Multiplication Center

Anthony Bourdain’s Medium Raw

June 21, 2010

(fyi: simultaneously released over at as well)

Wait a second! What in the world is this review doing in Leadership Network Books blog for goodness sake? Who in the world is minding the store over there? Have they gone completely mad?

Who would feature the famously foul-mouthed, foul-tempered author/tv personality/former chef in a blog about leadership?

OK, let me put it out there.

I occasionally watch Bourdain’s TV show on the Travel Channel. I did read Kitchen Confidential. I have looked at a few of this other books. And yes, he is ill tempered, uses language you will never hear, or should hear in church, and his subject of both tv, magazine and books are really a little afield of our normal church leadership subjects.

But I think the man is a brilliant reporter. He has a point of view and there is no mistaking it. You know where he stands. No guessing. Straight at you. I like that.

He values street food and fine food. I like that.

The latest book is Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook is on par with Kitchen Confidential.


Hey, the guy is admittedly a former drug addict and willingly shares all his dysfunctions. He is painfully open about his past. I can appreciate the honesty. If you want to read something by a good, clean, Christian author this summer, this ain’t it.

But I found some incredible value in the book.

First, his writing style is appropriate for the time. So if you just like to read good writing, I say go for it.

Go read the Chapter called “So You Want to Be a Chef” and translate chef to pastor and cocaine and heroin addiction to codependency and approval addiction. Change seminary for culinary school and you will get the drift. Tony’s advice: Don’t go to culinary school before you start cooking somewhere to see if it really fits you. Know how hot it is in the kitchen before going in debt to the ivory tower. I know a lot of young seminary grads that should have taken this advice.

Go read “The Fear” chapter to get a sense of how restaurant operations have coped with the current recession both in positive and negative ways. Ok, yep, churches are different and operate differently. But seeing how these small businesses have morphed in the current age is instructive. Some got creative and survived, some didn’t. Some just quit.

I liked the chapter on David Chang, the hypochondriac creative genius who knows he has hit it lucky and is just not that smart. But he is very open, transparent and is loved because of it.

And finally, I think the best piece of reporting I have read in years is in the Chapter 18 “My Aim is True.” I know you may not care who butcher’s the fish at your seafood establishment, but the description of Justo Thomas and his regular day, is an incredible behind the scenes look at the way a piece of fish turns up on your plate for dinner.

Yes, you will cringe at the language and views of Tony. You will get bored at some of his personal digs at other chefs and tv folks at times if you haven’t watched the show, but it was a great read and for food lovers, a must.

Dave Travis

Managing Director

Leadership Network

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