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
Bill Buford, an enthusiastic, if rather chaotic, home cook, was asked by the New Yorker to write a profile of Mario Batali, a Falstaffian figure of voracious appetites who runs one of New York's most successful three-star restaurants. Buford accepted the commission, on the condition Batali allow him to work in his kitchen, as his slave.
He worked his way up to 'line cook' and then left New York to learn from the very teachers who had taught his teacher: preparing game with Marco Pierre White, making pasta in a hillside trattoria, finally becoming apprentice to a Dante-spouting butcher in Chianti.
Heat is a marvellous hybrid: a memoir of Buford's kitchen adventures, 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”
“I lingered over every sentence like a heavily truffled risotto”
“I have never read a funnier or more authentic account of the making of a serious cook. Give Mr Buford three stars”
“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”
“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