I have often exclaimed that the job worst suited to me would be as a tow truck operator on the BQE. After reading Bill Buford's Heat, I stick by that, but working as a professional chef is a fairly frightening prospect as well. It's an alpha male world of late nights, intense pressure, physical pain, and rarely any recognition. And this book captures it well.
In an act of obsession, Buford went to work in Mario Batali's famous Babbo restaurant, starting as a kitchen slave and gradually, after countless burns, cuts, bleeding, and pain was able to help in other areas of the kitchen.
The stories from that kitchen, the frustrations, the wild characters and the food is peppered with travel stories as the author's Italian food obsession takes him all over the homeland where more eccentrics await. He also delves deep to Batali's past and follows the path that led the ginger bearded wild man to his current state of success.
Unfortunately these forays into his self discovery as roaming student were less intriguing than the segments that took place at Babbo. Still, there is plenty to recommend to anyone interested in food, or anyone obsessive about anything really.