Anthony Bourdain launched himself onto the literary landscape over a decade ago with his first culinary memoir 2000's Kitchen Confidential. He earned universal praise for his unabashed kitchen patois and deservedly so. Bourdain spent the previous 28 years sweating it out in kitchens from Provincetown to Park Avenue where he became the executive chef at Brasserie Les Halles, a rather informal joint where Idaho spuds find permanent home as some of New York City’s finest pommes frites.
It was not a complete surprise to the bookish set that Bourdain had a sort of brilliance for blarney; he was up to that point an unheralded author of fictional noir. Bourdain penned 1995’s Bone in the Throat and 1997’s Gone Bamboo. He had also contributed an article titled Don't Eat Before Reading This, to The New Yorker the previous year.
Since Kitchen Confidential, a lot has happened to Bourdain, most notably, a rise to stardom. He has stopped working in the kitchen and has been invited to restaurants and homes all over the world on and off of his television travelogue show, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations.
Medium Raw is Bourdain's latest essayist account of his life; that of a television star, and of his newfound access to elite chefs and kitchens, all admittedly being part of the spoils of stardom. He talks about the changes he has seen in the restaurant industry in the past decade, and congratulates and condemns other chefs you may or may not have heard of. Medium Raw is chock-full of Bourdain’s keen sense of cool, both self-referential and otherwise. If you are passionate about food in the least, just as Bourdain is, Medium Raw is a read you will not regret this Valentine’s Day.
Medium Raw, Kitchen Confidential, and Gone Bamboo are all available at the Mansfield Public Library.