Becoming Mrs. Bourdain

By Karen

After Ottavia began spending a lot of time at Tony’s place while they were dating, he invited her to stay an entire weekend, but she said she’d have to go home to feed Lupetto. Tony told her to bring the cat over, and Lupetto never left.

I said, “You know when a man accepts your cat, you have found a good man.”

Ottavia smiled and nodded in agreement.

She said she wasn’t particularly interested in getting married because things were going well. Now I’m surmising here, but Tony must have realized he’d found a keeper because he started talking about — brace yourselves — having a family.

Kids. His idea. Goes to show how little Tony lets TV and his books reveal about his soft side.

But in July 2006, Tony got trapped filming No Reservations in Beirut (his first episode to be nominated for an Emmy). Ottavia said he phoned her almost daily, but when he told her the cell phone towers were being bombed and they might lose touch, she got really worried. “The Italians and other countries got their people out. Where were the Americans?” she asked.


Ottavia Bourdain talks to Cats Working (Photo - Morgan)

When she was offered a seat on the private plane sent to meet Tony and his crew wherever the Marines dropped them off, she took it.

That close call made them both realize there’s no guarantee of tomorrow, so they decided to go for the family. They succeeded in conceiving on their first try, and Ottavia found out while they were vacationing in the Caribbean (or Miami, not sure which).

One night in December 2006, she was lying on the couch, “VERY pregnant, watching something dreadful on TV, like Dancing with the Stars,” when Tony asked her to marry him.

Impending motherhood had changed her attitude toward marriage, so she accepted. The only hitch was that Tony’s divorce wasn’t quite final yet.

I asked Ottavia what her parents thought of the 22-year age spread, and she told me she had always been a good kid, never in any trouble, so they trusted her judgment. Her mother read Kitchen Confidential. Although she didn’t find it exactly reassuring, all she said was, “Be careful.”

Ottavia said, “I was never into the big white dress or anything,” and a civil ceremony in April 2007 with no trimmings suited her perfectly. When I asked if they had a honeymoon, she replied with a smile, “We’ve been on many,” and I got the impression they’re on honeymoon wherever they go together.

Ottavia still studies martial arts for the exercise, but doesn’t fight much because it has caused some problems with her back, knee, and leg. But she’s glad to be able to defend herself, and plans to have Ariane start lessons next year.

The Bourdains traveled to Tuscany to film No Reservations when Ariane was just 4 weeks old, and Ottavia was asked to appear in the scene where Tony prepares an Italian meal for the crew. She said it was delicious and everybody was gobbling it, but they told her to say on camera that it was “disgusting” to make the scene funny.

The truth is, Tony does know how to cook good Italian.

And speaking of babies, I was wrong. Ottavia is not pregnant now, but she hinted that Ariane may not always be an only child.

Cats Working once asked if Bourdain’s wife chooses obscurity. Ottavia definitely does. She’s been asked to appear on No Res many times, but declines. She agreed to do the Sardinia episode only because her whole family was so excited about it. In the spring they’ll be filming in Rome and she’ll be there, but said she has no plans to appear on camera.

(We’ll be watching the edges of every frame, just in case.)

Bourdain travels so much, I asked Ottavia if it’s hard on her. She told me when Tony is anywhere within the U.S., she feels “he’s just a few hours away, so it’s not so bad.” Sometimes he comes home for a night, or she and Ariane go to him. It’s only when he’s overseas that she really feels distance between them.


Anthony Bourdain hosting the 2009 Capital Food Fight (Photo - Morgan)

Next: Bourdain Food Fight Pan Scrapings (sans Nasty Bits)


11 Responses to Becoming Mrs. Bourdain

  1. Bob says:

    (Standing Clapping)
    Well Done Karen!!! Now that is a piece well worthy of Catsworking. Sigh, I am truly happy in my heart that those two crazy kids found love!! 🙂

    I personally have done the long distance thing a time or two, but I can’t imagine having continents between me and my lady love.

    I had a feeling that Tony was an ol’softy, seems the more us men try to hide our feelings the more we surprise women when they actually come out.

    Well Karen, you had better nail that hit counter down I have a feeling that it’s going to be going ballistic on this one!! Congrats!!

  2. Adele says:

    “Where were the Americans?” Ah, Ottavia, that’s a question that can be asked repeatedly in so many situations from foreign to domestic. Karen, you’ve done a fine job, here, worthy of Ottavia’s trust. The Lebanon episode gives the Bourdain’s love story that 1950’s chick flick quality, “a love that neither war nor distance could tear asunder.” Bob’s right, the counter will probably go apeshit, and the people at Page 6 or the New York Post and People and New York Magazine will probably be quite envious if they see this little series — in journalism, isn’t this what they call a “get?”

    Ariane is so lucky on many levels; of course, she’ll get to travel and be bi-cultural, but her mom will raise a feisty independent woman. An adoring father doesn’t hurt either. And speaking of adoring fathers, will the Bourdains be spending time in Viet Nam?

  3. catsworking says:

    Adele, I have an answer to the Vietnam question coming up next, and I’ll say the answer kind of surprised me.

    After I had some time to reflect on the evening (and after recovering from my 3-martini hangover), I realized that I may have been the first journalist to ever “interview” Ottavia. (Yes, I am sometimes a professional journalist; blogging is a hobby. I have press credentials through the Cat Writers’ Association. Yeah, I know. I think that’s laughable, too, which is why I never use them anywhere. But I have interviewed many business professionals and company presidents over the years. I’m familiar with the technique.)

    But this “interview” came out of the blue. I asked Ottavia relatively few questions. She seemed to want to tell me her story. I am very gratified that she apparently decided she could trust me from reading Cats Working. And Tony should be extremely proud that she handled herself so well. He had nothing to worry about.

  4. Bob says:

    I must agree with you Karen. The inter”Mew” couldn’t have been given to a cooler cat.

    Like I said you took everything well into Paw and did a kat nippy good job of painting them as they were.

  5. catsworking says:

    Bob, I’m in the doghouse with the cats at the moment. After your Les Halles adventure monopolized the previous week, they’re saying, “What, you’re writing about that Bourdain guy AGAIN???!!!” It’s been taking a lot of extra Temptations treats to keep them at bay.

    Michelle Obama has a new belt and Adele’s been chomping at the bit to shred it.

  6. Bob says:

    HHHHH, maybe the Bourdains could send a care pack from NYC…. After all they do seem to know the places to get good kitty treats….

    after all this good press its the least they can do.

    Kidding of course.. this is just a place to wash our paws after a night out on the town

  7. Mandy T. says:

    What a great story! I love Anthony Bourdain and wanted to despise his wife (sorry, just jealous) but from this interview, she comes across as really lovely, kind and level-headed. I was like, “damn, I can’t hate her”!! They’re a great family!

  8. catsworking says:

    Welcome, Mandy!

    I’m first to admit I was pretty shocked when I stumbled across that little video of Ottavia. Bourdain and I are in the same ballpark, age-wise, so I hated to think of him splitting from his high-school sweetheart to have a middle-life crisis with a much younger woman.

    But ya know, sometimes that exactly what MUST happen. I’ve been in Ottavia’s position with older men in two long-term relationships, and they simply outgrew their marriages. Their wives were content to sit home (in Europe, in both cases) while they roamed the world seeking new experiences. But both men eventually turned chicken on making the U.S. their new home base and went sniveling back to their wives…but that’s another story.

    Anyway, Tony’s first wife didn’t sign on to be married to a TV celebrity whose job was travel, so you really can’t blame either of them for growing apart when his life was totally transformed. On the other hand, Ottavia knew exactly what she was getting into and she seems to take it all in stride and with a lot of good humor. It looks like he was lucky enough to have found exactly the type of woman he needs at this stage of his life.

    I give Ottavia’s parents a lot of credit for raising her to be so adaptable and worldly — AND a good mother herself!

  9. Jackie Moore says:

    whats so great about a man(i use the term loosely) who is married for thirty years to a woman who puts up with so much and he dumps her to find someone young enough to be his daughter, lets see if she sticks around when he’s 70 and she is his age now

  10. T says:

    I’m so shocked to hear about Ottavia and Anthony’s separation! Of all people, I thought that she would be the one to stick with him despite his traveling schedule because she has such an active life of her own. Sad. Will you write a blog post on this? Would love to hear your perspective. This was (is) the best blog that detailed their relationship.

  11. catsworking says:

    T, I just saw an article about this late today and I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. All I’ll say now is that it stunned me like when you hear of someone famous you took for granted dying suddenly.

    I had noticed Tony stopped wearing his wedding ring last season of Parts Unknown but thought it was his new MMA training. This separation may have started long ago.

    I will do some research for a post. My thoughts are with both Bourdains because I know they must be hurting. Cats Working has taken a backseat since Tony hit the big time, but I feel compelled to rally the troops around him and Ottavia to let them know we are still here and we support them.

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