Bourdain’s on the Road – Again

By Karen

We’re fresh out of new episodes of No Reservations, but this week Anthony Bourdain is making personal appearances in Houston (tonight), Toronto (9/22), Fredericksburg VA (9/23), and Springfield CT (9/24).

The Houston Chronicle got an advance interview. Among other things, here’s what Tony had to say about food writers…

“I can hardly imagine that this brave new world of bloggers can be worse than the agenda-driven, overprivileged, entitled class of dottering old farts who currently occupy the top tier of food journalism. It’s a pretty appalling bunch of bent, angry people who despise their subjects and hate their jobs and have been going through the motions for a long time.”

NowToronto published a 2-part interview with Bourdain, where he describes himself as an “’ex-cook who tells stories.’ Essayist maybe?” In Part 2, he says he doesn’t hate Paula Deen, and describes his upcoming graphic novel, Get Gyro (spelling? Ottavia spelled it Get Jiro on Twitter) as “Yojimbo meets Big Night and Babette’s Feast, an ultra-violent slaughter-fest over culinary arcana.”

Earlier, he told the Omaha World-Herald it’s “a gourmet slaughterfest, sort of like Fistful of Dollars meets Eat Drink Man Woman.”

Whichever it is, it sounds like an orgy of food, blood, and guts that may make his animated Alternate Universe seem tame.

When Bourdain was recently in London pushing Medium Raw, he told Metro that he doesn’t see food writing as part of his future path. He said he’s “kind of pushing himself” out of it because he’s becoming jaded, and has shelved plans to move to Vietnam because of No Res.

Hey, you read it here first. I’ve been saying that all along.

He also said something I take issue with. That is…

“I don’t think my writing has evolved. I mean I haven’t been working at it.”

By virtue of his output since Kitchen Confidential, he has unconsciously been honing how he expresses himself, even if he thinks he writes like he talks.

Tony, here’s the test: If you can read anything you wrote at least 6 months ago and find anything you’d like to revise, your writing is evolving.

On September 13, Bourdain appeared at the 92nd Street Y in NYC with David Chang and Eater.com provides a thorough account of what sounds like a strange and awkward night. Chang is weird. Tony mentioned that Cuba, Haiti, the Congo, and Kurdistan are on his short list for NR Season 7.

Bourdain did an interview with Submerge before his September 17 Sacramento appearance and said that daughter Ariane and Alice Waters are a lot alike because Ariane eats only organic food and likes Paris.

CTnow got a really good interview with Tony before his September 24 Springfield appearance where he mentions that Ariane behaves herself in restaurants.

For some reason, I want to give Ottavia most of the credit for making sure Ariane’s never a whiny, fidgety brat in public, like the ones we’ve all had the misfortune of sharing meals or airplanes with.

On a side note…

Chow.com selected the still-unidentified Ruth Bourdain as one of the Chow 13 in their 2nd annual recognition of the food world’s movers and shakers. They even got an e-mail interview with the elusive, yet always hilarious, tweeter.

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8 Responses to Bourdain’s on the Road – Again

  1. adele says:

    Karen, thanks for clearing up the “Get Jiro” thing; I was completely confused by Ottavia’s tweet; I must have missed a prior tweet, because I didn’t even get that she was talking about the new graphic novel.

    Read the Eater.com article about the Bourdain/Chang show. If I ever get to NYC, I’m going to try to eat at one of Chang’s restaurants, if only because despite reading the Medium Raw chapter on him and several articles, I still don’t understand the concept of his cooking. It did sound like an awkward evening. And I know Tony says it safe, but I can’t help worrying about his going to the Congo, although I’ll look forward to the show very much.

  2. catsworking says:

    Hi, Adele, I think Ottavia’s tweet about the illustrations may have been the only time she’s mentioned the graphic novel. And because she saw them, I’m thinking her spelling of “Jiro” is correct, and the press is printing “Gyro” because they think that’s what Bourdain is saying. But I guess we’ll have to see it in print to know for sure.

    David Chang just seems to be a moody, introverted, driven kind of guy who would probably embarrass himself if he made solo appearances and had to entertain an audience. That 92Y event sounded like he was just having a particularly bad night, so Tony tried to cover for him by playing the court jester.

    I’m having mixed feelings about the Congo trip myself. I just hope he’s up-to-date on all his shots!

  3. MorganLF says:

    Just gotta say it, David Chang just sounds like an a-hole. Yeah, yeah brooding genius, Tony likes him, his headaches, his moods, that’s so trite, he bores me.

    Addressing the aspect of Tony’s writing style and its evolution; don’t you think a writer sometimes give birth to a line of prose, a description so captivating, so spot on, it’s like a child they are excessively proud of?

    If that particular bon mot had been used before, like say on some obscure blog years ago, the temptation to use it again in a publication would be just too hard to resist, after all it was theirs to begin with. The writer deliberates, shall I use that again will ANYONE ever remember or make the connection? Then I imagine after a bit of reflection he goes for it, and bob’s your uncle, there it is in his latest book!

    Sorry for the obscure reference here, but there are a few of us who know exactly what I’m talking about…

  4. catsworking says:

    Ah, Morgan, I know EXACTLY what you are talking about, and I think you are absolutely right. Writers do retain favorite bits of material, which sometimes pop out again, even unconsciously, in other places. If you read any particular writer closely and thoroughly enough, you’ll notice it.

    Bourdain’s words in Medium Raw about Chang’s brilliance aside, I’m still not convinced the guy isn’t potentially dangerous. I was watching Mario Batali on the Today Show this morning whip up a simple eggplant parmesian and brigole in record time, perfectly articulate, friendly, and charming. Maybe it’s me, but someone who acts as tortured about cooking as Chang seems like someone who could get suicidally depressed and decide to take out a whole restaurant full of people with him by poisoning their food. Batali and Ripert don’t strike me as poisoners.

  5. Cindy says:

    Great news! On the next season of Top Chef,Tony & Gail Simmons will alternate as judges. And the new season has been confirmed as an all-star match up. All of this will be announced on tonight’s reunion show.
    Eater.com has more details and they are the best source for all things Top Chef.

  6. catsworking says:

    Thank you, Cindy! That’s certainly good news. Sounds like Top Chef just pulled itself back from the brink of extinction, Emmy for “Best Reality Series” notwithstanding. I didn’t watch the Season 7 finale. When Bravo shot itself in the foot by leaking that Angelo would be in next season’s group of also-rans, I knew I wouldn’t even have the thrill of outrage if he won. And I couldn’t care less what any of them cooked.

  7. Jason G. says:

    Karen. Did you go see Bourdain at Mary Washington? I did and I wrote a story about it. Before posting, I checked out this blog and it confirmed my suspicion. Tony has become apathetic toward the food world. Come take a peek and chime in.

  8. catsworking says:

    Hi, Jason! No, I didn’t see Bourdain in Fredericksburg for 2 reasons: 1) I’m driving up there on Tuesday to see a client and didn’t want to do it twice, and 2) I’m seeing him in November in DC.

    Read your blog post (http://www.rvafoodie.com/?p=2433#more-2433). Excellent! And thanks for the mention. Sounds like Bourdain was in typical form. He seems to be unfailingly gracious at these appearances. It’s all part of the package.

    I just want to comment on one point you made. I don’t think he qualifies as “rich.” Obviously, the speaking gigs are feathering his nest, but I’d only go so far as to say that he’s becoming financially comfortable (OK, VERY comfortable). The TV show isn’t making him wealthy; he may earn as much or more in book royalties right now. He lives in one of the world’s most expensive cities and he’s got a family to support. Understandably, he’s trying to grab all the gusto he can while he’s hot, but I don’t think he could retire tomorrow. The two times I’ve met him in person, what struck me was how utterly he lacks the unapproachable “star” aura. He comes across as just another working guy.

    I’ve been saying for a few years that his future lies in fiction or travel writing. You put the situation very well. He’s been out of the kitchen for a decade, and his only association with food and restaurants these days is eating and hanging out with working chefs. Nobody is more aware of that than he is. Fortunately, he has probably gathered such a wealth of material in his travels that he could spend the rest of his life writing about everything BUT food and still not run dry. And that’s exactly what I hope he does when his TV days are over.

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