Bill Buford: Cookbooks are for wimps

“The idea of pugnacious literary supremo Bill Buford taking orders from anyone is laughable. So why did he leave ‘The New Yorker’ to become a lowly ‘kitchen slave’ for one of New York’s best restaurants? Danuta Kean asks him what he learnt among the pans.”

From The Independent:

BufordIt all started at a dinner party in Buford’s Manhattan apartment. Among the guests was Mario Batali, TV chef and proprietor of acclaimed New York eatery Babbo. He turned out to be the dinner guest from hell. Within moments of his arrival chez Buford, the writer knew inviting him was a mistake. Batali, one of the new breed of alpha-male cooks whose main rule is excess, took over, treating his host to his first lesson in muscular cookery and other guests to a night of macho drinking.

Buford has alpha-male tendencies of his own (at Granta the testosterone levels of many contributors were as high as his: Redmond O’Hanlon and Raymond Carver were regulars). But he was hooked and accepted the chef’s challenge to work in his kitchen as a slave for whom no task was too debased. In exchange he would learn real cooking.

More here.