Will Gwyneth Paltrow Tangle with Anthony Bourdain?

June 18, 2009

By Karen

The blogosphere is itching for a feud between Anthony Bourdain and Gwyneth Paltrow. In Seattle on May 30, Bourdain ragged on Mario Batali for making Spain…On the Road Again for PBS with Paltrow as his sidekick when she wasn’t eating a Spanish staple — meat. Paltrow hasn’t yet taken the bait, and I’m predicting she won’t.

Socialite Life also reveals that Bourdain and Batali may be cooking up a new show for the Travel Channel. Oh, please, let that rumor be true.

Mission Mission was speculating back in March on Bourdain’s still-to-be-aired San Francisco episode, which he was filming then. The comments on this post contain 2 personal encounters (as well as a link back to Cats Working, thank you), and someone mentions spotting Tony with his “Asian ‘girlfriend.” I bet that was Ottavia.

There’s a shipwreck of a Bourdain fan blog that hasn’t been updated since January. I wonder what ended the honeymoon? I didn’t sift through the old comments looking for buried treasure, but you Bourdainiacs might want to.

Sadly, I know Tony won’t be popping out of my birthday cake this year. He’ll be at the New York Wine and Food Festival October 8-11.

I still haven’t found any personal appearances for June, so I’m guessing he’s either ramping up for Season 6 of No Reservations or taking some well-deserved R&R.

Here’s an interesting online Q&A between Bourdain and fans from 2002, when A Cook’s Tour had been published, and he was still on the Food Network. He mentioned that first wife Nancy’s idea of “extreme cuisine” was meatloaf, but defended it as a good thing.

If you’d like to see a replay of Bourdain’s staged Kung Fu fighting (Can’t recall the NR episode. Hong Kong perhaps?), here’s the clip. He was still wearing the ubiquitous earring and leather jacket. It’s vintage.

And here’s Tony dissing Paris Hilton with Mario Batali, with more links to other topics they covered during that gab-fest.


Another Buffet of Anthony Bourdain

January 12, 2009

By Karen

If Anthony Bourdain holds any grudge against his Russian friend, Zamir, for the widely-panned No Reservations episode in Romania, he’s found a way to show Zamir that revenge is a dish best served cold.

(Photo - Travel Channel)

(Photo - Travel Channel)

Tony and Zamir have been traipsing around the U.S. filming what Tony calls the Rust Belt episode to air this summer. Undoubtedly to lull Zamir into thinking the U.S. is temperate in January, they started out in Baltimore.

Then they hit Detroit.

Remember how Buffalo was a finalist when Bourdain chose a locale from viewer videos? (He ultimately went to Saudi Arabia.) Buffalonian Nelson Starr was so persuasive, In Da Buff reports that Tony planned to help Nelson launch Buffalo Rising, his own Web-based food show devoted to local cuisine à la No Res.

Tony did show up over the weekend and was caught on tape.

Zamir has so far remained silent about the whole experience. Still thawing out, perhaps.

(1/13 Update: Tony just posted a blog entry about Zamir, From Russia With Love. Hilarious!)

I know tonight’s new episode of No Reservations in Venice is destined to become one of my favorites because I love seeing Tony in romantic places with indoor plumbing. I wonder if he’ll shun gondolas like he avoided the pyramids in Egypt. Will we catch any glimpses of Ottavia? I didn’t see her in this preview.

Here’s a lovely homage to Bourdain — a man crush, really — at The Pep Rally. (Bonus: It includes the racy “Bourdain bone” photo.)

I just finished reading Typhoid Mary. Tony dedicated it to his ex, Nancy, and I suspect it benefited from meticulous background research she contributed. Biography isn’t Bourdain’s forté, but he succeeded in making Mary many-faceted, even though little is known about her. Identifying with her as a fellow cook, he comes across as hating the sin, but loving the sinner. It’s only about 150 pages long, out of print, and selling for exorbitant sums on Amazon, but if you can find a copy, I recommend it.


My Personal Bourdain Dilemma

November 26, 2008

By Karen

But first, Cats Working’s latest tidbits about our favorite bad boy chef:

Les Halles in Washington, DC, has closed and news reports were calling it the “brainchild” of Anthony Bourdain, which must amuse him. I thought he just worked in the New York branch, which remains open.

No Reservations’ producers have apparently abandoned all attempts at censorship because here’s another highly detailed account of one of Tony’s stops in the Philippines.

Speaking of censorship, I just learned that his failed special, At the Table, was quickly yanked from YouTube. Were they trying to cleanse the ‘Net of the stench of failure?

I came across a forgotten answer to this burning question: If Tony had still been with Nancy instead of Ottavia, would he have gotten that skull tattoo on his right shoulder for Miami Ink? He answers it himself at the end of Kitchen Confidential:

“My wife, blessedly, has stayed with me through all of it, the late nights, the coming home drunk, my less than charming tendency not to pay any attention at all to her…. A few months back, in a moment of admittedly misguided solidarity with my heavily decorated kitchen crew, I got a tattoo, a reasonably tasteful headhunter’s band around my upper arm. Nancy, however, was on record as finding skin art about as attractive as ringworm; she took it, not unreasonably, as a personal affront. She was mightily pissed off, and still is, for that matter…but she still wakes up next to me every morning, laughs at my jokes on occasion and helpfully points out when I’m being an asshole.”

And now, my personal Bourdain dilemma: There’s An Evening with Anthony Bourdain in Durham, North Carolina, on February 19, 2009. I’m afraid it’s as close as he’ll ever come to Richmond, Virginia. It would involve many hours of driving over possibly treacherous winter roads, taking 2 days off because I’d have to spend the night, and getting someone to feed the cats. Tickets are available. Dare I go?

P.S. For all you Bourdainiacs who can’t get enough, the Travel Channel is running a No Reservations marathon from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. (ET) Friday, November 28.


Anthony Bourdain: Cat Person

July 7, 2008

By Karen

At last, I’ve found a plausible link between Anthony Bourdain and Cats Working. He’s a cat person.

When I first wrote about Tony months ago, I never suspected his name would put my blog on the map. I had no idea he was that big. I kept throwing tidbits on the pile, and now my Most Popular Posts read like Bourdain Central.

The cats aren’t happy about it.

Tony’s wives Nancy and Ottavia battle for No. 1 spot in total hits, and Big Brown periodically edges them out by a nose like the thoroughbred he is.

So I was thrilled to justify it in Bourdain’s own words. He prefers cats to dogs – as pets, not food.

Also, in a letter to Nancy at the beginning of his book, A Cook’s Tour, he tells her he misses the cat.

So Anthony and Nancy Bourdain were cat owners – and fish owners, according to this photo – thoughtfully providing entertainment for their cat.

This is pure speculation on my part, but Ottavia doesn’t strike me as a cat lover. For some reason, I imagine her like my Italian grandmother, who would scream obscenities (in Italian) if a cat snuck into the house and jumped on her kitchen counter, and who believed that old wives’ tale about cats sucking the breath out of babies.

I can’t see Ottavia as a dog person, either, strolling around Manhattan in her big sunglasses behind some pooch, carrying a plastic poop bag.

But I can totally picture Nancy scooping a litter box. How about you?

When Ariane is old enough to start begging for something warm and furry to love, I won’t be surprised if she ends up with a frog or a gecko.


Tony (Bourdain) Trivia: Part 2

July 2, 2008

By Karen

More poking around to find out what makes Anthony Bourdain tick yielded some interesting results:

In March, he was interviewed while filming No Reservations in Uruguay and explained the kinder, gentler demeanor we’ve been seeing. (This was translated electronically from Spanish, so it’s phrased strangely):

“I believe that now I am less angry and pardon a little more. I imagine that I am just a little bit going to be gentle, and I would like to think that I will be less disagreeable and revolting, but I doubt too much to it. (laughter)”

A treasure-trove of Tony trivia is on eGullet forums, where he posted 759 times. When asked if his first wife Nancy inspired the hero’s wife, “Frances,” in his novel, Gone Bamboo, he replied, “I guess you could say there are definitely some similarities.”

Very flattering for Nancy. Frances was virtually Wonder Woman – gorgeous and sexy, too.

But this comment might have been closer to their true relationship:

On a Harper’s Bazaar piece on “Sexy Chefs”: “Total bullshit – and they know it. They could easily have peeked just a little bit deeper and had an interesting story but chose – as usual in such pieces – to basically stick with the generally perceived wisdom – that chefs are just basically hot – and that it must be dreamy to be hooked up with one. As any chef – or chef’s significant other will tell you – that’s far from the truth.”

I wonder if he still loves making this dish, since Ottavia declared his caponata “disgusting” in Tuscany and he’s since said she doesn’t think much of his Italian cooking:

“I do love making a simple Spaghetti à la Chitarra with Pommodoro. For some reason it makes me happy – particularly when I add that finishing shot of olive oil at the end and the pasta sucks up the last of the sauce and sits up pretty on the plate.”


Anthony Bourdain & Nancy: Happier Times

June 30, 2008

By Karen

Life seemed rosy for Tony and Nancy Bourdain when his book, Kitchen Confidential, became a best-seller and earned him an interview in the August 14, 2000, issue of People.

The article, “Reality Bites,” by Peter Ames Carlin and Debbie Seaman, covered ground very familiar to Bourdain fans today so I won’t repeat it, but Nancy was also quoted and here, at last, is a good photo of her:

The photo caption reads: “The stuff we eat is awful,” said Nancy (at home with Bourdain). “But if we’re having a family gathering, I can press him into service.”

Here’s what Nancy said in the article:

Though Bourdain likes to project a freewheeling image, the demands of full-time cooking and a thriving writing career don’t give him much time to waste. “He’s really disciplined,” says Nancy, 45, who helps research Bourdain’s books. “I can’t remember the last time he’s had eight hours’ sleep.”

Now working on a travelogue about exotic foods (“I’ll be looking for monkey brains and poisonous blowfish gizzards”), Bourdain, who lives with Nancy in a spacious one-bedroom apartment in uptown Manhattan, is usually too tired to cook at home. “I thought I’d be eating well,” Nancy says with a chuckle. “I do – if we go out.”

(My thanks to reader Chris who sent me the original article.)


Was Anthony Bourdain’s First Wife a Vampire?

June 6, 2008

By Karen

The former Mrs. Bourdain, Nancy Putkoski, may be one of the undead because her image doesn’t show up on film. When Tony first hit the big time with his book, Kitchen Confidential, you’d think there’d be at least one shot online of him stepping out with his lady, but no.

Perhaps he cleverly camouflaged her as an extra – as he did Ottavia – in an early episode of No Reservations or A Cook’s Tour. You’d think Nancy would have wanted to accompany him to Paris.

But since no one knows what she looks like, she’s still invisible.

I just spent more time than I should have trying to find Nancy, but turned up only postings of other people hunting, too. However, I did find this sexy shot of Tony being compared to the late hunky actor, Victor Mature. It would turn Cats Working into a porn site to show it here, so you’ll have to look for yourself.

I also found (but couldn’t verify) that Tony and Nancy were married September 5, 1985, which was 7 years after they graduated from college. Since they were high school sweethearts, I wondered why the long wait to tie the knot.

Their divorce was final on April 5, 2007, and Ariane was born on April 9. So it’s understandable why Tony and Ottavia didn’t commit a block of time to nuptials during the 4 days he was free before she gave birth. They were married on April 20.

I found Nancy on Classmates.com at Vassar from 1974-78, which means she has a 30-year class reunion coming up. Tony left Vassar in 1975 to attend culinary school.

My next stop was Vassar’s Web site, where there might be a pocket of information, but I couldn’t access it because it’s not my alma mater.

So, if you’re a Bourdain-loving Vassar alum with member’s access to the site or old yearbooks, check out the class of 1978. If you find a photo of Nancy, please report back here. If her photo is a blank gray square, don’t tell me. I’d like to keep believing vampires are mythical.

Asha Gill has an amusing interview with Tony on her site, along with a cute photo of them together that a reader graciously contributed. Asha’s a bright, young, perky brunette who, except for her vegetarianism, seems like Tony’s kind of woman.

So the hunt for Nancy’s image continues, and I hope it doesn’t seem too weird. It’s not like anyone’s out to stake her. It’s just that in a culture overflowing with data and images, it’s eerie for someone to reach Bourdain’s celebrity status and have a phantom wife, ex or not. It’s probably too much to hope he’ll ever write an autobiography to fill in the blanks for his fans.


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