On Living Dangerously – A Review of Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly

I was first introduced to Anthony Bourdain in 2016 by watching his Parts Unknown digital series. This series revolved around travel and food, easily two of my favorite things. So, it wasn’t hard to draw my attention to this show – I was all in. We explored different cultures and cuisines with Tony, saw through unfiltered lenses of surrounding areas of the territories in its barest forms. He would go into restaurants with a completely open mind well-knowing he would be presented with something completely foreign to him; and he was ok with it. He would fully accept each bite and flavor profile. And, I loved that about him. His interviews with fellow chefs of restaurants from different areas around the world also gave us a glimpse into their lifestyles and to the status of their state/country. It was honest. It was vivid. It was delicious. This book fell nothing short of exactly that.

Your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.

This line alone speaks to me. It says, keep an open mind; always. Enjoy the ride that is life and don’t let anything hold you back from that pleasurable experience.

Tony was an unreliable character, but what author in their own memoir isn’t? He liked to live life dangerously and we got to experience that from his perspective. A few key things that I learned personally from his experiences in the kitchen are – always check the bathrooms in restaurants, be wary of Sunday Brunch, and never order fish on a Monday.

Bathrooms – easy to maintain cleanliness. Bourdain says – if something as easy as maintaining the cleanliness of bathrooms is overlooked … imagine how their kitchen and prep stations are kept? Yikes! I never thought of that but … yeah, makes a LOT of sense.

Sunday Brunch – luckily I’ve never been a fan. Don’t get me wrong, I love good food. Scratch that – I love food in general haha. But dressing up on Sunday mornings to go out and get brunch just wasn’t ever really my thing. Did it a few times but *meh* not really my thing. Bourdain says through his experience, that Sunday Brunch is merely a way for restaurants to dump all the leftovers from Friday and Saturday as to not put anything to waste. Gross! If I choose to eat out, I would prefer fresh food please. Not that leftover bs. No thanks!

Ordering Fish at Restaurants – Bourdain says that most establishments put in their fish orders on Thursdays for Friday shipment. So if you’re ordering fish … never order on Mondays. They’re getting ready to rid the fish from the previous week. I mean … I don’t know about Monday’s specifically as I’m sure each restaurant puts in their orders for varying days of the week. But, I guess it’s good to know when a restaurant usually places their orders so you will always get the freshest items. Or – he says, to watch out for fish/weekly specials because it’s a restaurant’s way of getting rid of stuff before it goes bad.

There were many more takeaways from this book, but these three stood out to me the most. I listened to the audiobook version which is read by Anthony Bourdain himself, and it definitely made it feel more personable.

“I’ll be right here. Until they drag me off the line, I’m not going anywhere; I hope. It’s been an adventure. We took some casualties over the years. Things got broken. Things got lost. But I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.” 

The closing lines to this wonderfully written memoir. In it, he also mentioned his substance/alcohol abuse which has ultimately led to his depression. And though he was open about it, it didn’t seem he was cured; he wasn’t. Depression is ugly, it’s scary, it’s sad … and it took his life. Although he’s no longer with us, we are left with his amazing stories about food, travel, and a look at the restaurant biz beyond the menu.

Thanks Anthony Bourdain, and rest in peace ❤ 


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