By Bill Buford
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"Heat" is the story of an amateur cook surviving - or, perhaps more accurately, trying to survive - in a professional kitchen. Until recently, Bill Buford was an enthusiastic, if rather chaotic, home cook. His meals were characterized by two incompat Continue
"Heat" is the story of an amateur cook surviving - or, perhaps more accurately, trying to survive - in a professional kitchen. Until recently, Bill Buford was an enthusiastic, if rather chaotic, home cook. His meals were characterized by two incompatible qualities: their ambition and his inexperience at preparing them. Nevertheless, his lifelong regret was that he'd never worked in a professional kitchen. Then, three years ago, an opportunity presented itself. Buford was asked by the New Yorker to write a profile of Mario Batali, a Falstaffian figure of voracious appetites who ran one of New York's most successful three-star restaurants. Batali had learned his craft by years of training - first, working in London with the young Marco Pierre White; then in California during the Food Revolution; and finally in Italy, being taught how to make pasta by hand in a hillside trattoria. Buford accepted the commission, if Batali would let him work in his kitchen, as his slave.
He worked his way up to being a 'line cook' and then left New York to apprentice himself under the very teachers who had taught his teacher: preparing game with Marco Pierre White, making pasta in a hillside trattoria, and finally, in a town in Northern Italy, becoming an Italian butcher. "Heat" is a marvellous hybrid: a memoir of Buford's kitchen adventure, the story of Batali's amazing rise to 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.