The death of Anthony Bourdain shocked the entertainment and food communities, who revered the outspoken chef and host of CNN’s Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown for his unorthodox vision on the world of food and travel.
Bourdain came to culinary fame as the Executive Chef at famed New York eatery Les Halles. He was also an exemplary writer, whose books were featured on the New York Times Bestseller lists. He told tales of the wild and unpredictable restaurant world as well as his travel tales in tomes that mimicked the visionary tone of his television shows No Reservations, A Cook’s Tour, The Layover, and Parts Unknown.
Here are four classic Anthony Bourdain books that celebrate his love of food.
1. Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly
The chef’s take on a behind-the-scenes look at the excitement and drama that goes on in the kitchen while customers eat dinner was chronicled in Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly. It also detailed Bourdain’s rise to the position of Executive Chef at Les Halles in New York City and his humble beginnings as a dishwasher in several small Massachusetts eateries.
Kitchen Confidential allowed the reader behind the kitchen doors of some of the most influential restaurants in the New York area and the dos and don’ts of how to get the most for your money as a patron from your crew of “tired” and “worn out” chefs. Bourdain said in the book, “If a restaurant is known for steak, and doesn’t seem to be doing much business, how long do you think those few orders of clams and mussels and lobster and fish have been sitting in the refrigerator, waiting for someone like you to order it?”
2. Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine To The World Of Food And The People Who Cook
In Medium Raw, Bourdain took several potshots at other “celebrity chefs” as well as his own television persona as he once again, attempted to take readers on an in-depth journey into the underbelly of the restaurant business.
Medium Raw tracked the chef’s own strange and unexpected voyage from journeyman cook to globe-traveling professional eater and drinker, and even to fatherhood. In the book, he rants, investigates, and tells tales on some of the most controversial figures in the food world including Guy Fieri, Rachael Ray, Wolfgang Puck, Sandra Lee, Gordon Ramsay, Alice Waters, Alain Ducasse, and Emeril Lagasse.
3. Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook
If you truly want to learn about Bourdain’s clear love for French cuisine, look no further than Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook, which features some of the most famous restaurant items of the now-defunct Les Halles in New York City. The restaurant closed its doors for good in 2017, but Bourdain’s take on their classic French food is a mouthwatering escape.
In the tome, Bourdain states, “This book aims to be a field manual to strategy and tactics, which means that in the following pages, I will take you by the hand and walk you through the process in pretty much the same way as I would a new recruit in my restaurant kitchen. Which means that if, from time to time, I refer to you as a ‘useless screwhead’ I will expect you to understand and not to take it personally.”
4. No Reservations: Around The World On An Empty Stomach
Anthony Bourdain was one of the first chefs to step out of the kitchen and devote entire episodes of his original series No Reservations, which originally aired on E! Entertainment Television and eventually found a home on CNN, to exploring a region’s culture and how it pertained to food.
In No Reservations: Around The World On An Empty Stomach, the chef traveled the globe to explore the ways in which food helped to bring people together. The book traces his trips mixing beautiful, never-before-seen photos and mementos with Bourdain’s outrageous commentary, and most importantly, details what really happens when you give a bad-boy chef an open ticket to the world.
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