During the nine years of bacchanal I like to refer to as college, I paid the rent bartending and waiting tables. As anyone who has worked in restaurants will attest, life behind the scenes is passionate, frenetic, profane, and, ultimately, addictive. Everything I know about dealing with people I learned in the restaurant business. Until fairly recently, however, the general public was innocent to its finer dynamics - more specifically, what went on behind the kitchen door. And before The Restaurant made its way to our TVs, there was Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain's bestselling rant about his three decades working in professional kitchens. The executive chef at New York's famed brasserie Les Halles, his book was both exposé of and homage to a business he clearly loves. "There will be horror stories," he prefaced. "Heavy drinking, drugs, unappetizing industry-wide practices."
Bourdain, who had enjoyed minor success as a fiction writer, was suddenly a culinary hero. Kitchen Confidential was translated into 23 languages. Film rights have been optioned.
As a follow-up, Bourdain undertook a journey around the world in search of the perfect meal. The resulting book, A Cook's Tour, and its wildly popular Food Network companion series (airing Fridays at 9:30 p.m., Saturdays at 1:30 a.m. ET/PT), have seen Bourdain devour everything from deadly puffer fish to the beating heart of a live cobra. The paperback edition of his latest fiction effort, The Bobby Gold Stories, comes out in June.