The book that helped define a genre: Heat is a beloved culinary classic, an adventure in the kitchen and into Italian cuisine, by Bill Buford, author of Dirt.
Bill Buford was a highly acclaimed writer and editor at the New Yorker when he decided to leave for a most unlikely destination: the kitchen at Babbo, one of New York City’s most popular and revolutionary Italian restaurants.
Finally realizing a long-held desire to learn first-hand the experience of restaurant cooking, Buford soon finds himself drowning in improperly cubed carrots and scalding pasta water on his quest to learn the tricks of the trade. His love of Italian food then propels him further afield: to Italy, to discover the secrets of pasta-making and, finally, how to properly slaughter a pig. Throughout, Buford stunningly details the complex aspects of Italian cooking and its long history, creating an engrossing and visceral narrative stuffed with insight and humor. The result is a hilarious, self-deprecating, and fantasically entertaining journey into the heart of the Italian kitchen.
Buford's book starts smartly he first met dynamic celebrity chef Mario Batali at a dinner party at his own home, where Batali sparkled until 3 a.m. and continues at a fast clip as he conceives the notion of becoming Batali's "kitchen slave." Buford wanted to profile Batali for the New Yorker but also wanted to learn about cooking; he would be a "journalist-tourist" in the boot camp of a "kitchen genius." His subject became an obsession, and over the next three years, he investigated a rich menu of subjects: what makes a three-star restaurant work; what it takes to be a TV food star; the techniques and history of Italian cooking, not just from library research but also from repeated trips to Italy to visit Batali's relatives. Terrific culinary writing tracks Buford's successive passions for short ribs, polenta, tortellini and then the butcher's art, Italian-style, of pig and cow. Along the way, to his own surprise, Buford found that he had become a kitchen insider. This is a wonderfully detailed and highly amusing book from the writer who once took an insider's look at English soccer hooligans in Among the Thugs. 100,000 first printing.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Not only an accurate description of restaurant life with a side rarely seen by guests, but also a culinary adventure that inspires. The adventure Buford is on, intermingled with the quest through history for Pasta, sparks another journey within for the reader beyond the book. The fascinating lineage of different chefs that shapes their art is equally inspiring. Here's to the peposo notturno and to finding that perfect egg.
You will be hungry from page one. A brilliant, easily readable, and intimately revealing view into the business of fine Italian restaurant cooking at the very highest levels. A feast for the soul.
An excellent novel if you ever wanted to know about the inner workings of a restaurant, of Chef Mario Batali, or of the true origins of pasta (really! Egg anyone?).
If you're an enthusiastic cook, more confident than competent (that is, keen but fundamentally clueless), then this is right for you.