Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly – Anthony Bourdain Book Summary

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly – Anthony Bourdain | Free Book Summary

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly – Anthony Bourdain

Kitchen Confidential is an insider’s look into the life in the culinary trade from Chef Anthony Bourdain.

Good line cooking

Professional-level cooking is not all about the best recipe or the most innovative presentation. Instead, it is “economy of movement, nice technique, and, most important of all, speed.”

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Line cooking is the real business of preparing food. It is more about consistency and mindless, unvarying repetition. Chefs rely on line cooks to execute flawlessly and without hesitation.

The three groups of line cooks

  • Artists are an “annoying, high-maintenance minority.” Their efforts, convinced of their own genius, are often less satisfying to the majority of dinner customers.
  • Exiles want to work a normal 9-to-5 or are refugees who prefer work to poverty.
  • Mercenaries are people who do it for cash and do it well. Cooking is a craft, and expertly practising your craft is noble, honourable, and satisfying.

American Chefs

American cooks are mostly lazy and egoistic.

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Non-Americans become well-paid and sought after by other chefs. They’ve worked their way up from the bottom and know what it’s like to scrape out plates and haul garbage out to the curb.

Mise-en-place is a cook’s workstation

A cook’s station and its condition are in a state of readiness. If you let your miss-emplace run down, get dirty and disorganised, you’ll quickly become overwhelmed.

What A Typical Mise-en-Place Contains

  • Kosher or sea salt
  • Crushed black peppercorns
  • Ground white pepper
  • Fresh breadcrumbs
  • Chiffonade parsley
  • Blended oil in a wine bottle
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • White wine
  • Brandy
  • Chervil tops in ice water for garnish
  • Chive sticks or chopped chives
  • Tomato concasse
  • Caramelized apple sections
  • Garlic confit
  • Chopped or slivered garlic
  • Chopped shallots
  • Softened butter
  • Favourite ladles, spoons, tongs, pans, pots

Tips On Eating Out

  • When to Eat Out: Tuesday is a great day to eat out. The chef is well-rested after a Sunday or Monday off.
  • Be polite to your waiter or waitress.
  • The brunch menu is usually made of “old nasty odds and ends”
  • Bread has likely been recycled from someone else’s table.
  • Good restaurants are clean, the cooks and waiters are well-groomed, and the dining room is busy.

Essential kitchen tools

  • A decent chef’s knife
  • A flexible boning knife. Get one made by Global.
  • Pairing knife
  • Offset serrated knife
  • Plastic Squeeze Bottle
  • Toothpicks
  • “A thin metal ring, or cut-down section of PVC pipe about an inch and a half tall and laying inches across for pretentious food presentation.
  • Pastry bag
  • Mandolin
  • Pots and pans
  • Stockpots, saucepans, and thick-bottomed sauté pans 

How to cook like a professional

Good food is most often, simple food. Some of the best cuisine in the world is a matter of three or four good, fresh ingredients.

Basic Kitchen Ingredients

  • Shallots – Use for sauces, dressings, and sauté items.
  • Butter – In a professional kitchen, it’s almost always the first and last thing in the pan.
  • Roasted garlic. Sliver it for pasta. Smash it with the flat but don’t put it through a press.
  • Chiffonade parsley for garnish. 
  • Stock is the backbone of good cooking.
  • Demi-glaze
  • Cervil, basil tops, chive sticks, mint tops, etc.

Smart restaurant ownership

Your chances of seeing a return on your investment are about one in five. 

Some people go into the restaurant business because of their egos. Friends encourage you to do it because you’re good at hosting dinner parties.

The most dangerous is getting into the business for love. 

Smart restaurant owners know from the start what they want. They are capable of doing well and know how much it will cost them at the outset. They also have a fixed idea of how long they’re willing to lose money before they pull the plug.

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