I loved Kitchen Confidential, partly because I was doing a stint working at a small restaurant in Salem, Massachusetts. I was having a blast with a dysfunctional family of cooks, servers, and bartenders. Kitchen Confidential spoke to me, I laughed, I cried.... Medium Raw is part II of Bourdain's on going memoir. No longer in the kitchen, this tells the story of the decade that has past since he published the unexpected run away feat. Medium Raw is a peek into the life of a professional foodie, a foul mouthed foodie who calls 'em as he sees 'em.
Some of Bourdain's best stuff is reserved for the Food Network, particularly that fraud Sandra Lee. He refers to her once as the "hell spawn of Betty Crocker and Charles Manson." The fact that. The Food Network now owns the Travel Channel, puts his ranting into a new perspective, of which he is keenly aware. It does not, though, stop him from claiming that FN is really about using their celebrity chefs to hock cheap crap to the lemmings who watch the network. He does offer some unique insight into the idea that these chefs have sold out. He comes to realize that guys like Emeril, who can cook their asses off, are now responsible for hundreds of employees who need him to maintain the ever expanding food empire for the sake of their livelihoods.
Bourdain does have good things to say about Bravo's Top Chef. He claims that Head Judge Tom Colochio ensures that the best food on any given night wins. There is an integrity that is missing elsewhere.
Possibly the best chapter in Medium Raw is that on Heroes and Villains. He names names, and explains why certain chefs make the world of food better, and why some are deserving of nothing but scorn, even if they can cook. Though we might disagree on the likes of Jamie Oliver (he calls him a hero, I call him a pretentious villain), for the most part Bourdain's list is solid. His reasons for calling the James Beard House a villain are insightful in the extreme.
I will say I was bored by the drivel about his daughter, but not enough to say avoid the book. Just speed read through the chapter. Though his was against McDonald's is amusing, the chapter lacks punch and is overly cloying in it's sentimentality.
All in all, if you are a foodie or just a fan of the Lewis Black style rant, Medium Raw is the book for you.
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