Heat by Bill Buford Vintage, HK$144 As the former fiction editor of The New Yorker, and before that the editor of Britain's Granta, Bill Buford's literary credentials are beyond question. The full title of this passionate and funny book is clarity itself - Heat: An Amateur's Adventures as Kitchen Slave, Line Cook, Pasta-Maker, and Apprentice to a Dante-Quoting Butcher in Tuscany. It's also delightfully redolent of his scholarly sub-plot, an exploration of Renaissance cooking in which he discovers the first use of an egg combined with flour to make pasta. At 3am, after one of his typically disaster-strewn Manhattan dinner parties, Buford persuades American celebrity chef Mario Batali to hire him as a kitchen worker at his Babbo restaurant. So begins the apprenticeship of an amateur who learns - via an almost constant stream of verbal abuse, deliberate splashes of hot oil, carelessly sliced fingertips and various head injuries - about the adrenalin addiction that pervades great kitchens when the pressure is on. A single mistake will cause chaos, but Buford still discovers that cooking is as sensual as eating. The author knows how to whet the appetite. As the title suggests, this is a banquet of a book.