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Extended Audio Sample Heat: An Amateurs Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany Audiobook, by Bill Buford Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (12,518 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Bill Buford Narrator: Bill Buford Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: May 2006 ISBN: 9780739315460
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From one of our most interesting literary figures—former editor of Granta, former fiction editor at the New Yorker, acclaimed author of Among the Thugs—a sharp, funny, exuberant, close-up account of his headlong plunge into the life of a professional cook.

Expanding on his James Beard Award-winning New Yorker article, Bill Buford gives us a richly evocative chronicle of his experience as “slave” to Mario Batali in the kitchen of Batali’s three-star New York restaurant, Babbo.

In a fast-paced, candid narrative, Buford describes three frenetic years of trials and errors, disappointments and triumphs, as he worked his way up the Babbo ladder from “kitchen bitch” to line cook…his relationship with the larger-than-life Batali, whose story he learns as their friendship grows through (and sometimes despite) kitchen encounters and after-work all-nighters…and his immersion in the arts of butchery in Northern Italy, of preparing game in London, and making handmade pasta at an Italian hillside trattoria.

Heat is a marvelous hybrid: a memoir of Buford’s kitchen adventure, the story of Batali’s amazing rise to culinary (and extra-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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • A GLOBE & MAIL BEST BOOK OF 2006
    A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF 2006
  • Sharing Buford’s table talk is a pleasure not to be passed up. Michael Redhill, The Globe and 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, terror and pain are all part of the story too. The Telegraph
  • “it is clear that Buford can hold his own with anyone in the foodie pedantry stakes…. Heat is a subtle, expletive-heavy, genuine account of a writer’s engagement with food…. [an] ultimately nourishing book. Times Literary Supplement
  • A messy, brilliant book, a high-brow kitchen soap opera, which never skates over the characters’ flaws but is suffused with an infectious love of food and the people who devote their lives to it. The Telegraph (UK)
  • An incisive, cracklingly funny book. Time (Canada)
  • Heat, tightly written, evocative and compelling, is a feast in its own right. Edmonton Journal
  • “A difficult book to put down — if Heat was a movie, you’d be viewing it from behind your fingers. The book is an intoxicating drug we can’t get enough of in paragraph after breathless paragraph of fast-paced and candid prose that leaves both the writer and the reader humbled. . . . And when one reluctantly turns the last page on Heat, it is with a sadness and a hungering for more. Toronto Sun
  • A dazzling and funny account of two magnificently mad years. The Guardian
  • [Buford] excels at vibrantly colourful descriptive writing. . . . What shines through is the story of Bill Buford falling in love with food, and his passionate journey of learning. Vancouver Sun
  • One of the 2006 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Nonfiction

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Caleb Zigas | 2/10/2014

    " I legitimately believe that this is one of the best books I've ever read about actually being in a kitchen. He understands the dynamics of a working kitchen like no one else I've read, and Batali is simply captivating. Better than working on a line, guaranteed. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Steph Green | 2/9/2014

    " Love Buford's writing (also loved Among the Thugs); he is self-deprecating and brings each character, even minor ones, vividly alive. I learned a lot about Italian cuisine and butchery (who knew?) from this book and have a new appreciation for the restaurant business, even after having worked in several restaurants myself. Excellent book! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kerry Frabizio | 2/8/2014

    " This was fun, but I'll never watch Mario Batali on Iron Chef in the same way again! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Oliver | 2/6/2014

    " Buford is a good writer, and I enjoyed this book a lot. His descriptions of the process of learning to be a Babbo chef were hilarious. I really liked the digressions into medieval cookbooks and the Italian view on food. A fast and fun book. Makes m want to go to Italy. Or maybe just eataly. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Steve | 2/1/2014

    " Brilliant. Written with authenticity. Along the author's journey through his life changing experience, he becomes more human; as he ends his book saying. Food is meant to be made slowly, by hand, with low efficiency. Not everything is capable of being, or should be, scaled up to a mass production. Unfortunately, I think the author is right when he says that at some point we will no longer see meals made this way. By humans. At worst, we will no longer know where things come from and what they really are; if that hasn't already taken its way. There is "bad" in efficiency and if the "bad" cannot be constraint then the level of efficiency should. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Smcq | 1/27/2014

    " One of my favorite foodie reads. Love this guy. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Julie Anne | 1/22/2014

    " Compare part 6 with chapter 6 of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sky | 1/19/2014

    " One of the best food/cooking/kitchen memoirs I've read, told with a great deal of humility and humanity. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Vicky | 1/14/2014

    " I totally loved this book. When I finished it, I couldn't wait to get in the kitchen, butcher meat and make pasta! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Niki Ganong | 1/13/2014

    " What happens when an ordinary person steps behind the line. But before he fires a single order, he learns all of the grunt work. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Hank Stuever | 1/7/2014

    " Brilliantly observed, wonderfully written, etc. My favorite book about food, and food is not one of my favorite subjects to read about. This is just simply a shining example of amazing non-fiction; an excellent synthesis of cultural observation, memoir, journalistic profile. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ethicurean Reads | 1/1/2014

    " The subtitle says it all. A New Yorker contributor, Buford is a very entertaining writer. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sheboygan Kid | 12/30/2013

    " Fun book about what happens in the restaurant kitchen, and about the deep running love Italian's have for food and cooking. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jana | 12/25/2013

    " So-so, behind the scenes in famous kitchens, mostly Mario Battalli (what a jerk). "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Deborah Ward | 12/9/2013

    " loved it ... made me so hungry and provided additional insight into the what really does go on in the kitchen. Well written, though perhaps a bit sluggish at times. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Junita | 12/1/2013

    " Bill Buford is a very engaging, funny, writer, but I just got bogged down by too much Batali. Enough with the Batali already! I couldn't finish this book. Would have been better as a long New Yorker essay, I think. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Christie Anna | 11/9/2013

    " Very intesting first hand account from a writer turned apprentice to a top chef. If you like to cook, you'll love this as I did. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tracey | 10/6/2013

    " One of my all-time favorite books! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Wardo | 10/3/2013

    " A wonderful book for foodies, with lots of detail about what it takes to work in a world class kitchen and the eccentric personalities who excel there. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Keri | 5/18/2013

    " I read this book during a trip to Spain (would have been even better if read during our trip to Italy). I can't say enough great things about this book...of course you must have a deep appreciation for food and the details of it's prepartion from beginning to end. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cryselle | 4/26/2013

    " Must be fun to have the sort of life that will accommodate this sort of singleminded experiment in learning to be a chef and REALLY amazing that Mario Batali would help the project along. But it makes my job sound a lot better. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Debbie | 1/22/2013

    " This is really 3 1/2 stars. When he was in the kitchen at Babbo or in Italy, the book was absolutely 4 stars. But, when he became his editor of the New Yorker persona, it was definitely 3 stars. Overall, I enjoyed the book. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 April | 10/2/2012

    " This book started off great & kinda faded for me. I started to lose interest. I contemplated not finishing it, but I powered through. If anything, it makes me want to go to Italy even more than I already did! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 bette | 5/4/2012

    " Quite interesting about the kitchen work of top chefs. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Florence | 12/18/2011

    " Being a vegetarian, I didn't like the stuff about the Italian butcher but the rest was great. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Carol panaro-smith | 11/24/2011

    " loved this book-a real page turner if you're a foodie. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Melanie | 11/14/2011

    " hubby liked it more than i did -- he liked the meat stuff, i wanted more of the restaurant/kitchen politics. i finished the book rather bored. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shelley | 10/22/2011

    " Remind me never to get a job in a kitchen. No surprise as to the stresses involved. I loved the part of the book when he travelled to Italy to learn how to make pasta, and visited the famous butcher in Tuscany. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Alisa | 6/28/2011

    " I'm on the chapter about ragu. Loving it so far. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Anne | 6/14/2011

    " loved this book-- recommend it to all my friends who like to cook, travel, appreciate Italy :) "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Judy | 6/12/2011

    " Good book, though it slows down as you go. I still read without reading other books in the interim. I'd highly recommend to anyone who likes food writing. It gave me an incredible desire to eat good pasta. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cryselle | 5/7/2011

    " Must be fun to have the sort of life that will accommodate this sort of singleminded experiment in learning to be a chef and REALLY amazing that Mario Batali would help the project along. But it makes my job sound a lot better. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Carol | 4/26/2011

    " If you are a cook, you'll really appreciate the life of a chef. I love the way it was written and totally get Mario Batali's personality now... "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Deb | 4/18/2011

    " This might be the most boring book I have ever read. I wish I could remember why I thought it was a good idea to buy it. What a waste of perfectly good U.S. dollars. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tuck | 4/18/2011

    " buford is humbled by the wetback pasta maker in battli's nyc restaurante, then takes himself to italy and cooks with old folks, learns about Chianti cattle and farming, wine, butchering, and how to cook your ass off. very entertaining and somewhat informative, though a bit big city fey. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Darlene | 4/13/2011

    " Another great book about the lives of chefs, from someone who wasn't trained that way. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tim | 4/4/2011

    " Great description on how to make delicious 4 hour polenta. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kristin | 3/31/2011

    " I learned three things from this book. 1) never order pasta from a restaurant after 8:00pm. 2) never try to get a table at a restaurant at the end of the night. 3) never eat salami again. Very entertaining read, if you like cooking and Italian food. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Liz | 3/10/2011

    " Journalist works his way up to a line cook in the mad whirl of Mario Batalia's world - also goes off to Italy to learn the fine art of pasta and butchery. A must for foodies "

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About the Author
Author Bill BufordBill Buford is a staff writer for The New Yorker, where he was the fiction editor for eight years. He was the founding editor of Granta magazine and was also the publisher of Granta Books. His previous book, Among the Thugs, is a nonfiction account of crowd violence and British soccer hooliganism. He lives in New York City with his wife, Jessica Green, and their two sons.