Bill Buford became fascinated by Mario Batalli and talked him into letting Buford work in his restaurant kitchen as an unpaid intern. Along the way we get insights into how a restaurant kitchen works, although those have been given in greater detail and with greater flair in such books as Kitchen Confidential and The Soul of a Chef. For me the fascinating part of this book came when Buford became hooked on food from his own point of view, doing endless research into when Italian cooks first began adding an egg to pasta dough and going to Italy to learn from a butcher who follows the old ways. In some areas he winds up surpassing Batalli's own knowledge of Italian cuisine. Along the way we see Batalli's career from owning a restaurant to becoming a celebrity chef.
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