An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta Maker, and Apprentice to A Dante-quoting Butcher in Tuscany

Book - 2006
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Random House, Inc.
Bill Buford—author of the highly acclaimed best-selling Among the Thugs—had long thought of himself as a reasonably comfortable cook when in 2002 he finally decided to answer a question that had nagged him every time he prepared a meal: What kind of cook could he be if he worked in a professional kitchen? When the opportunity arose to train in the kitchen of Mario Batali’s three-star New York restaurant, Babbo, Buford grabbed it. Heat is the chronicle—sharp, funny, wonderfully exuberant—of his time spent as Batali’s “slave” and of his far-flung apprenticeships with culinary masters in Italy.

In a fast-paced, candid narrative, Buford describes the frenetic experience of working in Babbo’s kitchen: the trials and errors (and more errors), humiliations and hopes, disappointments and triumphs as he worked his way up the ladder from slave to cook. He talks about his relationships with his kitchen colleagues and with the larger-than-life, hard-living Batali, whose story he learns as their friendship grows through (and sometimes despite) kitchen encounters and after-work all-nighters.

Buford takes us to the restaurant in a remote Appennine village where Batali first apprenticed in Italy and where Buford learns the intricacies of handmade pasta . . . the hill town in Chianti where he is tutored in the art of butchery by Italy’s most famous butcher, a man who insists that his meat is an expression of the Italian soul . . . to London, where he is instructed in the preparation of game by Marco Pierre White, one of England’s most celebrated (or perhaps notorious) chefs. And throughout, we follow the thread of Buford’s fascinating reflections on food as a bearer of culture, on the history and development of a few special dishes (Is the shape of tortellini really based on a woman’s navel? And just what is a short rib?), and on the what and why of the foods we eat today.

Heat is a marvelous hybrid: a richly evocative 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 the workings of a famous restaurant, and an illuminating exploration of why food matters.

It is a book to delight in—and to savor.

Baker & Taylor
A staff writer for The New Yorker and author of Among the Thugs offers an exuberant, witty account of his entry into the world of a professional cook-in-training, documenting his experiences in the kitchen of Mario Batali's acclaimed restaurant Babbo, his apprenticeships with Batali's former teachers, his relationship with Batali, and his immersion in the world of food. 100,000 first printing.

& Taylor

Writer Buford's memoir of his headlong plunge into the life of a professional cook. Expanding on his award-winning New Yorker article, Buford gives us a chronicle of his experience as "slave" to Mario Batali in the kitchen of Batali's three-star New Yorkrestaurant, Babbo. He 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.--From publisher description.
The author offers an account of his entry into the world of a professional cook-in-training, documenting his experiences in the kitchen of Mario Batali's restaurant Babbo and his apprenticeships in Italy with Batali's former teachers.

Publisher: New York : Knopf, 2006
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9781400041206
Branch Call Number: 641.5945 Buford 2006
Characteristics: 318 pages ; 25 cm


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Sep 08, 2012

This was such an enjoyable read! The subject matter was interesting - from learning the ropes in a professional kitchen in NYC, to learning butchery in Tuscany from "the word's most famous butcher", and insights into the history of our relationship with food. Buford manages to combine fact with humour, making this an informative and entertaining book.

debwalker Mar 23, 2011

Screenwriter Stan Chervin and producer Rachael Horovitz have optioned Bill Buford's 2006 memoir Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker and Apprentice to a Dante-quoting Butcher in Tuscany, Deadline.com reported.

Feb 26, 2011

There isn't much literature about the reality of kitchen life, Buford holds little back. His honest account and sincere interest is refreshing. His enthusiasm for reality, contagious. I truly enjoyed this book!

Jan 21, 2010

This is the best of the

Dec 07, 2007

A fascinating combination of the "inside scoop" on some chef celebrities, behind the scenes in some famous restaurants, and a man's determination to learn all aspects of professional cooking, including an escapade involving the author hauling a 200-pound freshly killed pig up to his New York City high-rise apartment with an appalled businessman sharing his elevator. Readers will not be bored.

Sep 30, 2007

If you thought you knew anything about cooking, you will find this book a real eye-opener - as well as a fabulous read! Bill Buford takes us into the real Hell's Kitchens with a insider's insight into a life about which I now realize I knew nothing! - no idea about the amount or extent of the work involved in bringing a meal to my table - no idea of what Italian cooking is all about. A page-turner.

Oct 26, 2006

I enjoyed this book quite a bit. It's a great insight into what happens in a restaurant kitchen. I was surprised to find out that the TV show, Hells Kitchen, was not totally fiction. The book can be a bit graphic, but I found it to be well-written and a good read.


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