Bourdain Meets Tomas, Up Close & Personal

November 8, 2010

By Karen

Anthony Bourdain’s been busy making television. He returned from Cambodia in time for Halloween, and wife Ottavia tweeted that he became Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas to escort his daughter, Little Red Riding Hood.

Yet Tony claims he has no interest in “stretching his range” as an actor.

This past week, he flew to Haiti during a cholera epidemic to rendezvous with Hurricane Tomas, so we’ll probably see another breakout episode of No Reservations next season.

I think I smell an Emmy nomination…

I just hope Tony and his crew didn’t drink the water, stayed in one piece, and get home safely (tonight, according to Ottavia).

The HarperCollins Medium Raw essay contest wrapped with 1,949 entries. Michael P., a mover by profession, won for writing “Late Nights.” It only garnered 3 reader votes and was ranked #834 among all entries. None of the runners-up ranked lower than #383 in reader votes, and the first runner-up was #2.

The methodology would make you think the winner would have been #1 in reader votes, but that would have been a crock because many entrants campaigned online for votes, even if their essays were crap. So it’s no surprise that Bourdain’s people dug deeper into the pile for the winner.

But here’s the promo blurb for the essay, which I assume Michael P. also wrote:

On those late nights after moving you peoples stuff all over the city all I need is a home cooked meal and a beer.

When I saw that, I had a “WTF?” moment. No offense to Michael P. — he wrote about what he knew and from the heart — but I’m surprised the essay won because exactly one sentence in 300 words mentions food. It says…

The arroz con pollo is cooked perfectly and a small side of tostones is topped with a spicy pico de gallo.

But Michael P. sounds like Tony’s favorite kind of downtrodden working stiff, albeit not a kitchen slave, who will be truly grateful to win the $10K Bourdain personally pledged.

Just as Kitchen Confidential spawned a new genre of culinary tell-all, Bourdain’s upcoming graphic novel, Get Jiro!, is being credited with inspiring knockoffs even before its publication, like The Dirt Candy Cookbook.

Here’s an interesting post from Catalan Cooking, although only the opening and third-from-last paragraphs are about Bourdain. First, she calls Kitchen Confidential a male Eat, Pray, Love, and in relating a personal appearance anecdote near the end, says Bourdain has “a drawl.”

Yeah, just like Fran Drescher’s and Woody Allen’s.

Later this week, several Cats Working readers and I are having a personal brush with Bourdain at an evening of great food, the DC Capital Food Fight, hosted by Tony and José Andrés, with Eric Ripert and Tom Colicchio. Stay tuned…


Bourdain Done Writing About Himself?

October 4, 2010

By Karen

The Medium Raw Essay Challenge wrapped up on September 30 with more than 1,900 entries. Bourdain disengaged early on, commenting on 5 of the first few entries. His publisher has “people” sifting through the pile, so Tony evaluate only 10 essays, selecting a winner on or about November 1. To all Cats Working readers who entered, Good Luck!

Bourdain’s buddy Eric Ripert has been tweeting Gordon Ramsay a new asshole lately, and Eater.com did a pretty thorough analysis of what may be going on.

Bourdain spoke in Indianapolis, Indiana, on September 30, and the local indie publication, Nuvo, snagged an interview, but it’s hard to tell how old it is because Tony mentioned Rome as an “upcoming” episode of NR. One daring question was asked: Does an eating disorder help Tony stay slim?

Jason Kerr, writing for the Houston Press, snuck into Bourdain’s appearance on September 20 (the one Tony thought went so badly), ended up briefly meeting Bourdain and losing his Sharpie forever. Jason has seen every episode of No Reservations and read the books, but still found Bourdain’s presentation “awesome.” He also provides some good pointers on how to crash an appearance without a ticket.

Tony spoke at length by phone to Australia’s most popular food blogger, Not Quite Nigella (Lorraine Elliott). It’s worth a look because she illustrated the interview beautifully. He talked about Ariane quite a bit, and said he wouldn’t mind having another daughter. He also said he doesn’t foresee ever writing another book like Medium Raw.

In a somewhat belated review of Medium Raw by Christa at Minnesota Reads, she asked who Bourdain thought his intended audience was. I have no doubt he wondered the same thing. Right now he straddles the worlds of food and travel, but he knows his grip on food is slipping, which is why he told Not Quite Nigella he’s through writing about himself.

Personally, I don’t entirely believe him. I see first-person books about his travels in his future — like the one he’s already contracted to write about Vietnam.

On September 30, Bourdain had a sold-out appearance with Ripert in Indianapolis. The IndyStar.com got some great candid shots of them, and almost as many complaints on the scant reporting of what was said. According to the attendees, Tony and the Ripper slayed ‘em.

When Bourdain appeared in St. Louis on October 1, he announced he’s filming an Ozarks episode of No Res in Missouri and Arkansas next season.

StLToday revealed that the protagonist of Tony’s upcoming graphic novel, Get Gyro or Get Jiro, will be a sushi chef.


Bourdain Gets Emmy Nomination – Finally

July 12, 2010

By Karen

In an off-week for personal appearances and book signings, Anthony Bourdain relaxes by picking up an Emmy nomination and giving away $10,000.

Tony’s writing on No Reservations: Prague earned him a personal Emmy nomination, and he’s not up against Ted Koppel this time. The only other nominee I think may give him trouble is The Buddha on PBS because, well — he’s a deity. The rest sound beatable: America: The Story of Us (History Channel), Challenges of Life (Discovery), and The National Parks: America’s Best Idea (PBS).

Good luck, Tony!

The Travel Channel’s owner, Scripps, issued a tweet congratulating “Andrew Bourdain” on his nomination. Food Network Humor theorized that Scripps mixed up Tony with Andrew Zimmern and showed what the result would look like.

Speaking of competition, there’s a rolling boil in the Medium Raw essays. Several Cats Working readers have entries, although not yours truly. The original prize was publication in the MR paperback edition — until Eater complained that Tony is exploiting writers without compensation and Gawker joined in.

Bourdain swiftly informed Eater that he is personally adding $10K to the pot and wants Eater’s editor to present it to the winner. Tony confirms this in his own blog post.

I vaguely remember Bourdain once saying either he’s never written anything he didn’t get paid for, or he doesn’t write unless it pays. I think it was the first one. Anyway, if somebody’s writing publishable work, it’s only fair to pay them something for it, although I doubt Bourdain himself has ever gotten $20 a word.

Denver Westword weighed in on the controversy and called Tony a “book pimp.”

But that was nothing compared SF Gate restaurant consultant Clark Wolf, who recently wrote, “I’ve had it with Tony Bourdain…. Frankly, I consider him the Rush Limbaugh of food. He makes cash spewing vitriol and lunacy designed to appeal to the struggling classes — workers and diners alike — he actually exploits.” Commenters on that post mostly defended Bourdain.

On July 6, Tony took on 4 interrogators at MSNBC’s Morning Joe and shot down the female host’s insistence that famous chefs should promote healthy eating.

This week, No Reservations visits America’s “Heartland,” and we see Tony eat in Michigan, Ohio (with his buddy Ruhlman), Texas, Colorado, Wisconsin, and Minnesota in scenes filmed between his personal appearances. Brandon at Room 214 again provided a link to the whole episode. Food looks good. Unknown chefs are as dedicated as anyone, and Tony realizes that even people in the ‘burbs and rural communities occasionally pass up McDonald’s to eat unusual dishes prepared well.

Bourdain also just blogged about how he’s coping with aging — and how Sylvester Stallone’s inability to cope has turned him into Mr. Potato Head.


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