An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany
Featuring: Bill Buford; Mario Batali
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Bill Buford—author of the highly acclaimed best-selling
Among the Thugs—had long thought of himself as a reasonably
comfortable cook when in 2002 he finally decided to answer a
question that had nagged him every time he prepared a meal:
What kind of cook could he be if he worked in a professional
kitchen? When the opportunity arose to train in the kitchen
of Mario Batali’s three-star New York restaurant, Babbo,
Buford grabbed it. Heat is the chronicle—sharp, funny,
wonderfully exuberant—of his time spent as Batali’s “slave”
and of his far-flung apprenticeships with culinary masters
In a fast-paced, candid narrative, Buford describes the
frenetic experience of working in Babbo’s kitchen: the
trials and errors (and more errors), humiliations and hopes,
disappointments and triumphs as he worked his way up the
ladder from slave to cook. He talks about his relationships
with his kitchen colleagues and with the larger-than-life,
hard-living Batali, whose story he learns as their
friendship grows through (and sometimes despite) kitchen
encounters and after-work all-nighters.
Buford takes us to the restaurant in a remote Appennine
village where Batali first apprenticed in Italy and where
Buford learns the intricacies of handmade pasta . . . the
hill town in Chianti where he is tutored in the art of
butchery by Italy’s most famous butcher, a man who insists
that his meat is an expression of the Italian soul . . . to
London, where he is instructed in the preparation of game by
Marco Pierre White, one of England’s most celebrated (or
perhaps notorious) chefs. And throughout, we follow the
thread of Buford’s fascinating reflections on food as a
bearer of culture, on the history and development of a few
special dishes (Is the shape of tortellini really based on a
woman’s navel? And just what is a short rib?), and on the
what and why of the foods we eat today.
Heat is a marvelous hybrid: a richly evocative memoir of
Buford’s kitchen adventure, the story of Batali’s amazing
rise to culinary (and extra-culinary) fame, a dazzling
behind-the-scenes look at the workings of a famous
restaurant, and an illuminating exploration of why food matters.
It is a book to delight in—and to savor.
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