Reader Nickole sent a provocative possibly-Bourdain tidbit from Eater.com, which received a blind item/question to the Top Chef tip line from the friend of a cheftestant in the upcoming 5th season, now being filmed in New York City. It said:
“Say a certain contestant had had a little tryst with a rakish new york rock star chef who is known to be a guest judge on the show. How does this affect his/her decision making ability when the celeb chef has to judge[d] the contestant’s food?”
Speculation immediately began that the “rock star” chef in question is Anthony Bourdain. Said hookup was in the past, so it could have happened when Tony was trolling between Nancy, Paula, and Ottavia (2005-2007). And it seems doubtful he could have known the woman would ever end up on Top Chef.
But I don’t think it’s him, merely because with a new wife and baby and his kinder, gentler persona, he’s anything but “rock star” material now, and he never really was. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think Les Halles was a must-taste NY eatery when he ran the kitchen, and he admits himself that his cooking was never top-tier. Its fame came with his fame – as an author.
It’s been 8 years since Kitchen Confidential was published, and Tony’s been out of the restaurant business nearly that long. His claim even to the title “chef” has become tenuous – occasional forays in front of a stove to fill TV time notwithstanding. If anything, he’s morphed into a professional diner.
Speaking of which, there’s also some speculation on Bourdain’s future with Top Chef, but more on that to come after some research…
[Note: To find the item on Eater.com, scroll down to Top Chef Questions: Can Judging Be Fair in NYC? from July 22, 2008.]