The first time I saw Anthony Bourdain on television I thought he was a pretty cocky ass. Parading on camera with some devil-may-care attitude and snide remarks. That’s the problem with first impressions, they aren’t always right.

Maybe you need to work in a professional kitchen to appreciate Bourdain. But having read his books I have a new found appreciation for the guy. If you aren’t familiar with him, and I can’t believe you aren’t, you need to be. A former chef, his ability to describe food and the subculture of the kitchen is amazing. The more I watch “No Reservations” the more I see the humanitarian side of Bourdain. Sorry Anthony, you’ve been outed.

That’s what I like about the restaurant business. A strange collection of people for sure but every one of them has a kind streak that can take the uninitiated off guard. From the pot washer without a pot to pee in to the hostess, they’re all willing to lend a hand if needed.

Michael Ruhlman is another amazing food writer. What sets Ruhlman apart from most is the guy actually knows what the hell he’s talking about. He’s trained in the art, he’s worked the kitchen. Chances are he’s slogged dishes in the pit as well. Read his blog. He’s dedicated and, like Bourdain, he gets it.

Ruhlman and I had lunch one day when he was at the CIA (The Culinary Institute of America) researching The Reach of a Chef. During family meal at the Colavita Center’s Caterina restaurant we spoke about the toll this industry can take on relationships. I don’t recall the details but he’s a pretty cool guy. If you were to ask Michael about the conversation he probably won’t even remember it.

If you are serious about the craft of cooking or if you love food you need to know these two people.