Book Review – Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

I saw a speech by Tai Lopez who talked about how he finishes one book per day. While I’m not on that level—yet—I have since made a priority to finish one book per week. Right now I’m on Atlas Shrugged which just by time constraints and since it’s such a long book will take more than a week, but I’ve finished a number of very interesting books since that time.

The first that I will talk about is Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain. Why I wanted to mention this book on my website is that while I originally read it because I thought it would be a fun story, since I always liked his TV shows and I’m also big into good food, a lot of the vignettes in his book reminded me a lot of working in financial services.

When you go to a nice restaurant, you place your order, and then after a short period of time, you get really good food. It all seems so simple, but it’s only because of a ton of prep work that goes into the background—especially during a busy dinner rush—that makes it all seem so seamless and easy. A restaurateur needs to deal with a saturated market, managing megalomaniac line cooks thinking they are the next Gordon Ramsay when they really just need to shut up and do their job, managing floor staff, dealing with purveyors who may or may not have a high degree of ethics and professionalism, idiotic consultants, defusing chaotic situations like equipment failures or running out of a critical ingredient—and then getting all the food out the door on time.

In a way, this reminded me a lot of working in finance, with intense time pressure, lots of moving parts, and chaotic situations being normal operating conditions. People who can’t take the stress often quickly move on, but those who can deal with it often become very successful.

Anthony Bourdain, beyond just having a successful TV show on both the Travel Channel and now on CNN, also is/was the executive chef at the successful New York restaurant Les Halles. Considering as he cites in his book that restaurants have a staggering 60% failure rate, it’s worth learning from someone like him who made it to the top of his industry, regardless of whatever field you work in.

The book may also healthily dissuade you from any romantic illusions of blindly investing in a restaurant (or bar for that matter) without doing your due diligence beforehand. Bourdain writes that often people who made a lot of money doing something else (he says dentists are a common demographic for whatever reason) buy a restaurant as a fun, pet project, and in a few months get completely in over their head when they realize the time and money needed to keep a restaurant merely functional, much less successful.

If nothing else, his writing style is just fun to read.

Check it out.