by Bill Buford
Appetite by Random House
Heat: An Amateur’s Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany
A sharp, funny, informative and deliciously captivating book about writer, Bill Buford’s year-in-training as a cook at Mario Batali’s famous New York restaurant, Babbo, his apprenticeship to a Tuscan butcher, and his quest to make the perfect pasta.
Highly acclaimed writer and editor, Bill Buford, left his job at The New Yorker for a most unlikely destination: the kitchen at Babbo, the revolutionary Italian restaurant created and ruled by superstar chef Mario Batali. 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, becoming–in his words–Batali’s “kitchen bitch.”
Bill started out of curiosity, of wanting to know how professional chefs cooked and in what ways that differed from what home cooks do. But he quickly became obsessed, and ended up spending a year “locked inside a hot, windowless room,” living “a weirdo life” while going through “kitchen boot camp” — “a long, arduous, confidence-bashing, profoundly humiliating experience.”
His love of Italian food then propelled him on journeys 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 narrative stuffed with insight and humor.