Bourdain Strikes Again – Watch Out, Alice Waters

By Karen

Talk about biting the hand that wines and dines you. Anthony Bourdain left the Grand Cayman Cookout this past weekend to fly to Washington, DC, on Inauguration Eve for a $500-a-plate celebration bash. The wine, Ponzi’s Arneis, was chosen by Alice Waters.

In a bit of exceptionally unfortunate timing, dclist released online earlier that day an interview Bourdain gave the previous week from home base in New York (thanks for the link, Cindy!). In it, Bourdain bashed Alice Waters:

“I’ll tell you. Alice Waters annoys the living shit out of me. We’re all in the middle of a recession, like we’re all going to start buying expensive organic food and running to the green market. There’s something very Khmer Rouge about Alice Waters that has become unrealistic. I mean I’m not crazy about our obsession with corn or ethanol and all that, but I’m a little uncomfortable with legislating good eating habits.”

I’d never heard of Alice Waters, so I did a little digging and discovered this. It may be what set Tony off.

Interestingly, Tony and Alice both have New Jersey roots and started out specializing in French cooking. But that’s apparently where any similarity ends.

Bonus Links:

Warning: You won’t feel the love in this post by Zeitgeisty, who has done a complete 180 on Bourdain. But since his new idols are Andrew Zimmern and Adam Richman of Man vs. Food, you gotta wonder.

Bourdain’s (former?) buddy, Tom Colicchio, recently saved cookbook author and NY Times writer Joan Nathan with a timely Heimlich maneuver.

1/23/09 UPDATE: On that last item, get this. I just discovered that it was Alice Waters who noticed Joan Nathan choking and summoned Colicchio. Small world, huh?


22 Responses to Bourdain Strikes Again – Watch Out, Alice Waters

  1. boscodagama says:

    I’m glad he slams that travesty with Mario & Paltrow in Spain. That’s an awfully poor show..

  2. zeit says:

    ahem… I’d HARDLY call them my new IDOLS.

    As I stated in my piece, I dug Bourdain when he first hit my radar, but nowadays he’s about as entertaining … stepping on a cat’s tail! Being a cat person, I’m sure you can agree that’s not very pleasant.

  3. zeit says:

    Although let me just say THIS…. I think what you have him quoted as saying about Alice Waters is pure GENIUS…. I totally agree with it.

  4. catsworking says:

    Hi, Zeit! Yes, from the reaction I get whenever I accidentally step on one of the cats’ tails, I agree with you.

    OK, maybe “idols” was too strong a word. At least I didn’t call it a “man crush!”

    Even though it was negative, I thought your Bourdain post was great. Cats Working isn’t a rabid fan-fest. We try to present both sides of Bourdain, and you did a good job of reminding us that he’s not for everybody. Thanks so much for checking in.

  5. catsworking says:

    Hmmmm… now you’ve got me intrigued, Zeit. I’ve got to do some more checking into this Alice Waters character to see what this is all about. Though my initial reaction to her trying to worm her way into Obama’s menu was, “That takes some nerve. She must really think she’s something.”

  6. MorganLF says:

    I KNEW IT! I just knew it. Thanks for that link I read the interview and it was great,but as to his political leanings I am affirmed!! Here is his quote:

    “I’m particularly proud and happy about our new president. There will be a tangible difference in the way Americans are treated abroad. It just feels better. Above and beyond all the policy.”

    God I love that man!

    To me he’s even more fabulous than ever…Zeit can’t deal with the evolution of the man. The further he travels away from the skinny junkie street kid the more evolved he becomes I like all his phases.

  7. petunia says:

    I think TB really missed the boat with what Alice Waters was saying, maybe because his own privilege blinds him to what its like in run down (read black and Latino) neighborhoods. I think what Waters is getting at is that people need to demand access to better food. If you have spent any time in neighborhoods like Harlem or parts of the Bronx, you know how hard the people there had to fight to get a decent market with fresh veggies instead of relying on bodegas. In parts of the Bronx there aren’t even any supermarkets, just gas stations with hot dogs and snack foods. ABC did a program a while back on obesity in the African American community in Los Angeles. A guy who was trying to lose weight invited the host to walk with him through his neighborhood where there was NOTHING but fast food franchises. He asked the host, “Where am I supposed to buy healthy food?” These people don’t have cars, they have to lug their groceries on the bus. White neighborhoods don’t have this problem. Since Obama is our first A-A president, I think Waters was saying he could really have an impact on this problem. I don’t think she was trying to be elitist–TB really should think through the ramifications of what people say before he gets on his high horse.

  8. Adele says:

    There’s been periodic conversation on Michael Ruhlman’s blog about the locavore, seasonal, sustainable, organic food movements, and it keeps coming back to this — fast food should be avoided whenever possible, but the reality of many people’s lives is that they can’t afford to shop at green markets and Whole Foods or eat meat that’s been humanely and safely raised — the prices are simply too high. But it’s reasonable to expect that everyone should have access to decent produce and acceptable protein products. Alice Waters is a bit of a food nazi, but she’s also been a positive influence on American cuisine. If she and her ilk can influence the Obama administration that the availability of good food is a political issue, more power to her. But Tony’s right, too, about free choice — and the reality is, that many people are working 2 jobs or crazy hours. You can feed yourself well, inexpensively, but it takes time, and one must be careful not to judge people about their choices. This is another area where Barack’s inaugural admonition to recognize ourselves in others should be heeded.

    And Morgan, I also love that he’s a Barack guy and the reasons for it. (I figured he was). Karen, I know if there’s something about a face-off between TB and Alice Waters, you’ll find it.

  9. catsworking says:

    Morgan, you posted 2 comments that were similar, so I combined them. Yes, I felt that his comments about Obama affirmed what I’d known all along — Tony’s a liberal. And the fact that he left Grand Cayman to be in the chaos of DC for the inauguration speaks volumes.

    With Zeit, I think it may be a guy thing. You know, attention span. Women tend to be more faithful and forgiving of bad boys. Especially when they have a certain magnetic quality. Men are impervious to that stuff.

  10. catsworking says:

    Petunia, I think you have made some very valid points. There seems to be a vicious circle in areas with limited access to fresh food. Even if a Whole Foods opened in Harlem, would people be willing to pay triple for an “organic” potato?

    If anyone’s going to make a dent in this problem, it’s going to have to be by making fresh, organic food less expensive. I know when I’m in Kroger and I see regular, pesticide-soaked tomatoes on sale for 99/lb. compared to the organic ones for 2.99/lb, guess which I put in my cart?

    I do bite the bullet and buy whole-grain pasta at almost $2 a box when I could get the regular kind for less than $1. Bread, same thing.

    When you look at the prices Alice Waters charges for all her healthy fare in her restaurant, she hardly seems a likely spokesperson for affordable, healthy eating.

  11. Bob says:

    Holy Crap Holy Crap

    First Karen gets a post card from Tony.. Now I am on the No Reservations site.
    Cats Working is a Wonderful thing!!!!!

    I am the first poster on Ask The Crew.. I was on there trolling for tidbits, some guy was asking about the Gaffes and Screw Ups on the Road… Looked down and it was written by me!!!! Months ago… Forgot I even asked it..

    How Cool is that , Cats Working is Where its At!!!!!


  12. catsworking says:

    Adele, I think Tony has thrown down the gauntlet, and I will be watching for Waters’ response.

    I just got home from Trader Joe’s, where I was looking at whole chickens because I want to try cooking one in my crockpot this weekend as an experiment. Food Lion had an ad for 89/lb., so I could get what I need for less than $4. The same size chickens in Trader Joe’s were in the $10 range. I’m sure they are very tasty, but it was a no-brainer for me. I’ll be hitting Food Lion tomorrow. 😉

  13. catsworking says:

    Congratulations, Bob! I think I’ve posted 2 comments on Bourdain’s blog, but they’re lost amid a sea of them.

  14. catsworking says:

    Bob, that is so cool! Now you, I, and Morgan have all had our personal brushes with Bourdain.

    And I’ve got another one coming up in February in Durham.

  15. Bob says:


  16. MorganLF says:

    Bob that rules!!!!! We are the premier Bourdain info site! Karen sorry about the double post, the server at work is trying to prevent me getting through and I thought the first one got lost. Fate? software glitch? destiny? You decide.

  17. catsworking says:

    No problem on the double post, Morgan. Don’t miss the update on this post. Seems Alice Waters doesn’t know how to do a Heimlich maneuver, so don’t ever choke in her restaurant!

    By the way, did you ever get around to Ariane’s place? She got the boot on Top Chef this week. I thought it should have been either of the other two, but I guess they’re going to let that little romance play out a while longer.

    If Leah was Bourdain’s ex-girlfriend, she has certainly shown versatility in her taste in men. And not too bright. Surely she’s got to realize that nothing good can come of getting involved with a cheftestant.

  18. MorganLF says:

    It can’t be Leah…maybe it’s just plain not him, then again his taste in women varies quite a bit too. Can you think of anyone more diametrically opposite that Nancy and Ottavia? Have not got there yet. My birthday is coming up and its between that and Les Halles. Think Les Halles has the edge but I’ll get there by and by. Gotta check out the updates at home can’t get through the snoop software on the job.

  19. catsworking says:

    I could see him hooking up with Leah for a meaningless fling back when he was at loose ends. Why not, if she was there?

    Although Nancy and Ottavia are quite different physically, I think they’re more alike than not. From what he says, they’re both strong personalities who pull no punches and say what they think. When Nancy was Ottavia’s age, she was probably just as attractive (as we all were!) in her own way.

  20. Adele says:

    Morgan, I was wondering whether you’d made it to Ariane’s place as well, and I’m with you — perhaps the celebrity chef, who had a prior tete a tete with one of the cheftestants, wasn’t TB, at all. I also thought Leah or Hosea should have been booted week before last, rather than Ariane. After seeing last week’s episode, I decided that Leah was just too young and clingy to be a Bourdain squeeze. And also too dimwitted — I know the cheftestants are away from home for a long time, but c’mon why would you give even the slightest whiff of messing around with another cheftestant, when you know the camera constantly follows you? I must say that this year’s Top Chef suffers not only for Bourdain’s absence, but for the cheftestants, themselves. Keeping Leah and Hosea around just to play out their little romance is the cheapest stunt I’ve seen in the 3 seasons I’ve been watching, and I expect the winner to be Stefan, who never makes a misstep, but who doesn’t exactly blow me away with his style (or personality).

  21. catsworking says:

    Adele, I agree with your Top Chef assessment. I’m thinking Leah was hoping to shed her homey boyfriend in absentia by letting him watch her with Hosea. Hosea showed what a tool he is by saying he regretted the kissing and cuddling they did the night before the restaurant war. It takes two to tango, Buddy! Don’t try to make Leah look cheap and weak just because you were willing.

    Perhaps because Stephanie won last season after being so nice, all the cheftestants this season have decided the high road is the one to take. It sure makes for dull television.

    I also think Stefan could win it, but I’m pulling for Fabio. He’s got the look and manner to become the Italian Emeril, and I’d rather watch him cook than Stefan any day.

    As the numbers continue to dwindle, Leah and Hosea will increasingly grate on everyones’ nerves. Carla has been indulging them and saying how cute they are, but when she got stuck working with them and almost booted off, her tune changed a bit. Maybe they’re being kept around just to see if they bring out anybody’s inner meat cleaver.

    Either way, all claims that the show isn’t rigged somehow ring hollow with me.

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