing. Batali was an impressively dedicated drinker—he mentioned in passing that, on trips to Italy made with his Babbo co-owner, Joe Bastianich, the two of them had been known to put away a case of wine during an evening meal—and while I don’t think that any of us drank anything like that, we were, by now, very thirsty (the lardo, the salt, the human heat of so much jollity) and, cheered on, found ourselves knocking back more and more. I don’t know. I don’t really remember. There were also the grappa and the nocino, and one of my last images is of Batali at three in the morning—a stoutly round man with his back dangerously arched, his eyes closed, a long red ponytail swinging rhythmically behind him, an unlit cigarette dangling from his mouth, his red Converse high-tops pounding the floor—playing air guitar to Neil Young’s “Southern Man.” Batali was forty-one, and I remember thinking it had been a long time since I’d seen a grown man play air guitar. He then found the soundtrack for Buena Vista Social Club, tried to salsa with one of the women guests (who promptly fell over a sofa), moved on to her boyfriend, who was unresponsive, put on a Tom Waits CD instead, and sang along as he washed the dishes and swept the floor. He reminded me of an arrangement we’d made for the next day—when I’d invited Batali to dinner, he’d reciprocated by asking me to join him at a New York Giants football game, tickets courtesy of the commissioner of the NFL, who had just eaten at Babbo—and then disappeared with three of my friends, assuring them that, with his back-of-the-hand knowledge of downtown establishments open until five, he’d find a place to continue the evening. They ended up at Marylou’s in the Village—in Batali’s description, “A wise guy joint where you can get anything at any time of night, and none of it good.”

 

It was daylight when Batali got home. I learned this from his building superintendent the next morning, as the two of us tried to get Batali to wake up—the commissioner’s driver was waiting outside. When Batali finally appeared, forty-five minutes later, he was momentarily perplexed, standing in the doorway of his apartment in his underwear and wondering why I was there, too. (Batali has a remarkable girth, and it was startling to see him clad so.) Then, in minutes, he transformed himself into what I would come to know as the Batali look: the shorts, the clogs, the wraparound sunglasses, the red hair pulled back into its ponytail. One moment, a rotund Clark Kent in his underpants; the next, “Molto Mario”—the clever, many-layered name of his cooking television program, which, in one of its senses, literally means Very Mario (that is, an intensified Mario, an exaggerated Mario)—and a figure whose renown I didn’t appreciate until, as guests of the commissioner, we were allowed onto the field before the game. Fans of the New York Giants are so famously brutish as to be cartoons (bare-chested on a wintry morning or wearing hard hats; in any case, not guys putting in their domestic duty in the kitchen), and I was surprised by how many recognized the ponytailed chef, who stood facing them, arms crossed over his chest, beaming. “Hey, Molto!” they shouted. “What’s cooking, Mario?” “Mario, make me a pasta!” At the time, Molto Mario was shown on afternoons on cable television, and I found a complex picture of the working metropolitan male emerging, one rushing home the moment his shift ended to catch lessons in braising his broccoli rabe and getting just the right forked texture on his homemade orecchiette. I stood back with one of the security people, taking in the spectacle (by now members of the crowd were chanting “Molto, Molto, Molto”)—this very round man, whose manner and dress said, “Dude, where’s the party?”

 

“I love this guy,” the security man said. “Just lookin’ at him makes me hungry.”

 

Mario Batali is the most recognized chef in a city with more chefs than any other city in the world. In addition to Batali’s television show—and his appearances promoting, say, the NASCAR race track in Delaware—he was simply and energetically omnipresent. It would be safe to say that no New York chef ate more, drank more, and was out and about as much. If you live in New York City, you will see him eventually (sooner, if your evenings get going around two in the morning). With his partner, Joe, Batali also owned two other restaurants, Esca and Lupa, and a shop selling Italian wine, and, when we met, they were talking about opening a pizzeria and buying a vineyard in Tuscany. But Babbo was the heart of their enterprise, crushed into what was originally a nineteenth-century coach house, just off Washington Square, in Greenwich Village. The building was narrow; the space was crowded, jostly, and loud; and the food, studiously Italian, rather than Italian-American, was characterized by an over-the-top flourish that seemed to be expressly Batali’s. People went there in the expectation of excess. Sometimes I wondered if Batali was less a conventional cook than an advocate of a murkier enterprise of stimulating outrageous appetites (whatever they might be) and satisfying them intensely (by whatever means). A friend of mine, who’d once dropped by the bar for a drink and was then fed personally by Batali for the next six hours, went on a diet of soft fruit and water for three days. “This guy knows no middle ground. It’s just excess on a level I’ve never known before—it’s food and drink, food and drink, food and drink, until you feel you’re on drugs.” Chefs who were regular visitors were subjected to extreme versions of what was already an extreme experience. “We’re going to kill him,” Batali said to me with maniacal glee as he prepared a meal for a rival who had innocently ordered a seven-course tasting menu, to which Batali added a lethal number of extra courses. The starters (all variations in pig) included lonza (the cured backstrap from the cream-apple-and-walnut herd), coppa (from the shoulder), a fried foot, a porcini mushroom roasted with Batali’s own pancetta (the belly), plus (“for the hell of it”) a pasta topped with guanciale (the jowls). This year, Mario was trying out a new motto: “Wretched excess is just barely enough.”

 

Batali was born in 1960 and grew up outside Seattle: a suburban kid with a solid Leave It to Beaver upbringing. His mother, Marilyn, is En-glish and French Canadian—from her comes her son’s flaming red hair and a fair, un-Italian complexion. The Italian is from his father, Armandino, the grandson of immigrants who arrived in the 1890s. When Mario was growing up, his father was a well-paid Boeing executive in charge of procuring airplane parts made overseas, and in 1975, after being posted to Europe, to supervise the manufacturing close-up, he moved his family to Spain. That, according to Gina, Mario’s youngest sibling, was when Mario changed. (“He was already pushing the limits.”) Madrid, in the post-Franco years (bars with no minimum age, hash hangouts, the world’s oldest profession suddenly legalized), was a place of exhilarating license, and Mario seems to have experienced a little bit of everything on offer. He was caught growing marijuana on the roof of his father’s apartment building (the first incident of what would become a theme—Batali was later expelled from his dorm in college, suspected of dealing, and, later still, there was some trouble in Tijuana that actually landed him in jail). The marijuana association also evokes a memory of the first meals Batali remembers preparing, late-night panini with caramelized locally grown onions, a local cow’s-milk Spanish cheese, and paper-thin slices of chorizo: “The best stoner munch you can imagine; me and my younger brother Dana were just classic stoner kids—we were so happy.”

 

By the time Batali returned to the United States in 1978 to attend Rutgers University, in New Jersey, he was determined to get back to Europe (“I wanted to be a Spanish banker—I loved the idea of making a lot of money and living a luxurious life in Madrid”), and his unlikely double major was in business management and Spanish theatre. But after being thrown out of his dorm, Batali got work as a dishwasher at a pizzeria called Stuff Yer Face (in its name alone, destiny was calling), and his life changed. He was promoted to cook, then line cook (working at one “station” in a “line” of stations, making one thing), and then asked to be manager, an offer he turned down. He didn’t want the responsibility; he was having too good a time. The life at Stuff Yer Face was fast (twenty-five years later, he still claims he has the record for the most pizzas made in an hour), sexy (“The most booooootiful waitresses in town”), and very buzzy (“I don’t want to come off as a big druggy, but when a guy comes into the kitchen with a pizza pan turned upside down, covered with lines of crack, how can you say no?”). When, in his junior year, he attended a career conference hosted by representatives from major corporations, Batali realized he had been wrong; he was never going to be a banker. He was going to be a chef.

 

“My mother and grandmother had always told me that I should be a cook. In fact, when I was preparing my applications for college, my mother had suggested cooking school. But I said, ‘Ma, that’s too gay. I don’t want to go to cooking school—that’s for fags.’ ” Five years later, Batali was back in Europe, attending the Cordon Bleu in London.

 

His father, still overseeing Boeing’s foreign operations, was now based in England. Gina Batali was there, too, and recalls seeing her eldest brother only when she was getting ready for school and he was returning from his all-night escapades after attending classes during the day and then working at a pub. The pub was the Six Bells, on the King’s Road in Chelsea. Mario had been bartending at the so-called American bar (“No idea what I was doing”), when a high-priced dining room opened in the back and a chef was hired to run it, a Yorkshire man named Marco Pierre White. Batali, bored by the pace of cooking school, was hired to be the new chef’s slave.

 

Today, Marco Pierre White is regarded as one of the most influential chefs in Britain (as well as the most foul-tempered, most mercurial, and most bullying), and it’s an extraordinary fortuity that these two men, both in their early twenties, found themselves in a tiny pub kitchen together. Batali didn’t understand what he was witnessing: his restaurant experience had been making strombolis in New Brunswick. “I assumed I was seeing what everyone else already knew. I didn’t feel like I was on the cusp of a revolution. And yet, while I had no idea this guy was about to become so famous, I could see he was preparing food from outside the box. He was a genius on the plate. I’d never worked on presentation. I just put shit on the plate.” He described White’s making a deep green puree from basil leaves and then a white butter sauce, then swirling the green sauce in one direction, and the white sauce in the other, and drawing a swerving line down the middle of the plate. “I had never seen anyone draw fucking lines with two sauces.” White would order Batali to follow him to market (“I was his whipping boy—’Yes, master,’ I’d answer, ‘whatever you say, master’ ”) and they’d return with game birds or ingredients for some of the most improbable dishes ever to be served in an English pub: écrevisses in a reduced lobster sauce, oysters with caviar, roasted ortolan (a rare, tiny bird served virtually breathing, gulped down, innards and all, like a raw crustacean)—“the whole menu written out in fucking French.”

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Reading Group Guide

1. Buford says, “I came to regard the prep kitchen as something like a culinary boot camp” [p. 18]. In what ways do the other chefs, Elisa in particular, appear almost militaristic in their approach to cooking? How does Buford’s description of the psychical exhaustion he endues help convey the similarities between the Babbo kitchen and boot camp?

2. Throughout Heat, Buford describes himself as a “kitchen bitch” and “kitchen slave.” What does he mean? Do you agree with his assessment of his status in the kitchen of Babbo?

3. Mario Batali tells Buford, “You learn by working in the kitchen. Not by reading a book or watching a television program or going to cooking school” [p. 10]. While Batali has done this in his own career, he is also the host of several cooking shows and author of several cookbooks. Do you agree that the best way to learn to cook is in the kitchen? What have you learned from cooking shows and cookbooks?

4. In what ways does Batali’s celebrity affect his interactions with the staff of Babbo? How is this especially noticeable in his dealings with Andy?

5. Do you think that Buford is correct in his assessment that Marco Pierre White is the first person to show Mario Batali what a chef could be? Why do you think Batali and White were unable to work together?

6. When the Babbo cookbook is about to be published, Batali tells his staff that they will have to come up with new recipes since all of the secrets of Babbo will be revealed. Would knowing a restaurant’s recipes alter your dining experience? Why or why not?

7. Dario and Batali try to waste as little as possible. Likewise, when Buford brings home the pig from the green market, he uses all of it except for the lungs. Aside from the obvious financial motivations, why are all of these men unwilling to let any food go to waste?

8. Buford is completely flummoxed by the lack of interest among the professionals he encounters in the history of pasta. Why do you think Buford is so obsessed with finding out when the egg first appeared in pasta dough? In what ways does he differ from the professionals that he encounters?

9. Throughout Heat, Buford argues that “food is a concentrated messenger of a culture” [p. 25]. What are some of the examples he gives to illustrate his point? Can you think of any examples of this in your own life?

10. Buford goes to Nashville as part of the Babbo kitchen team to assist in the preparation for a benefit dinner. How is this a turning point for him?

11. Before Betta teaches Buford how to make tortellini according to her recipe, she repeatedly makes him promise not to share her recipe with Batali. Why is she so emphatic about this request? Do you think that Betta is right to resent Batali’s success?

12. Dario sees himself not as a businessman or butcher but, rather, as an artisan. How does this impact the way that he runs his shop and interacts with his customers? What does Buford mean when he calls Dario “an artist, whose subject was loss” [p. 281]?

13. Has Heat changed your views on dining out and the world of professional cooking? If so, how?

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 38 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 21, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    fun and entertaining!

    this book was a great read! lots of behind the scenes info and hilarious stories. makes me hungry for delicious food! Mario is a fascinating character.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 27, 2009

    A fun read for anyone who loves food!

    I've sent this book on to all my "gourmetsky" friends.
    I found myself laughing out loud at some of the wonderful writing in here.
    If you loved "Kitchen Confidential" I'm sure you'll love this too -- maybe even more.
    EnjoY!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 23, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    deliciously entertaining

    funny and obsessive about food and how it is prepared. wonderful precise writing. best, probably, for those already interested in food.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2009

    Foodie Comedy

    "Heat" is a wonderful book. The author pulls you into his life and you become so interested that you can't wait to turn the page and see what happens next for him. All the while, the book leaves you laughing out loud while providing some intersting food history and commentary on current foodie topics.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2007

    Makes Me Want To Eat!

    When I first heard about this book I knew I had to read it! Recently food has interested me more and I thought this book would be interesting for the new foodies (like me!) or the old timers that have been involved with food for a while. This book Heat by Bill Buford talks about the passion that he has about wanting to find out how to make the foods that he always has eaten but never has made or has ever thought about making. Bill Buford is a retired New Yorker writer and sporadically writes for the magazine. Soon after he left the New Yorker he decided to work his way up the kitchen food chain in Mario Batali¿s restaurant Babbo in New York City. He figures out just how hard you have to work when you are a cook/chef and must work to get to the recognition that most chefs would like to achieve. He makes and participates in many special preparations of different food such as polenta, pasta, making the perfect pasta sauce, and how to butcher meat perfectly. While learning how to make pasta he travels to Italy to learn the authentic was to prepare this dish. Not only does this book have mouth watering food descriptions but is also a book about traveling and finding the roots of old time favorite foods that everyone has eaten but has never known about where it comes from or how to prepare it. If you have any sort of interest in food or even not the slightest interest in food than I still think this book will be worth the read and will also certainly gets your mouth watering!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2007

    Succulent!

    One of my all time favorites in non-fiction funny, engaging, peopled with wild characters and superb recipes and culinary tips. A must have for any foodie! I think I'll read it again!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2006

    Hot

    This books is spectacular. A marvelous achievement. I have made a few of the 'recipes' he describes with great success. The book has one flaw I can find -- no index! I will have to reread and create my own unless that is coming in future editions. [Note to Publisher: You will sell more copies if you include an index ¿ I will definitely buy a second for myself.]

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2006

    Characters from Life: large and small

    Mario Batali may have achieved ubiquity but the characters Bill Buford recreates for us on the page are more omnipotent than Mario in their own approach to traditional Italian food. Imagine a backroom butcher in Tuscany referred to as the Maestro. Bill Buford beautifully weaves Mario¿s calling to recreate the food of Italian masters with Buford's own calling ¿ initially disguised as research to write about a rock n¿ roll chef and his kitchen. You can¿t help but wonder if Mario, as well as all the characters, read the final draft and, if so, if they would still welcome Buford into their kitchens. We are pulled in to the process of making quality, hand-touched food and anxiously await the next book. By the way, Buford, inadvertently, may have done more for the grass-fed beef movement in his wonderful to read book Heat than even Michael Pollen in The Carnivore¿s Dilemma.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 18, 2012

    Like cooking? Read it.

    This is one wild ride through a journalists obsession. What becomes clear is that anyone who takes food seriously MUST be obsessed. The skill, energy, information, creativity, and sheer number of hours required to understand anything about good food prep is overwhelming. Buford goes the whole way, and finally trains to handle meat from an old-school butchering family in Italy. The book is a fast paced, interesting trip from obsessed novice to skilled food man. Martha Stewart devotees need not pick it up, the testosterone and adventure would be too much. Have fun!

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  • Posted September 9, 2011

    Witty and inspirational

    Would read over and over

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  • Posted May 5, 2011

    I saw dario and mario

    Thus book prepared me for experiences at babbo and in panzano. It is an enthralling read.

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  • Posted October 11, 2010

    A must read for those who love to cook

    Heat tells two great stories throughout the book. The first is a biography of the great Mario Batali. The second is Bill Buford's experience after he quit his job at the New York Times to work as an apprentice at Mario's top New York restaurant Babbo. The Biography is spectacular because it lets you really get into the mind of a great chef. You discover that Batali is not the mild mannered person he appears to be on food network but instead a crazy, loud, drinking and cursing hot head Italian. The story of Batali also shows how he worked his way up from an apprentice at a pizzeria called Stuff Yer Face, to one of the most famous Italian chefs in the entire world. Buford's journey through the kitchen is interesting. He meets a wide variety of interesting chef's ranging from Elsa an aspiring pastry chef who would do anything to rank up in the kitchen, to the famous Marco Pierre White Batali's ex partner who is even crazier than he is and probably says the f word at least a thousand times in one chapter. This book is great because if you like to cook then it tells you so much information. Each chapter is loaded with information like the food revolution in San Francisco to how the New York short rib craze got started. You also meet a wide variety of characters throughout the book ranging from Dario Cechinni the crazy Dante-quoting butcher from Tuscany to Memo the gigantic Samoan sou's chef at Babbo. The best part of this book is I guarantee you will find yourself laughing out loud many times throughout. This book is also great for information I myself found many new kitchen techniques and tips that I now use when I cook. The only thing that I disliked about this book is it jumps around quite a bit and a very wide amount of characters are introduced, so read slowly and pay attention if you want to keep up. This book is one of my personal all time favorites, if you like to cook you'll love this book I guarantee it.

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  • Posted March 9, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Great Book!

    This book is very entertaining and enlightening with behind the scenes information. I will never waste the tops of celery again, and I love Mario Batali even more than I did before. It is amazing what happens in the kitchen. I truly love this book and recommend it for anyone that loves to cook.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2008

    I was convinced this book would eventually get better

    I was immediately drawn to this book since I am a person who really enjoys cooking (for fun/relaxation) and I was curious to read about a behind the scenes looking into Batalis kitchen. Well, I tell you what, I am an avid reader and I can not get through this book! I have slugged through it on and off (reading at least 12+ books in between) since the middle of summer (its now Jan). There just isn't anything that really grabs you. A few of the lines about Buford in the kitchen are well versed, but the book on the whole was a HUGE disappointment. It did not envoke any real reaction from me and it certainly didn't make me want to eat! You are better off taking a big PASS over this one. I dont think Buford should have expanded on his James Beard Award-Winning NYT article.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2007

    Bla

    While witty it just isn't enough to sustain a book of this length. I expected to love this book and did for the first 50 pages. After that it flipped back and forth between amusing and dreadful.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2006

    What a fun guy!

    This book is the best. At times I laughed until I cried. What a talented writer! Do yourself a favor and order your copy of this book today. Be prepared to be entertained!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 38 Customer Reviews

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