Reviews for Heat : An Amateur's Adventures As Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-quoting Butcher in Tuscany

Kirkus Reviews 2006 April #2
New Yorker staff writer and obsessed foodie Buford (Among the Thugs, 1992) infiltrates a top chef's kitchen to plumb Italian food as haute cuisine.The author worked as a lowly, often humiliated cooking intern at New York's celebrated Babbo restaurant-the "slave," as he puts it, of chef and partner Mario Batali. Buford sometimes has trouble not stooping to grovel when he brings the American-born, Italian-trained Batali onto the scene, but he nonetheless manages a full portrait of the celebrity chef as occasional paranoid, willful boor and megalomaniacal disciplinarian. The chef frequently assumed a highly visible seat at Babbo's bar, doing no cooking but sipping wine and making sure to be seen while the underlings he had molded labored in the kitchen to fulfill the promise of his innovative menus. Celebrated for personal excesses with food, drink and more, Batali serves as Buford's icon of culinary contradiction, railing against "faggoty French cooking," then, in a pensive lapse, affirming that only women are ultimately capable of "cooking with love." There was plenty for the author to learn as he bungled knife-sharpening, carrot-dicing and other basics, barely tolerated by professional colleagues who were often at each others' throats, all trying to master the art and get their own joints. Buford's experiences at Babbo led him to attempt the delicate art of pasta-making in Italy. Regrettably, his dogged inquiry into the historical transition that led to using eggs instead of water in the dough is a needless drag. After that, he apprenticed himself to a Tuscan butcher, beginning his studies with the pig but moving on to the cow in "graduate butcher school," where he learned the mantra, "It's not the breed. It's the breeding." As he pursues his culinary obsessions, Buford provides an abundance of esoterica on fine Italian cooking, as well as a lot of inside dope on some not-so-savory aspects of selling top-dollar restaurants to the public.Brightly rendered and sophisticated, as befits a New Yorker writer, but very uneven.First printing of 100,000 Copyright Kirkus 2006 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2006 October #3

As readers go, Andino seems to have it all, as heard in his sharp performance of Lupica's (Traveling Team ) latest baseball tale. The story centers on two Cuban brothers living in New York and trying to avoid being sent to foster care, or even back to Cuba, after their father dies. Michael Arroyo is the star of his Bronx Little League team, but he is benched when he is accused of being older than 12. With no father to help and his birth certificate lost in Cuba, Michael is at a loss for what to do. It doesn't help that both boys have inadvertently drawn the attention of the police (Michael for helping apprehend a crook, and his older brother Carlos for working for him). Andino has his work cut out for him: Dominican, Cuban, old, young, male, femaleâ€"he is totally convincing as every character. Particularly fun is the thespian uncle Timo of Michael's friend Manny; the boys talk Timo into playing "Papi" when they are visited by the officials. His transformation from surfer-dude to middle-aged Cuban refugee is as enjoyable as it is impressive. Ages 10-up. (July)

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2006 July #2

Buford's voice echoes the rhythms of his own writing style. Writing about his break from working as a New Yorker editor and learning firsthand about the world of food, Buford guns his reading into hyperspeed when he is jazzed about a particularly tangy anecdote, and plays with his vocal tone and pitch when mimicking others' voices. At its base, Buford's voice is tinged with a jovial lilt, as if he is amused by his life as a "kitchen slave" and by the outsize personalities of the people he meets along the way. Less authoritative than blissfully confused, Buford speaks the way he writes, as a well-informed but never entirely knowledgeable outsider to the world of food love. Listening to his imitation of star chef Mario Batali's kinetic squeal, Buford ably conveys his abiding love for the teachers and companions of his brief, eventful life as a cook. Simultaneous release with the Knopf hardcover. (Reviews, Apr. 3). (May)

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School Library Journal Review 2006 August

Gr 5-8 Growing up in the Bronx and playing Little League baseball in the shadow of Yankee Stadium, it's no surprise that 12-year-old Michael Arroyo loves baseball, especially the New York Yankees, even though he can't afford to buy a ticket to watch them play. Michael's the best Little League pitcher in the district, and seems destined to lead his all-star team to the championship game, which will be held inside Yankee Stadium, with a trip to the Little League World Series on the line. But all that changes when a jealous rival coach challenges whether Michael is as young as he claims in this novel by Mike Lupica (Philomel, 2006). Placed on the sidelines, Michael desperately tries to find a way to get his birth certificate from Cuba while at the same time keeping social services from finding out that he and his older brother are living on their own following the recent death of their beloved papi. Michael needs all the help he can get from his best friend Manny and from a beautiful, mysterious girl he meets at the baseball field. Although the story moves slowly in a few spots, Paolo Andino's excellent narration will make listeners pull for Michael and his teammates. As good as the baseball games are, though, the best part of the book is when Manny's actor uncle impersonates Michael's father in an attempt to get the social services worker out of their hair. A sure hit with baseball fans.David Bilmes, Schaghticoke Middle School, New Milford, CT

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