Bill Buford, an enthusiastic, if rather chaotic, home cook, was asked by the New Yorker to write a profile of Mario Batali, a Falstaffian figure of voracious appetites who runs one of New York's most successful three-star restaurants. Buford accepted the commission, on the condition Batali allow him to work in his kitchen, as his slave. He worked his way up to 'line cook' and then left New York to learn from the very teachers who had taught his teacher: preparing game with Marco Pierre White, making pasta in a hillside trattoria, finally becoming apprentice to a Dante-spouting butcher in Chianti. Heat is a marvellous hybrid: a memoir of Buford's kitchen adventures, the story of Batali's amazing rise to culinary fame, a dazzling behind-the-scenes look at a famous restaurant, and an illuminating exploration of why food matters. It is a book to delight in, and to savour.
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