Medium-well: Anthony Bourdain’s new book — Medium Raw — shows the mature side of food writing’s bad boy

Anthony Bourdain has grown up.

When he published Kitchen Confidential a decade ago it was a revelatory book, a type of food memoir and explication of the life of a chef that had never been explored in such gritty and loving detail. The tale of his rise and fall and rise as a human being and as a chef was sheathed in occasionally sensational, often overblown language that still managed to ring damn true. For the average foodie, it peeled away their white tablecloth restaurant experiences to show how food is done, and by who. For kitchen staff — from fry monkey to expediting chef/owner — it was the first time that their ilk was given proper due, albeit in a way that might shock or concern the average diner.

But a lot can happen in a decade.

Bourdain’s latest book — Medium Raw — reflects the extent to which the man has changed in the intervening decade, simultaneously distancing himself from his past and acting as a follow-up to the book that propelled him into food stardom. While Kitchen Confidential was a plunge into the dark and dank interiors of his own struggles and a celebration of equally insular restaurant kitchen workers (which he famously compared to a paranoid submarine crew), Medium Raw expands his take into the food world at large. As he admits constantly throughout the book, he’s no longer a chef. He’s a food celebrity.

As if to pound home the change, Bourdain relates a story about going out with a random assortment of cooks and chefs while on a book tour, and having one particularly drunk — and astute — dude excoriate him for no longer being in touch. Instead of striking a nerve, it elicits a shrug. And a round of shots to heal the embarassing rift.