Nancy Putkoski Bourdain isn’t a vampire. She’s been visible to Tony’s fans since A Cook’s Tour, if we only knew where to look. On this particular occasion, the camera happened to catch her after dusk, but it’s purely coincidental.
I apologize for these shots looking so Loch-Ness-Monsterish – blurry and grainy. I took them from my TV during the San Sebastian, Spain, episode, but I’m 99.9% certain it’s Nancy.
A reader named Barb gave me the lead. (Thanks!) I’d be 100% sure it’s Nancy if I only had the Portugal episode (she’s supposed to be in that one, too), but that will have to wait until the Food Network cooperates and shows it again.
Tony wrote about this nocturnal crawl through tapas bars with a group of women in his companion book. About his wife, he says, … I’d compounded the danger factor by bringing along my wife, Nancy, a woman with her own limitless potential for causing mayhem…. I was keeping a sharp, worried eye on Nancy, who hated the idea of making a television show, hated being near a camera, and had already taken a serious dislike to the producer for keeping me busy most of the day shooting ‘B-roll,’ meaning scenery, shots of me walking around and pretending I was thinking deep thoughts, while she stewed, neglected, in a hotel room.
Here’s our first glimpse of Nancy, talking to Tony at the bar.
Next, I caught her in the background, the middle woman behind Tony:
And as the sequence wraps, Tony thanks his “posse” of women standing around him, numbering them, “1, 2, 3, 4.” Then he hesitates while looking off-camera to his right before saying, “5,” and they briefly widen the frame to include Nancy:
If she hated his TV antics that much back then, her attitude probably didn’t improve when he hopped to The Travel Channel and his shooting schedule doubled to an hour-long format with No Reservations.
But now curious fans can say they’ve seen her at last and another of life’s great mysteries has been solved.