Bourdain Gets a “Top Chef” Smack-Down

By Karen

Tonight, Travel Channel airs the last new episode of No Reservations Season 6, a Christmas special. Here’s the promo, and I hope this isn’t considered one of the highlights:

Here’s another video clip of them talking about Santa.

But the blogosphere has been buzzing over Bourdain’s dust-up with Fabio Viviani during week 1 of Top Chef: All-Stars, which served to cement Tony’s reputation as the Simon Cowell of the food world.

Rock ‘N Roll Ghost snagged a lengthy interview about the season with Colicchio and Bourdain, and included some excellent photos.

Eric Ripert offered some advice to Tony. Ripert is critiquing each episode online, and I think I may be paying more attention to him than anything I hear from the judges’ table.

I’ve said that Carla and Fabio are my two favorite cheftestants this season, but that was before I realized Dale “Butterscotch Scallops” and Season 7’s Tiffany are also back, so add them to my list.

The Charlotte Observer quoted Bourdain as saying, “I find Fabio very lovable,” and the chef he’d most like to hang out with.

But during the elimination challenge, Tony said Fabio’s pasta looked like “an inside-out animal,” and the judges went on and on about his presentation, which involved a piece of paper.

They sounded like kindergartners, screaming, “Eeeww, what’s that? Yuk!” because they’d never SEEN pasta with brown sauce before, and WHO puts paper on the plate??!!

They’d have been more comfortable with ketchup on a bed of putrid green pea purée, perhaps?

Fabio was incensed by Bourdain’s repetition of the “inside-out” remark and intimated in front of all the judges that he’d love to punch Tony in the nose for mocking his food.

In a blog post at Bravo, Bourdain explained what was really going on. He also expressed remorse over his comment and admiration for Fabio for calling him out on it.

According to Tony, he and Tom Colicchio drink gin and tonic steadily off camera during the judging, and there’s wine on the table.

I’d guess their creeping inebriation isn’t lost on the chefs, who are usually compelled to work with ridiculous ingredients and time constraints to produce masterpieces, only to have them dissed on national TV by a pair of drunks. It’s not like the judges’ reputations and culinary careers are the ones in jeopardy here.

Elia Aboumrad, the first chef sent home, did a very frank interview with TV Guide. She tasted Fabio’s dish, said it wasn’t bad, and that pasta is routinely served on parchment in parts of Italy.

Who knows who’s right? Top Chef now hails Tony as the world’s foremost authority on pasta because he’s married to an Italian.

What gripes me about Top Chef is that I enjoy watching professionals cook when there’s no silly deadline imposed just to foster mistakes and drama. I don’t like watching people eat. And I don’t give a rat’s ass about their opinion of the food if they’re hammered or they’re vacuous sexpots like Padma, who’d feign a gastronomic orgasm for a buck.

Now, on other fronts…

On Nomember 11, Tony shared some advice about writing and his own habits with The Keystone of Kutztown University of Pennsylvania after his appearance there. Basically, he says to just do it.

Village Voice reports that Ruth Bourdain will be contributing a bi-weekly culinary etiquette column for CHOW.

The Bourdains spent the past week in Vienna filming a new episode of No Reservations, and Tony wrote a rare between-season blog post, where he talks about eating Stouffer’s macaroni and cheese with his room card.

On-the-Road Dining Tip: I once had penne pasta delivered to my hotel in Virginia Beach and it came with no utensils. After asking myself, “What would Anthony Bourdain do?” I used two Pentel R.S.V.P ballpoints as chopsticks.

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4 Responses to Bourdain Gets a “Top Chef” Smack-Down

  1. adele says:

    Based on No Reservations previous holiday special with the Queens of the Stone Age, I had low expectations for last night’s, but it was pretty great. Ruhlman is a perfect foil for Tony,and the zingers were really flying. I particularly liked Tony saying when that beef cheek was being butchered, something about it reminding him of Heidi Montag. And when he and Ruhlman ended up in the Chinese restaurant, Tony said that their cooking friends had dropped them like radioactive lepers.

    Some of the beef looked really good — more so than Tony’s hair. Tony, you’ve got a beautiful head of hair; gel helps nothing.

  2. catsworking says:

    Adele, thank you for the review. I haven’t seen the special yet. I hope it taped so I can watch it tonight.

    Did you happen to catch Padma “cooking” on the Today Show this morning? She sauteed chopped green and red bell peppers in olive oil with a little minced garlic to pour on pre-boiled spaghetti.

    And I think she boiled some red and blue berries with sugar to make a juice she spooned over ice cream. They gave her about 10 seconds to do that.

    Good old Today. They’re as bad as Top Chef with the ridiculous time constraints. “We want you to come on and whip up a few dishes in 90 seconds, if our hosts can shut up that long.”

    Every professional chef should tell them to shove it.

  3. adele says:

    I listen to NPR in the morning; don’t ever turn on the TV unless there’s some huge breaking news thing.

    No chef is going to tell Today to shove it; they want the exposure too much. Mario Batali has been tweeting about all the fun he had cooking on Good Morning America. To quote Monsieur Bourdain in today’s Top Chef blog, who in turn is quoting a character in The Wire, “It’s all part of the game, yo.”

  4. catsworking says:

    Yeah, Adele, I know you’re right. Just wishful thinking on my part.

    But after watching Padma in action a few times with her rudimentary kitchen skills, I now realize that if I’d been able to throw myself in celebrities’ paths and been in the right place at the right time, I, too, could be cooking on TV today. My show would be called “Cats Cooking.” 😉

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