I imagine most cooking enthusiasts have at times imagined working in a restaurant or even owning one.
I've had several restaurant concepts, though have always realized I would be ill-suited to actually work in a restaurant.
Nothing has ever brought the reality of the restaurant cooking experience to life for me as well as the book Heat by Bill Buford.
When it came out, this book gained notoriety as an expose about Mario Batali. But it's really not that at all. Yes, Batali plays a major role in it, but really this is the story of one man's search to know food in a way it can only be known by hands on experience in the kitchen with great cooks, or in one case, a butcher.
Buford is a superb writer, and this book was by turns visceral, funny and heartwarming. As much as it made even clearer that restaurant cooking is very hard work, it made me wish even more that I was suited to it.