Heat, Bill Buford, 2006, Alfred A. Knopf. Random House, 315 pages.
Heat (An Amateur’s Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-maker, and Apprentice to A Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany) spins out as Buford relates his exploration of the business of professional cooking from an amateur-home cook’s viewpoint.The author begins the adventure by first apprenticing himself at New York’s Babbo under Chef Mario Batali. There he captures the essence and drama of the pleasures of preparing a perfect meal that others will enjoy while trying to keep up with the exuberant antics of Chef Mario Batali. Most people while dining out do not know or want to know of the frenetic “back of the house” kitchen dance of people, food, and heat that changes raw food into satisfying food for the body.
From Babbo to a hillside restaurant in Chianti to learn pasta making, to an egocentric famous butcher who prepares meat for the soul, to England’s notorious Chef Marco Pierre White for instruction in wild game preparation, the reader is lead on the food journey by the well written author’s reflections on the history of food as the shaper of world cultures and the what and why of the foods we eat today. The exuberant presentation keeps the reader wondering what will be next and laughing over the hilarious antics of the “larger that life” Food Artists called Chefs.