An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany
Publication Date: May 30, 2006
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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.
Bill Buford is a staff writer for The New Yorker, where he was the fiction editor for eight years. He was the founding editor of Granta magazine and was also the publisher of Granta Books. His previous book, Among the Thugs, is a nonfiction account of crowd violence and British soccer hooliganism. He lives in New York City with his wife, Jessica Green, and their two sons.
- Buford says, "I came to regard the prep kitchen as something like a culinary boot camp." In what ways do the other chefs, Elisa in particular, appear almost militaristic in their approach to cooking? How does Buford's description of the psychical exhaustion he endures help convey the similarities between the Babbo kitchen and boot camp?
A GLOBE & MAIL BEST BOOK OF 2006
A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF 2006
“Sharing Buford’s table talk is a pleasure not to be passed up.” — Michael Redhill, The Globe and Mail
“Heat is a book about obsession, written by a man in the grip of one. It is fuelled by food, but food is not its only subject — love, sex, comradeship, terror and pain are all part of the story too.” —The Telegraph
“A dazzling and funny account of two magnificently mad years.” —The Guardian
“[Buford] excels at vibrantly colourful descriptive writing. . . . What shines through is the story of Bill Buford falling in love with food, and his passionate journey of learning.” —Vancouver Sun
“it is clear that Buford can hold his own with anyone in the foodie pedantry stakes…. Heat is a subtle, expletive-heavy, genuine account of a writer’s engagement with food…. [an] ultimately nourishing book.” —Times Literary Supplement
“A messy, brilliant book, a high-brow kitchen soap opera, which never skates over the characters’ flaws but is suffused with an infectious love of food and the people who devote their lives to it.” —The Telegraph (UK)
“An incisive, cracklingly funny book.” —Time (Canada)
“Heat, tightly written, evocative and compelling, is a feast in its own right.” —Edmonton Journal
“A difficult book to put down — if Heat was a movie, you’d be viewing it from behind your fingers. The book is an intoxicating drug we can’t get enough of in paragraph after breathless paragraph of fast-paced and candid prose that leaves both the writer and the reader humbled. . . . And when one reluctantly turns the last page on Heat, it is with a sadness and a hungering for more.” — Toronto Sun