Bourdain Meets the Fockers in Sardinia

By Karen

In the last new Season 5 episode of No Reservations, Tony travels to Sardinia, his Italian father-in-law’s birthplace, and provides an extremely uncharacteristic glimpse into his personal life.

Wife Ottavia will be there, occupying center frame at last and even speaking. In case you’re late coming to the party, here she is from the promo so you’ll recognize her.

Photo - Travel Channel

Photo - Travel Channel

Photo - Travel Channel

Photo - Travel Channel

It won’t surprise me if 2-year-old Ariane is missing. I could be wrong, but I suspect Tony drew the line at putting her on TV. With all the crazies out there, you can’t blame Bourdain for being protective.

I feel kind of responsible for this episode. If not for Cats Working’s relentless curiosity to find the real man behind the bad-boy image — goaded on by several hundred-thousand search engine hits from readers, I might add — I don’t think Tony would have ever considered letting his show get so personal.

Sure, he’s had his brother, niece and nephew on, but they live separate lives.

And next, in our efforts to be fair and balanced…

Stett Holbrook at MetroActive rips Bourdain a new one for behaving like a culinary neocon in the San Francisco episode of No Res. I know it sounds outrageous, but he makes some sense.

To soothe that gaping wound, I’ll let The Hollywood Journal weigh in at the other end of the spectrum, calling No Res “a diamond among the dreck.”

And Fish Wrap declares that legendary low point — Tony in Romania with Zamir — his favorite No Res episode. Go figure.

The Daily Blender listed its top 5 food stories of summer 2009. Tony’s appearance in Connecticut on May 14 with Alice Waters, where she bizarrely named shark fin soup as her favorite last meal, made the list.

Daily Blender also found some (illicit) clips of Bourdain’s Portland, OR, appearance on May 29.

Executing the next step in his All About Eve-ish plot to grab the limelight if Tony ever shows the slightest sign of weakness, Andrew Zimmern has published a book called The Bizarre Truth and talks to Time magazine about eating maggot-infested cheese in Nicaragua. Bon appétit!

33 Responses to Bourdain Meets the Fockers in Sardinia

  1. Bob says:

    I can’t wait to see the Sardinia Episode hopefully there will be a softer gentler side to Tony as he dines with the extended family.

    I have to agree with Karen though I have a sneaking suspicion that Ariane will be absent from the footage.
    I hope we get to see her cute face but after all this ain’t John and Kate plus whatever..

    On the Winnipeg front I found an Article from a LA City Beat that asks “Is Winnipeg for real.”

  2. catsworking says:

    Well, that article Bob links to says the frozen horses really happened. I had to keep shutting my eyes during that part.

    And Bob, was there really a long-running show called Ledge Man?

    I found that whole movie absolutely fascinating, and most of it did have the ring of bizarre truth.

    The reason I don’t think Ariane will be shown in Sardinia is that she was nowhere in the group dining scenes in the promo. I expected to see her sitting beside her mother.

    Speaking of Jon & Kate, watch Kathy Griffin spoofing Kate, with George Takei (Sulu on Star Trek) as Jon.

  3. Bob says:

    Here is the link to the dreaded ledge man….

    To the best of my knowledge it was never a program about a man on a ledge… However back a few years ago our provincial legislature building… “The Ledge” used to be the after hours hang out of a number of male transvestite prostitutes.

    These could be the Ledge Men, in a sardonic sense anyways.

    OK after you guys are done in DC everybody on the bus for a road trip to Winnipeg!!!! Bob’s tour is about to begin.. 🙂

  4. Bob says:

    Sorry here’s the link,,, Having said that we did actually have a thriving local TV scene back in the day.

    Scares me to think about it… Freaky

  5. Lisa says:

    wow, you really are up on yourself aren’t you? If not for ‘cats working’ then this show would not have been aired??? oh really?? and it was not ‘meet the fockers’ at all, if you are familiar with the fockers they were crazy people all about themselves and what they thought in their crazy way was best for their daughter, not the case here. oh and contrary to your doubts, their little one was shown but on their terms, after all these months of following, I find the right time to post this. This particular episode has shut your trap about Anthony, his wife and their family right up once and for all (I doubt it, but we can hope)

  6. Jennifer M. says:

    “The Daily Blender listed its top 5 food stories of 2009 (with 3 ½ months to go — why? — must have been a slow blog day).”

    You might want to take a look again at the article you’re citing…or read it’s content.

  7. catsworking says:

    Lisa, I haven’t seen the episode yet, so I have no opinion on it one way or the other. Just for the record, it was Bourdain who said on his blog that the whole crew was calling it the “Meet the Fockers” episode. I didn’t make that up. And I’m sure they didn’t mean it in a snarly way, nor did I. Lighten up.

    Since it doesn’t seem like you have been keeping up, we have been BIG fans of Ottavia for quite a while. First impressions were deceiving, but we were corrected by Bourdain himself and have publicly apologized to his wife and thanked her for being such a good sport. We think she’s a great, positive influence on his life. And from what I just read on his blog about her family, they ALL are.

    And I’m certainly not trying to take any credit for the episode, but I happen to know that Bourdain is aware of the interest in his personal life as it has filtered through Cats Working. During the second half of Season 5, my numbers have spiked every time a new episode airs, and almost all the searches that bring people here are Bourdain-related.

    The cats aren’t too pleased about that.

    So if you don’t like what you see here, it’s a simple fix. Don’t come back. But thanks for sharing your opinion.

  8. catsworking says:

    Jennifer, all I can say is OOPS! Wiping egg off face now. I completely missed the word “Summer.” I have corrected the post. Thanks for catching my mistake, and welcome!

  9. Bob says:

    Geeze when it rains it pours eh ????

  10. catsworking says:

    Hi, Bob. Yeah, I’ve got a tough crowd here today. Between yesterday and today, the blog has taken nearly 9,000 hits, an all-time record, and much of the searching is on “anthony bourdain wife.” I’m thinking Sardinia spiked some curiosity.

    So I give them the dope and catch a bunch of flak. Go figure.

  11. Adele says:

    Boy, it was a tough crowd. I really liked the Sardinia episode (in fact, I watched it twice last night). No snark at all, but Ottavia is very cool, and we see Ariane mostly in long shots with little focus on her face. Her hair is much lighter, and she looks adorable. And Tony is obviously gaga over her.

  12. Lucia says:

    Tony is obviously gaga over his little girl. Ottavia’s father is Tony’s age or younger. Kinda creepy. That said, Ottavia seems very smart and the wearer of the pants in that family. Personally, I liked Tony when he was a bad boy renegade. At the end of the day, it was all an act. A fun act to watch, but I think he’s had his day in the sun. Not being snarky; just my opinion.

  13. Bob says:

    Well I must admit I really liked the Season Ender… thank you thank you Karen for having it made just for us….. Tongue firmly planted in cheek LOL.

    Truly though it was nice to finally see the family, and get a honest sense of the dynamic going on there.
    I Ottavia was really being a good sport, joking with the camera as she brings Tony down a notch or two.

    Ariane, what a cutie who thought there would be so many curls with her genetic make up??? Can really tell though that she has daddy firmly wrapped around those little fingers already!!

    Well done, I don’t know if I can top that kind of food here. But I guess every place is home to someone right.

  14. boscodagama says:

    The *Lege* is how Molly Ivins (bless her heart) referred to the Texas Legislature, a rather non-astute body.

  15. catsworking says:

    Lucia, Tony really WAS a bad-boy renegade back in the day, but he has matured light years since fame first touched him. If he’d kept on the same track well into his 50s, people would have started laughing at him as a cartoon of himself. So he’s doing the right thing to settle down. Time for the next generation of bad boys, I guess.

  16. catsworking says:

    Sheesh, guys. 😉 I just noted that Cats Working, more than any other blog I know out there, became the clearinghouse for attention on his personal life, which brought home to him and Ottavia that all the curiosity exists. Without that, I don’t think it would have occurred to them to film his relationship with his new family. Sure, he was happy to use his brother and his family as straight men for a send-up on Christmas, but Sardinia was VERY different. The quintessential New Tony.

    I watched it last night and I was extremely impressed with Ottavia. For someone who’s never really had the heat of a camera in her face before while delivering lines, she came off very mature and sophisticated, and certainly a match for Bourdain.

    And Ariane. I’m so glad he did let her appear, and his crew did a nice job of having her dance in and out without giving anybody a real clear look at her face. I LOVE her hair.

    And Bob, you’re right. It would be hard to top the food. I had some leftover whole-grain penne in the fridge I was going to have for dinner, but couldn’t bring myself to open the Tupperware after what I saw in Sardinia. It would have been like eating rolled newspaper.

  17. MorganLF says:

    Get over yourself! Before spouting off realize we are all FANS and for the record Karen MET Tony because of Ottavia and what was written here. That was told to her by Tony HIMSELF.

    Read the other posts. Last October I saw them closeup I wrote about what a doll Ottavia looks like in person. Stills don’t do her justice and I thought the episode was great, my favorite in a long time.

    How cute is that kid? The shots of her are adorable and that hair! I love him with his family and Sardinia is now on my list of places I need to see.

  18. MorganLF says:

    Kathy Griffin is a f’ing pisser! George Takei , brilliant casting laughed ass off!

  19. Cindy says:

    Tried to give you a link to some pix taken at the Emmys, but no go.
    Go to and put Tony’s name in the search box. They have a bunch of good photos.

  20. catsworking says:

    Cindy, thanks for that lead. I will definitely check this out. Do you know if the other Emmys have been awarded yet?

    UPDATE: Lots of great pics! For the rest of you, here’s the link:

    Love Ottavia’s dresses, but in the short one, she’s doing the Michelle Obama belt trick! I better not let Adele see those.

  21. MorganLF says:

    Saw the pics look closely at the close ups of Tony are those gelled up(Fieri style) gray hair spikes?

    Getting douche chills…

  22. Bob says:

    Morgan…. Douche Chills EWWWWWWW..

  23. catsworking says:

    Morgan, I wasn’t crazy about Bourdain’s ‘do on the red carpet either. He has thick curly hair (maybe where Ariane gets her curls from?) on a good day. I wonder if he’s noticing that it’s thinning out and he’s trying to compensate with the spikes?

    I loved Ottavia’s gown. The color and style were classic and gorgeous.

  24. MorganLF says:

    His hair is not thinning I just think he got a too short cut and someone advised him to fluff it up with gel…Tony your dream of turning Italian is almost complete; now all you need is a big chain with a pepper hanging around your neck, LMAO!

  25. Adele says:

    Good to know that some styles are nation wide. There was a time when some of the Italian guys in Chicago wore those gold peppers on chains (in fact a fair amount of jewelry in general) and were in the vanguard of hair blow drying and gel. I loved Ottavia’s dress as well, and I also liked the lighter blue belted one she wore for the Julie and Julia premiere.I think she carries off the belt well. As I looked at the Julie and Julia pictures, though, all I could think was Tony looked so happy, but he had no idea that he was about to be molested by Sandra Lee.

    And Morgan, whence derives the term “douche chills?” It’s certainly descriptive — is it a Jersey thing?

  26. catsworking says:

    Adele, I’m afraid I have to agree with my Adele on the dominatrix belt look. Loved the soft summer dress. thought the big ugly heavy black belt, right under the boobs no less, didn’t enhance the look. And it’s got to be uncomfortable every time you sit down. Think about it. Who needs an underwire bra when you’ve got 3 inches of leather under there?

    Loved Ottavia’s purses as well. Very classy.

  27. Randi says:

    I got the vibe that woman was Anthony’s wife from the part of the episode I saw. I was googling to figure out if the little girl was his kid. She seems so tall for a two year old.

  28. catsworking says:

    Randi, welcome to Cats Working. Bourdain’s daughter Ariane is almost 2 1/2 now, and she’s his only child. I don’t know anything about little kids, but now that you mention it, she did seem kind of tall. Must get that from her father. Bourdain is well over 6 feet.

  29. MorganLF says:


    Douche is a definitive North Jersey, NY, Long Island thing. It really freaks out Southerners. I was once written up at work for using the term after a southern belle complained.

    It goes like this, if you are not sure if your outfit is working and fear you look corny you ask a friend , “Does this look douchey?”.

    If someone is acting up and being a total ahole you tell him “stop being such a douche!”

    If someone cuts you off in traffic you scream “f’n douche bag!!” out the window.

    “Douche chills” are when you realize you look/or did something “douchey” and everyone is laughing at you behind your back.

  30. Adele says:

    Thanks Morgan, although I’m certainly familiar with f’in douchebag and have used it on occasion, myself, I’ve never used or heard the other variations. It could be that I’m just out of touch with Chicago slang, but I tended bar for a couple of years with a bunch of guys, Italian and Irish, who were from Bridgeport — the neighborhood, which spawned the Daley political dynasty and was best known for its total lack of political correctness.

  31. catsworking says:

    The only time I think I ever hear someone called a “douchebag” is when Jon Stewart does it. Of course, my friends aren’t on the cutting edge of slang, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard any of them use it, and they’re mostly all southerners. But we all understand what it means.

  32. Ted Tester says:

    “I feel kind of responsible for this episode. If not for Cats Working’s relentless curiosity to find the real man behind the bad-boy image — goaded on by several hundred-thousand search engine hits from readers, I might add — I don’t think Tony would have ever considered letting his show get so personal.”

    That is priceless. You know you’re on the cutting edge of delusional thinking when you post such tripe. It’s like Letterman’s stalker saying “Because of me, Dave’s relationship with his wife didn’t work out!”

  33. catsworking says:

    Ha, ha, Ted, you’re right! It does sound pretty presumptuous of me, doesn’t it? After all, when Ottavia Bourdain first found Cats Working and tipped off Tony about it, I was the only blogger regularly writing about his personal side, and continue to be, as far as I know. I’ve read reams and reams of interviews he’s done over the past several years, and only a tiny handful ever venture into his personal life. Until very recently, he’s been almost maniacal in keeping the professional and private separate, and he stated directly to me many months ago that it’s misinformation about his personal life that gets under his skin the worst.

    Then all of a sudden he films a show that features his wife and his in-laws. If he didn’t think there was interest out there, why would he do that? And how would he know there’s interest when reporters almost never ask about his family? I guess one way would be to see how the numbers at Cats Working spike when there’s a new post about him. In the 2-3 days surrounding the Sardinia episode, Cats Working logged about 12,000 hits, mostly thanks to searches on Bourdain. Our typical day runs about 500.

    I wasn’t trying to take credit, but merely to speculate that Cats Working may have given Bourdain food for thought in planning shows because Sardinia was a total departure from his usual world-weary, solo traveler format.

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