An Amateur’s Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-maker and Apprentice to a Butcher in Tuscany
'Heat is by far the funniest, most passionately felt and intensely flavoured piece of writing about food, its possibilities and its culture, you are likely to read' - Tim Adams, Observer
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.
“Buford is an engaging and accomplished writer with a sharp eye for the telling detail, and his prose fairly crackles on the page...There's enough luscious description to keep avid foodies drooling and enough beady-eyed observation to deter all but the keenest wannabe chefs”
George Rosie, Sunday Herald
“With an endlessly inquisitive mind writes with great humour ... I suspect it might become a kitchen classic. It deserves to”
Ray Connelly, Daily Mail
“Heat is a book about obsession, written by a man in the grip of one. It is fuelled by food, but food is not its only subject - love, sex, comradeship and terror and pain are all part of the story too”
Carolyn Hart, Sunday Telegraph
“Now and again a book comes along that deserves the massive hype that goes with it...this book is an incredible celebration of life, humour, passion and devotion to a cause”
“There are many fine books on food, but Buford's insane culinary enthusiasm has resulted in a work that is by some distance the best about life among the professionals”
Christopher Hirst, Independent
“A dazzling and fun account of two magnificently mad years”
Sue Birtwistle, Guardian
“It's a messy, brilliant book, a high brow kitchen soap opera...”
Tom de Castella, Daily Telegraph
“Obsessive, compulsive, sometimes funny, sometimes scholarly and always carefully detailed... he presents the foul-mouthed energy of the kitchen, all fear and weirdness, in the flat, careful detail of a good New Yorker piece - but brilliantly timed and structured as you'd expect from an editor like Buford, to give life to all that fact”
“This book will make you hungry - hungry for a follow-up, hungry for good writing in general and, of course, hungry for lunch”