The last tidbits I picked up from my evening with Anthony and Ottavia Bourdain at the Capital Food Fight in Washington, DC, on November 11:
Bourdain’s next book…
The manuscript is due in December for June 2010 publication, so Tony must be putting the finishing touches on it now. There will be a book tour. Ottavia told me the title may not be Cooks. She hasn’t read it. He only lets her see his finished work because she said her criticism is “too brutal.”
Ottavia showed me a picture of Ariane in a full-length white gown for Halloween, saying proudly that she looked like “a beautiful little bride.” Mama took Ariane trick-or-treating and she loved it. Tony was traveling and upset to miss it, but he already has next Halloween blocked off on his schedule. According to Ottavia, Ariane has her mother’s good appetite, eyes, and the strawberry blonde hair Ottavia had as a child, as well as Dad’s mouth and height. The height should serve her well because she’s studying ballet.
Ariane was with them in DC, staying at the hotel with her nanny. From there, they were flying to Miami for Tony’s appearance on November 13 with Jacques Pepin and Eric Ripert. He was due to speak in Schenectady, NY, on November 15, which regrettably didn’t leave much time for Miami R&R.
Ottavia is “really excited” about moving to Vietnam, but doesn’t see it happening for a few years because of Tony’s many other commitments. However, he’s returning there in 2010 to, I assume, shoot another No Reservations.
In New York, the Bourdain’s don’t go out much. Tony is recognized everywhere, and when he’s not traveling, he’d rather relax at home — and not in the kitchen. Ottavia said it’s not because she doesn’t like his cooking, as he claims. With a laugh she told me, “When I married a chef, I thought good… but no, he doesn’t cook much.”
After their early drinking dates, starting very late after her restaurant closed, they drink little at home. Ottavia said, “Mainly, Anthony drinks for the show and socially, but not in airports at 10 in the morning.”
Bourdain’s Alternate Universe…
I asked Tony if casting himself as the mad scientist for the “Cooking Channel” in his new animated Web series was deliberate, since Travel Channel’s new owners will be launching a channel by that name. He said with some irony, “No, it was serendipitous.”
Life imitating his art. Sometimes the snark is purely unintentional.
He also mentioned that this “Web freebie” turned out to be a lot more work than he envisioned. Ottavia said it was the brainchild of one of the producers’ relatives, a graphic designer.
After the Food Fight, Ottavia asked me to accompany her up on stage, where Tony gave her a big kiss. Then he noticed me, and I said jokingly, “She and I are new best friends.”
He answered, “I was afraid of that.”
For all his misgivings about allowing me access to his wife, Bourdain placed his hand on my shoulder, not on my throat. Remarkable restraint.
People were clamoring to meet him on stage, so Ottavia and I returned to the floor, where two young Asian women shyly approached Ottavia. They recognizing her from No Res in Sardinia and told her they loved it. Ottavia seemed touched and surprised, and obligingly posed for a photo with them.
They left, and when I observed, “You have your own fans now,” she giggled.
Tony and Ottavia seem like a perfect fit. They’re attentive to each other, but she’s comfortable stepping back to share him with fans. Her self-confidence and maturity must help to ground him, but she also has a youthful ebullience that he probably needs to keep himself going at times.
When the night was over, we walked outside for another soaking by Hurricane Ida and ran in to none other than Tony, Ottavia, and Eric Ripert on the empty street. Tony bounded away to hail a cab and off they went.