From one of our most interesting literary figures – former editor of Granta, former fiction editor at The New Yorker, acclaimed author of Among the Thugs – a sharp, funny, exuberant, close-up account of his headlong plunge into the life of a professional cook.
Expanding on his James Beard Award-winning New Yorker article, Bill Buford gives us a richly evocative chronicle of his experience as “slave” to Mario Batali in the kitchen of Batali’s three-star New York restaurant, Babbo.
In a fast-paced, candid narrative, Buford describes three frenetic years of trials and errors, disappointments and triumphs, as he worked his way up the Babbo ladder from “kitchen bitch” to line cook . . . his relationship with the larger-than-life Batali, whose story he learns as their friendship grows through (and sometimes despite) kitchen encounters and after-work all-nighters . . . and his immersion in the arts of butchery in Northern Italy,
of preparing game in London, and making handmade pasta at an Italian hillside trattoria.
Heat is a marvelous hybrid: a 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 a famous restaurant, and an illuminating exploration of why food matters. It is a book to delight in, and to savour.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Most people can scramble an egg or make a grilled cheese. So what separates the casual home cook from an aspiring chef? According to Bill Buford, it’s a combination of supreme self-confidence and a maniacal attention to detail. When Buford, the former fiction editor at The New Yorker, meets celebrity chef Mario Batali, he’s so fascinated by the TV star’s uninhibited drive that he volunteers to become an unpaid “slave” in the fast-moving, high-pressure kitchen of Batali’s flagship restaurant, Babbo. As Buford moves from fleeting curiosity to full-fledged obsession—he butchers a 200-pound pig by himself in his tiny Manhattan apartment—a lengthy sojourn to Italy to work alongside a monklike butcher reveals a philosophical, even spiritual side to cooking. Narrator Michael Kramer really puts across Buford’s increasing enthusiasm as the author undergoes a life-changing transformation. Even if you don’t already know your way around a farmer’s market, Heat just might change the way you think about food and cooking.