Or to give it it’s full title… “Heat: An Amateur’s Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany” That’s a bit of a mouthful and hard to remember so I’m gonna stick to calling it “Heat”.
To give an overview of this book is easy. It tracks a journalist’s journey from confident home cook into the world of the professional kitchen and onwards into an almost obsessive desire to learn as much as possible about food and food preparation.
But to do this is also to do no justice to either the story, the writing style or Bill Buford himself. There is an awful lot of wit that goes along with working long, hard and unusual hours (something I remember from a past life in the music business 😉 ) and this is reflected very well within the writing, there are parts of this book that are laugh out loud funny.
It gives a great insight into how a professional kitchen functions and also what it takes to make it as a chef at the highest level.
It’s not all about the author’s time in the Babbo kitchen though as it charts his time spent in Italy learning the traditional methods of Italian cooking and following in Mario Batali‘s (Babbo’s owner and head chef) footsteps, in fact some of the best moments in the book are comments about Mario’s progress in the culinary world by his former mentors.
Now this struck a chord with me, in fact, if I got to live out this book over the next few years it would be a dream come true. It’s something I’m trying to do myself at the moment, move into a professional kitchen. Yes, the applications are in for various college courses at different levels and I’ve been trying to find “kitchen slave” work myself but that’s another day’s story 😉
Even if you don’t aspire to a life in a professional kitchen this is a wildly entertaining and informative read that I would heartily recommend.