It seems like an unlikely career move: Bill Buford left a dream job at New Yorker magazine to work as a low-level "kitchen slave" in one of New York's most famous restaurants, Babbo.
It all happened one night when he invited Babbo's celebrity chef Mario Batali over for dinner. After a lot of wine and grappa, the insatiable Batali — a rotund, red-haired dynamo who has a number of restaurants and a hit cooking show on the Food Network — convinced Buford that he would be a great subject for a magazine profile.
Batali allowed Buford to work in Babbo's kitchen, and soon Buford realized there was enough material for a book. The result is Heat, Buford's new book about his year in the Babbo kitchen and his search for the origins of Italian cooking with grandmotherly pasta makers and a Dante-quoting butcher in Italy.