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Taking the 'Heat' in Mario Batali's Kitchen

<strong>Web Extra:</strong> Hear Author Bill Buford Read an Excerpt from 'Heat' Detailing a Dinner Party with Mario Batali

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.

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Madeleine Brand
Madeleine Brand is the host of NPR’s newest and fastest-growing daily show, Day to Day. She conducts interviews with newsmakers (Iraqi politicians, US senators), entertainment figures (Bernardo Bertolluci, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Ricky Gervais), and the everyday people affected by the news (an autoworker laid off at GM, a mother whose son was killed in Iraq).