> Skip to content

'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.


It's a brilliant book, a high-brow kitchen soap opera

Daily Telegraph

I lingered over every sentence like a heavily truffled risotto

Anthony Bourdain

I have never read a funnier or more authentic account of the making of a serious cook. Give Mr Buford three stars

Peter Mayle

A dazzling and fun account of two magnificently mad years


With an endlessly inquisitive mind writes with great humour ... I suspect it might become a kitchen classic. It deserves to

Ray Connelly, Daily Mail

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


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

Sunday Express

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

This book will make you hungry - hungry for a follow-up, hungry for good writing in general and, of course, hungry for lunch


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

Read More

Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    September 3, 2007


    336 pages

    RRP $29.99

    Online retailers

    • Fishpond
    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at www.booksellers.co.nz/directory

  • Trade Paperback


    October 2, 2006

    Jonathan Cape

    336 pages

    RRP $39.99

    Online retailers

    • Fishpond
    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at www.booksellers.co.nz/directory

  • EBook


    July 31, 2013

    Vintage Digital

    336 pages

    Online retailers

    • iBooks NZ
    • Amazon Kindle
    • Google Play
    • Kobo
    • Booktopia NZ

    Find your local bookstore at www.booksellers.co.nz/directory

Also by Bill Buford

Among The Thugs


The Golden House
Lean In
Mary Berry's Absolute Favourites
Plenty More
Rising Strong
A Life Underwater
The Man Who Climbs Trees
At My Table
How to Murder Your Life
The Light Between Us
Carry Me Home
For the Love of Horses
Backyard Farming
The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
On Helwig Street
Now You See Her