Thursday, November 17, 2011

HEAT featuring Mario Batali

Mario Batali made news recently, siding with the Occupy Wall Street movement, and angering the rich--who are about the only ones who can afford to eat at some of his restaurants.  In his memoir HEAT, New Yorker staff writer Bill Buford detailed his experience working in the kitchen of Babbo, a famous New York restaurant run by Batali.  Batali is not quite as bullying as Gordon Ramsay on the TV show "Hell's Kitchen" and "Kitchen Nightmares," but one wonders what he thinks of the subtitle:  "An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany."  The memoir is different than "Kitchen Confidential" too.  And Buford is not without humor as well.  He's a sharp observer--not just of slicing and dicing.  He actually tells a story, instead of just being offered a job as prize while we watch other fumbling wanna-be chefs get insulted and yelled at for being amateurs.  My advice?  Skip the TV, and get this audiobook, which Buford narrates himself with an enthusiastic mastery of timing.
Another older memoir suitable for the present moment was penned by Willie Nelson as his own short inspirational book titled THE TAO OF WILLIE, and subtitled "A Guide to the Happiness in Your Heart."  Texas Monthly writer and friend Turk Pipkin helped him write it, and both authors read it with the help of veteran narrator Tom Stechschulte.  Willie's 250 albums have sold 50 million copies, and this was his third semi-biographical book, just sharing lessons learned, plus jokes and wisdom.  So if you don't know Willie's story, or need some friendly advice on life from a man who's been around the block a few times, this is a refreshing bit of common sense.  Stuff that often gets left behind in an age of gangster rap and insane grifter politics.

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