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Kitchen Confidential [NOOK Book]


Kitchen Confidential reveals what Bourdain calls "twenty-five years of sex, drugs, bad behavior and haute cuisine."
Last summer, The New Yorker published Chef Bourdain’s shocking, "Don’t Eat Before Reading This." Bourdain spared no one’s appetite when he told all about what happens behind the kitchen door. Bourdain uses the same "take-no-prisoners" attitude in his deliciously funny and shockingly delectable book, sure to delight gourmands and philistines alike. From Bourdain’s ...
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Kitchen Confidential

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Kitchen Confidential reveals what Bourdain calls "twenty-five years of sex, drugs, bad behavior and haute cuisine."
Last summer, The New Yorker published Chef Bourdain’s shocking, "Don’t Eat Before Reading This." Bourdain spared no one’s appetite when he told all about what happens behind the kitchen door. Bourdain uses the same "take-no-prisoners" attitude in his deliciously funny and shockingly delectable book, sure to delight gourmands and philistines alike. From Bourdain’s first oyster in the Gironde, to his lowly position as dishwasher in a honky tonk fish restaurant in Provincetown (where he witnesses for the first time the real delights of being a chef); from the kitchen of the Rainbow Room atop Rockefeller Center, to drug dealers in the east village, from Tokyo to Paris and back to New York again, Bourdain’s tales of the kitchen are as passionate as they are unpredictable. Kitchen Confidential will make your mouth water while your belly aches with laughter. You’ll beg the chef for more, please.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596917248
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 12/10/2008
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 11,933
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Anthony Bourdain is the author of Bone in the Throat. This is his first work of non-fiction. He is the executive chef at Brasserie Les Halles in New York City.


Like all great chefs, Anthony Bourdain is a true jack-of-all-trades. Just as a truly skilled chef would not limit himself to, say, cooking risotto, Bourdain has approached his writing career in much the same way. His repertoire consists of comedic crime novels, autobiographical travelogues, exposes, and historical explorations -- not to mention a collection of tasty recipes.

Bourdain's career has been characterized by more unexpected twists and turns than one would find in one of his novels. After the native New Yorker graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, he opened his own classic French Bistro, Brasserie Les Halles. However, never satisfied with simply traveling a single avenue, Bourdain tried his hand at penning a novel. The results were wholly unexpected: A witty, gritty mob tale set in the Little Italy section of Manhattan, Bone in the Throat was published in 1995. Bourdain's second novel, Gone Bamboo, followed two years later, and once again the writer's innate knack for black humor was on full display. Publishers Weekly confidently christened him "a new master of the wiseass crime comedy."

Of course, by the time the public had placed Bourdain in a specific literary niche, he was already on to bigger game. In 1999, The New Yorker published "Don't Eat Before Reading This," his scathing exposé of conditions within certain New York restaurants. The article, which garnered wide attention, would ultimately evolve into the critically lauded full-length book Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly. Bourdain brought the same cutting humor and confident swagger that marked his novels to his first nonfiction work, establishing a distinct voice that followed him from genre to genre. Jumping from memoir (The Nasty Bits) to biography (Typhoid Mary: An Urban Historical) to culinary how-to (Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook), Bourdain served up his smartypants prose with the same skill he brought to his celebrated cuisine.

In the end, even as Bourdain continues to wear many hats -- master chef, restaurant entrepreneur, novelist, essayist, TV star -- his heart still lies in the kitchen. "When you've been a cook and chef for twenty-eight years, as I have, you never really look at the world from any other perspective," he told in 2002. "In many ways that's helpful with all the nonsense -- as one tends to have low expectations. For the time being -- I'm making it up as I go along and trying to enjoy the ride while it lasts."

Good To Know

When asked Bourdain who he would invite to "the ultimate dinner party," he responded with his typical deadpan flair, "Graham Greene, Iggy Pop, Kim Philby, Louise Brooks, Hede Massing" and would host it in "the squalid back room of the Siberia Bar in NYC."

You can add sitcom creator to Bourdain's long list of accomplishments. In 2005, FOX TV produced a comedy series based on his book Kitchen Confidential only to unceremoniously cancel the series before it even aired.

Bourdain can currently be seen traveling the world in search of the ultimate eating experience in his very own series Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations on the Discovery Channel.

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    1. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 25, 1956
    2. Place of Birth:
      New York, New York
    1. Education:
      High school diploma, Dwight Englewood School, 1973; A.O.S. degree, The Culinary Institute of America, 1978
    2. Website:


Things are different now.

When I wrote Kitchen Confidential, I was still working the line. I'd get up at 5 or 6 in the morning, light up a smoke, and start typing. I'd try to get in a couple of hours at the computer, then I'd drag a razor across my face, hail a cab and go straight to work. Usually, I'd work the saut&#eacute; station for lunch, do my orders in the afternoon, then hang around until nine or ten expediting. The chapter, Day In The Life is a pretty accurate representation of a typical Friday for me at that time.

So I didn't have time to craft artful lies and evasions even if I'd wanted to. I wasn't intending to write an expos&#eacute;, didn't want to "rip the lid off the restaurant business" and frankly couldn't have cared less about recycled bread or the whole "fish on Monday" thing. I was not -- and am not -- an advocate for change in the restaurant business. I like the business just the way it is. What I set out to do was write a book that my fellow cooks and restaurant lifers would find entertaining and true. I wanted it to sound like me talking, at say..ten P.M. on a Saturday night, after a busy dinner rush, me and a few cooks hanging around the kitchen, knocking back a few beers and talking shit. You will notice that the tone of the book is blustery, that there is rather more than a little testosterone on the page, that I make the occasional sweeping generalization. That was entirely intentional. Chefs, on occasion, are guilty of such things. I had no expectation that anyone -- other than a few burnt-out line cooks, curious chefs and tormented loners would ever read the thing.

Those who did read the book, I was determined, would not be saying, "This is bogus, mann..!" I did not want my colleagues wondering "What cooks talk like this? This is bullshit! Who is this fucking guy?" I wanted to write in Kitchenese, the secret language of cooks, instantly recognizable to anyone who has ever dunked french fries for a summer job, or suffered under the despotic rule of a tyrannical chef or boobish owner. I wanted my little memoir/rant to reflect the somewhat claustrophobic world-view of the professional cook -- that slightly paranoid, fiercely territorial mix of pride and resignation which allows so many of us to get up every morning and do the things we do. I did, to be honest, understand that there would be members of the general public upset by some of the things I talked about. The adversarial way we cooks tend to look at the civilians who fill our dining rooms, if desribed honestly, was bound to cause unhappiness - and a lot of people would rather not talk about some of the corner-cutting and "merchandising" so many of us have seen on our way up and way down the greasy pole. I just didn't care. I even liked the idea -- of goosing the general public a little. I hadn't really written the book for them anyway. This book was for cooks. Professional cooks.

The new celebrity chef culture is a remarkable and admittedly annoying phenomenon. While it's been nothing but good for business -- and for me personally, many of us in the life can't help snickering about it. Of all the professions, after all, few people are less suited to be suddenly be thrown into the public eye than chefs. We're used to doing what we do in private, behind closed doors. We're used to using language that many would find..well...offensive, to say the least. We probably got in the business in the first place because interacting with normal people in a normal workspace was impossible or unattractive to us. Many of us don't know how to behave in public -- and don't care to find out. Fans of our many TV chefs, and the multitudes of people identified as "foodies" have come to believe, it appears, that chefs are adorable, cuddly creatures who wear spotless white uniforms and are all too happy to give them a taste of whatever they're whipping up at the time. The truth, as professionals well know, us somewhat different. What's been lost in all this food-crazy, chef and restaurant-obsessed nonsense is that cooking is hard -- that the daily demands of turning out the same plates the same way over and over and over again require skills other than -- and less telegenic than -- catch-phrases and a talent for schmoozing.

"What has reaction been from your peers?" was the most asked question in the flurry of media attention that followed the publication of this book "Benedict Arnold! Alger Hiss" shrieked some writers. So-called "restaurant insiders" and "foodies" were said to be outraged. The truth? I have never had so many free meals and free drinks come my way in my life. Chefs who only a few months earlier I would not have considered myself worthy of laundering their socks, greeted me warmly, insisted on dragging me in to their kitchens to commiserate with their staffs. On book tour -- all over the US and United Kingdom -- in Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, Philly, DC, Boston -- in London, Glasgow, rural Bristol, Manchester, and elsewhere -- chefs and cooks would turn out for signings to say hello, share stories, lure me away to buy drinks. After too many meals on planes or out of hotel mini-bars (the book tour diet), I'd slip off to a restaurant in a strange city, sit down at the bar, order a beer and an appetizer - and strange and wonderful things would happen; amuse geules would appear, one course after another, appropriate glasses of wine, little tastes of cheese, desserts. I'd look over towards the kitchen, and some wise-ass cook - a total stranger would be giving me the thumbs-up from behind the kitchen door. Slophouses and temples of haute cuisine alike -- both here and abroad -- I'd see the same expressions on cooks' faces -- that wary, cynical, expect-the-worst-and-you'll-never-be-disappointed look so familiar to so many of us.

Yet, all of them were friendly.

And there were moments of real irony and wonder: One day, in my kitchen at Les Halles, the phone rang and some French guy is talking to me, inviting me up to his restaurant to meet, talk, have a little lunch. "Who is this?" I inquired. " It's Eric Ripert," the voice said. My knees turned to custard. This was like -- like...Joe Di Maggio calling up to say "Let's throw the ball around the back yard together, sport." Things were different, boy...I could see that now -- I got my heroes calling me up. Andre Soltner, funnily enough, after my assertion that he would most definitely not be inviting me on any ski weekends, in fact did invite me skiing. (Babe Ruth on line one!). Bob Kinkead, in spite of my egregiously misspelling his name in the hardback edition, was wonderful to me as soon as I wandered into his restaurant, and plied me with spectacular food. Norman Van Aken came calling, congratulated me and shared some stories of his own early years in the Wilderness. (He also asked me nicely to lay off his pal Emeril -- who, he informed me, is actually a very sweet, soft spoken guy who can actually cook). Gary Danko fed me for free. I don't think he'd read the book, but his cooks, a particularly piratical mob of pierced and scarred hooligans, seemed to like the book -- so he extended me great courtesy. Chefs with whom I'd thought I'd had nothing in common showed me there is indeed a shared mindset, an appreciation of the dark and adrenelin-jacked culture we all share.

I found myself the poster boy for bad behavior in the kitchen.

I'm asked a lot what the best thing about cooking for a living is. And it's this: To be a part of a subculture. To be part of a historical continuum, a secret society with its own language and customs. To enjoy the instant gratification of making something good with one's hands -- using all one's senses. It can be, at times, the purest and most unselfish way of giving pleasure (though oral sex has to be a close second).

Things are different now. I've changed. I've had to. I've learned, God help me, to behave -- for somewhat more extended periods of time than I'm used to. I can speak in sound bites when called upon to do so. I know what "back-end" and "points" refer to -- kind of. I have health insurance for the first time in my life. I'm actually current on my rent. And sadly, I work much, much less in my beloved kitchen at Les Halles. If I've betrayed anybody in my profession -- it's my cooks, who I feel I've abandoned as I swan around the world flogging my books on television. For a while, it looked like my tiny kitchen was going to be the most photographed part of America -behind Dealey Plaza. Angel, my garde-manger briefly considered getting a publicist, and Manuel, the fry guy, can now light a room, ("Try the peenk gel chef!") and every cook in my kitchen knows just when to suck in their gut for the camera. I'm the chef I always hated as a cook, always coming from or going to someplace else. My hands -- which I'm so proud of in the final pages of the book--are soft and lovely now--like a little baby girl's.

I suck.

I comfort myself that I was reaching the end of my usefulness as a line cook anyway. Too old, my knees getting bad from all those knee-bends into the low-boys, my expediting abilities diminished with age and the ravages of alcohol. They were going to be hauling me off to the glue factory anyway one of these days, I like to tell myself. Where the old chefs go. (What happens to old chefs anyway? Where do they go? I always imagined a scenario like in Goodfellas, you know--"Tony, you sit in the front seat there. Good. Let Steven sit in the back." Then BOOM! Two behind the ear. No such luck. Old chefs sell out. Or they die.)

Fortunately, the important people in my life have been completely unimpressed by swinging new Hefneresque vida loca, . " Hey, baby! I'm on CNN tonight! I'm a best-selling motherfuckin' author!" I'll tell my wife, who inevitably responds, " Yeah yeah yeah. What's on CourtTV?" Steven will call from Florida after yet another segment showing me grimacing at the camera and warning the dining public about the dangers of brunch. "You are soooo gay," he'll say. "You suck, dude." Then he'll turn up the volume on some fucking Billy Joel or Elton John song he's got on the radio -- just cause he knows how much I hate that shit.

Easily, the happiest development to come from all of this unexpected notoriety is the cooks I've been able to meet. The recognition that this thing of ours is worldwide -- that the outlaw spirit survives -- even in the kitchens of the best of chefs -- that somewhere, in the darkest part of their hearts, all cooks know how different they are from everybody else, and relish their apartness.

This book was a nice-sized score for me, after a long life living hand-to-mouth, bouncing around from restaurant to restaurant, hustling a living, any hopes of ataining the peaks of Culinary Olympus long abandoned. "Nice to see one of the home team win one," said a cook in Boston. The only people who seem to really hate me for this book are the folks who write articles on mayonnaise and "fun with french fries" for a living -- and of course vegetarians -- but they don't get enough animal protein to get really angry. Chefs and cooks -- even waitrons have been wonderful. I'd forgotten when I wrote this thing, how many people work in the restaurant business -- and as signifigantly, how many have at one time or another worked in the business. And whether they're now sitting behind a desk or piloting their own Lear jet, many of them apparently miss it. It was the last time they could say what they wanted in the workplace. The last time they could behave like savages, go home feeling proud and tired at the same time. The last time they could fuck somebody in the linen closet and have it not mean anything too serious. or stay out all night and wake up on the floor. The last time they found themselves close with people from every corner of the world, of every race, proclivity, religion and background. The restaurant business is perhaps, the last meritocracy -- where what we do is all that matters. I'm not even out of the life and I miss it already. I think I'll swing by Les Halles and do a little expediting. I feel safe there.

This is for the cooks.

November 20, 2000 New York City

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Customer Reviews

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 633 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 20, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Raunchy, Real and Right On the Money

    Not for the faint of heart. A raucous and raw trip inside the restaurant biz. From nuts and bolts to totally obscure characters, and sometimes disturbing andecdotes, Bourdain delights the senses and the mind with his hilarious and detailed tales of the dark side of the industry. with his own brand of smarts and charm he takes you through his childhood adventures in France up to owning his own succcesful restaurant in New York. He touches on Universal truths throughout the business as well as his own sometimes touching and oftentimes unreal personal experiences. For anyone who loves to dine, who works in restaurants or has thought about it, this is a must read. Never a dull moment.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2011

    If you love his TV show No Reservations you'll love this book.

    A very enjoyable and easy quick read... and I'm glad he went a little easier on Emeril towards the end.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2011

    Yikes! What an ego!

    You will get very tired of hearing about his sexual, and drug escapades. Would have been far more interesting with more behind the scenes stories.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Deliciously Grotesque!

    First off I have to say¿I love this man! Bourdain¿s book is arrogant, crude, bullying, and egotistical and I loved every word, every line, every put-down, and every cuss word! Though this book was filled with technical terms and names of chefs that I have never heard of, Bourdain mentions in the preface that the book was originally intended for other chefs¿not for the general layperson. I read it anyway.<BR/><BR/>I was introduced to Anthony Bourdain by a friend via his television show ¿No Reservations.¿ I immediately fell in love with his holier-than-thou, better-than-most attitude. Maybe it is the thrill and fascination of the ¿bad boy¿ but I could not stop watching the show. Discovering that he had written a book was the icing on the cake. <BR/><BR/>The book is not a summary or recollection of his travels through different countries, cultures, and foods with his show. I believe that is contained in another book. Instead this book was more of a memoir; Bourdain¿s journey through the culinary trenches and godforsaken kitchens. Bourdain reminisces over his childhood and the cold soup that awakened his taste buds, the oyster that aroused his ensuing passion for food. <BR/><BR/>Bourdain may be a condescending a**hole but he seems humbled by some of his experiences and the people he has admired over the years. I enjoyed the fact that he wrote an afterword that made certain apologies to some individuals he had criticized throughout his book and his time as a chef. However, a friend of mine hated the fact that he made apologies. She feels that if he is going to be a supercilious bastard he should make no apologies for such behavior. <BR/><BR/>This book detailed many disgusting habits of the kitchens he worked in. Bourdain provides the reader with thorough descriptions of foods he has cooked and foods he enjoyed eating¿and if you know Anthony Bourdain you know he enjoys some un-American fare. Eating the gelatinous goo from behind the eyeball of the fishhead he was enjoying has remained in my head. <BR/><BR/>The reader who picks up this book is in for an intense ride. A love of food, cooking, or Bourdain himself is recommended before delving into this six-course book. I definitely have no complaints about this book. But hey¿who am I? Just a lowly reviewer with an unsettling attraction to Anthony Bourdain that¿s who.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2001

    In a Fog is a Better Place for Me

    If this is reality in the kitchen, I'm glad I don't see it. I found the language repulsive and the author seems to have a very high opinion of himself. Had no desire to finish this reading this book.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 12, 2000

    Good pace, good details, a little sloppy

    I have read A Year at the CIA and some other books about professional cooking, but this one offered the most unvarnished insight into what really happens in the kitchen. If you have every wondered how all the food for your table arrives at the same time when the resturant is packed to the rafters, then this book will entertain you. It could also turn you into a Howard Hughes germaphobe as well. The only drawback is sloppy editing. The author uses the same methaphors and analogies throughout the book and they become repititious and distracting. Needed a fresh set of eyes.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2012


    Five stars for the writing. Three stars for the stories. One star for the insufferability of the author.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2012

    Enjoyable read

    I like Anthony Bourdains writing style and have always wanted to work in a kitchen. After reading this book I realized I could never cut it a fast paced culinary environment. Down and dirty portrayal of how it is to run a kitchen and the kind of people it attracts. If you like his writing style you like this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 1, 2011

    Good read

    I read this book after watching a season of his show. This is a good book to read if you want information on the inner workingds of the restaurant business. Beware that the author lives a pretty rowdy lifestyle an uses the language to describe it. Do not purchase if you are easily ofended.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 9, 2011

    Book and Beer.

    I had read somewhere that you would read quotes from this book out loud to friends. I didnt buy it, i'm not the type of person who would do that. But there i was drinking a beer and reading quotes from Bourdain and his understanding of spanish adj's derived from his kitchen staff to a friend. It was awesome... His interpretation of the language, different cultures, and terms were spot on. I was thinking in my head, "finally a man that gets it"...He understands the struggle of going from nowhere to somewhere, and adapting and surviving. That is Bourdain! a true tale of survival. Great book and goes well with a beer as well.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 24, 2011

    Brilliant piece about food and restaurants!

    I absolutely love Anthony Bourdain's humor. He's cynical, direct, and witty. I admire his approach on life, food, and people. I watched his "No Reservations" show and was immediately thrilled to find he wrote books as well. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Kitchen Confidential and had a hard time putting it down, probably one of his best works! I think he's a great writer, narrator, and commentator.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 27, 2014

    Highly recommend this book for aspiring chefs

    I am a kitchen apprentice. My chef made this required reading, but it was absolutely a thrill to read. Anthony Bordaine tells all, and then some. Reading this book has given me a thirst for this business that I find exhilarating.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2014


    Awesome book. Not for the light hearted

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  • Posted January 4, 2014

    Not for the squeamish

    I had read this fascinating biography before so I was happy to add it to my Nook library. Mr. Bourdain paints a very real picture of life as a professional chef.

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  • Posted January 4, 2014

    An AWESOME book! Tony rocks!!

    Takes a never-before-seen inside look at the food service industry. You'll learn so much about the inner workings that you never knew existed. Such humor, irreverence, adept articulation of the life in such an off-beat way. I couldn't put the book down. I just hope B & N makes available the updated version. Can't wait to read/buy but haven't been able to find it in the Nook "Shop".

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2013


    interesting book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 28, 2012


    I bought a copy for my brother-in-law who enjoys watching Anthony Bourdain's program, and I also bought a NOOK Book for myself. My brother-in-law has read more of it than I have. He reports it is very interesting and entertaining.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2012


    Read this book while in Culinary College and loved it!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2012


    Great, ffast read. Brutally honest, with strong voice!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 12, 2012

    HIghly recommended

    Very funny and insightful.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 633 Customer Reviews

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