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Bill Buford - "HEAT"

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Has anyone read it yet... what's it like?

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  1. It's good - although I enjoyed "The Reach of a Chef" a smidge better - or maybe it was just that I read "Heat" too soon after I read "Reach." This seems to be a growing genre, where some guy works in a few kitchens in order to be able to write about the experience, and winds up realizing that somewhere along the way he has become a chef. "Heat" was an excellent read, and I recommend it (and also "Reach.")

    1. I saw Bill Buford speak alongside Mario Batali and Anthony Bourdain last week at an event at the New York public library and was so underwhelmed by Buford that I decided not to buy his book. His passion for the kitchen and cooking seemed fake and almost formulaic in order to push his new book. Bourdain shined in moderating the event and keeping it entertaining but Buford kept rambling on and on injected little life into a seemingly amazing experience with not only Batali but his travels to Europe to sit in on the kitchens of some of their masters. I hope he's a better writer that what he portrayed that night, because he seemed like a dud. Bourdain on the other hand was funny and earnest (at one point he likened Rachel Ray to satan which got a roar from the crowd) As for Batali, he sat amused by the whole thing in an aww-shucks sort of way. Maybe I’ll give Heat a shot, but judging from his on-stage persona it’d be hard to feel like I’m not being duped by a slick writer.

      1 Reply
      1. re: chowcito

        Some people just aren't good at public speaking, or don't have a good on-stage presence - I thought "Heat" was genuine, and I felt Buford had a real feel for what he was doing (and eating) along the way. Anyway, the book was full of accounts of other people and how they became chefs - like Mario Batali and some of the people he learned from, and some of the people who learned from him. It was a good, readable peek into a strange and different world that people are increasingly fascinated by.

      2. i just finished the book. i found it went fast and was interesting, especially the time he spends in italy, but the writing itself did not impress me. i thought buford came off kind of dorky and slightly irritating. not a must-read but you can get into it, and parts of it are great.

        2 Replies
        1. re: ndl

          I'm about half way into it, and I'm having fun reading it. I like looking into a busy restaurant kitchen, and tagging along when he's with other chefs, like Marco Pierre White. I'm not particularly critical of writing, if the topic interests me. I first read him in the New Yorker. I don't often buy books for myself anymore, but I'd buy this one, as a present.

          1. re: ndl

            I completely disagree. Buford is a little dorky (he's a New Yorker guy, after all) but his writing is what makes the book excellent. I found myself reading parts aloud to my boyfriend because they were so well-written. He's not flashy, just solid, funny and compelling. I highly recommend the book.

          2. I read it over two days on vacation. It's a quick, light read. I skipped most of the end about the apprenticeship with the butcher, which put me to sleep.

            1. Such a well written book. Entertaining and I recommend it... but agree with Xavier about the butcher apprenticeship... kinda yawn inducing....