Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook

Medium Raw


In the ten years since his classic “Kitchen Confidential” first alerted us to the idiosyncrasies and lurking perils of eating out, from Monday fish to the breadbasket conspiracy, much has changed for the subculture of chefs and cooks, for the restaurant business and for Anthony Bourdain.

“Medium Raw” explores these changes, moving back and forth from the author's bad old days to the present. Tracking his own strange and unexpected voyage from journeyman cook to globe-traveling professional eater and drinker, and even to fatherhood, Bourdain takes no prisoners as he dissects what he's seen, pausing along the way for a series of confessions, rants, investigations, and interrogations of some of the most controversial figures in food.

Beginning with a secret and highly illegal after-hours gathering of powerful chefs that he compares to a mafia summit, Bourdain pulls back the curtain—but never pulls his punches—on the modern gastronomical revolution, as only he can. Cutting right to the bone, Bourdain sets his sights on some of the biggest names in the foodie world, including David Chang, the young superstar chef who has radicalized the fine-dining landscape; the revered Alice Waters, whom he treats with unapologetic frankness; the “Top Chef” winners and losers; and many more.

And always he returns to the question "Why cook?" Or the more difficult "Why cook well?" “Medium Raw” is the deliciously funny and shockingly delectable journey to those answers, sure to delight philistines and gourmands alike.  (Summary and cover courtesy of


I found “Medium Raw” surprising and refreshing coming from Anthony Bourdain.  The book is set up as a series of essays on a variety of food cultural items.  If you’re not particularly into the food scene, much of it will likely go straight over your head – I know it did for me.  That did not, however, detract from my enjoyment of the book.

Bourdain muses on the things that brought him to cooking, his life choices and just how he ended up where he is today.  It was unexpected for me given his commentary provided in his other books.  That being said, I felt like this was the more realistic snapshot in his life and why has chosen some of the choices he has.  This was a fun read to listen to (narrated by Bourdain himself) and certainly passed the time enjoyably during my lunchtime walks.

Warning: Contains repeated profanity.

Rating: 4 stars!

Who should read it? Fans of food porn and are not easily offended.