Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly

Version: Unabridged
Author: Anthony Bourdain
Narrator: Anthony Bourdain
Genres: Biography & Memoir
Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group
Published In: October 2005
# of Units: 7 CDs
Length: 8 hours, 20 minutes
Tell Your Friends:


Most diners believe that their sublime sliver of seared foie gras, topped with an ethereal buckwheat blini and a drizzle of piquant huckleberry sauce, was created by a culinary artist of the highest order, a sensitive, highly refined executive chef. The truth is more brutal. More likely, writes Anthony Bourdain in Kitchen Confidential, that elegant three-star concoction is the collaborative effort of a team of "wacked-out moral degenerates, dope fiends, refugees, a thuggish assortment of drunks, sneak thieves, sluts, and psychopaths," in all likelihood pierced or tattooed and incapable of uttering a sentence without an expletive or a foreign phrase. Such is the muscular view of the culinary trenches from one who's been groveling in them, with obvious sadomasochistic pleasure, for more than 20 years. CIA-trained Bourdain, currently the executive chef of the celebrated Les Halles, wrote two culinary mysteries before his first (and infamous) New Yorker essay launched this frank confessional about the lusty and larcenous real lives of cooks and restaurateurs. He is obscenely eloquent, unapologetically opinionated, and a damn fine storyteller--a Jack Kerouac of the kitchen. Those without the stomach for this kind of joyride should note his opening caveat: "There will be horror stories. Heavy drinking, drugs, screwing in the dry-goods area, unappetizing industry-wide practices. Talking about why you probably shouldn't order fish on a Monday, why those who favor well-done get the scrapings from the bottom of the barrel, and why seafood frittata is not a wise brunch selection.... But I'm simply not going to deceive anybody about the life as I've seen it." --Sumi Hahn

Reviews (21)


Written by Catherine C. on September 15th, 2018

  • Book Rating: 1/5

I appreciated his honesty, but he eliminated my agency as a person who is a vegetarian - and he sadly excluded me from eager inclusion in his magical story.


Written by David D. on July 9th, 2018

  • Book Rating: 5/5

This was a very realistic look at how many kitchens are behind the scenes, for all its glory and hardships. This was my first Anthony Bourdain book and I will have to read the others. He narrates the book perfectly, he gives you little tastes of what it feels like to be in a big time kitchen and really shows his love of food.

Kitchen Confidential

Written by Stephanie Howland on October 21st, 2016

  • Book Rating: 5/5

I love this book, and Anthony Bourdain. His narration was great, and over all a great entertaining book that helped pass the time during a road trip. I highly recommend to any fellow foodie out there.

Very entertaining

Written by Anonymous on May 18th, 2012

  • Book Rating: 4/5

Really enjoyed this frank and realistic look a the inside of the kitchen of some very good (and some not so good) New York restaurants. His writing is vivid and colorful, so that you feel like you're right there with him. However, note that if you object to bad language, you won't be happy with this book!

Interesting, but...

Written by Anonymous on January 11th, 2011

  • Book Rating: 3/5

The first couple CD's were interesting, but I lost interest and couldn't finish. If you love fancy foods, you might be more interested than me.

This book is spicey!

Written by Anonymous on August 12th, 2008

  • Book Rating: 4/5

Totally entertaining. Anthony Bourdain does a great job of narrarating and he had me laughing frequently. Enjoyable even for a reader who isn't interested in the culinary world.

Not a chef, but love this title

Written by Alaynè on June 23rd, 2008

  • Book Rating: 5/5

I am not a chef. As a matter of fact, I don't even use my stove at home. Nonetheless, I am loving this title by Anthony Bourdain. Each time I get in the car and listen to him talk about his many (mis)adventures in cooking, I find myself either laughing out loud or cringing at the thought at the next inevitable meal I will have at a local restaurant.

Raucous ride

Written by Anonymous on March 18th, 2008

  • Book Rating: 4/5

If you're not easily offended by foul language and low moral standards, this book is a raucous ride. I'm not sure how Bourdain survived to tell the tale, but he's a great story teller and an engaging narrator. I'd read the book awhile ago, but it was much more engaging to hear his voice, putting an entirely different spin on his colorful language. (His insults alone are worth the listen.) Aside from a short chapter on "professional kitchen tips," the purpose of the book is entertainment, and not insider advice on cooking or running a restaurant. Idle daydreams about someday opening a restaurant won't be so appealing after you listen to this one! Bourdain vividly paints a picture of the intensity of a professional kitchen, the odd characters drawn to the profession, and the sense of family that emerges when people work together under these conditions. You might even gain an appreciation of WHY that meal at your favorite "fine dining" establishment costs so much!

Worth a Listen

Written by George Smith from Dallas, TX on October 22nd, 2007

  • Book Rating: 4/5

First...I love Bourdain. He cuts to the chase about the world of food and restaurants...Particularly the one's in New York City. If anyone loves food or even is thinking about the "romantic notion" of owning a restaurant this is a must "listen" (or read). The only complaint is that it is 7 CD's a little too long and it gets a little repetitive.

real raw Boudain

Written by Anonymous on September 10th, 2007

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Loved this book, as a closet foodie I throughly enjoy Bourdain's dry & sardonic style. This book is the real commercial kitchen experience. BTDT. His occasional references to his person battles help to authentic & inspire , if they don't repulse you first. Word of warning if you are offended by profanity do not get. With his typical flair Bourdain rattles off a string of profanitites (he gives an example of how he would reprimand an employee) IF you are not easily offened and appreciate honest, real, insider stories. This would be a good choice for you .

Author Details

Author Details

Bourdain, Anthony

Anthony Bourdain is the author of the novels "Bone in the Throat" and "Gone Bamboo", in addition to the megabestseller "Kitchen Confidential" and "A Cook's Tour". His work has appeared in the "New York Times" and the "New Yorker", and he is a contributing authority for "Food Arts" magazine. He is the host of the popular television show "No Reservations".