Bourdain Has Beantown Abuzz

By Karen

Anthony Bourdain was all over South Boston last week, filming No Reservations. As always, local speculation on where he was eating was lively.

The Producers Guild nominated No Res for “Outstanding Producer of Non-Fiction Television.” The 22nd annual awards will be bestowed on January 22 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel and they’re no small potatoes. Tom Hanks will be receiving the Norman Lear Achievement Award in Television.

NR’s competition in the category is Deadliest Catch, Intervention, Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List, and Undercover Boss. Best of luck, Zero Point Zero!

But this week, NR is up for 2 Tasty Awards on the 13th, the same night Eric Ripert’s Cayman Cookout  kicks off on Grand Cayman.

Speaking of Ripert, Tony and Eric, together again, March 4 in Boston at Symphony Hall, in a joint appearance billed as Good vs. Evil.

On January 5, Bourdain staged a live walkabout of Boston on Facebook and took some questions. Some numbnutz asked him how to start a blog, and Tony’s response has been ping-ponging around the blogosphere ever since. He said…

“Try being entertaining. Try being didactic. Stop being angry. If you’re an angry person with too many cats and a grudge against the New York Times, maybe you shouldn’t be blogging.”

Frankly, I don’t know what to make of this statement. I don’t know how many cats he considers “too many,” but I suspect it’s 2 [cue: hearty hiss from Cole]. For the record, I adore the New York Times.

Bourdain didn’t judge week 5 of Top Chef All-Stars, but he blogged about it. Another superior chef (Casey) went home while the judges cut Jamie an undue amount of slack for preparing 2 lousy dishes, even though her greasy green beans also brought down Antonia, who futilely tried to help Jamie while whipping up an excellent shrimp toast that could have been one of the best dishes.

The QuickFire challenge was a doozy where Tom Colicchio actually cooked. Then the cheftestants had to beat his time (8:37), notwithstanding that Colicchio knew where everything was and hadn’t had to fight for supplies nor share the kitchen facilities.

Time was also the enemy in the catastrophic elimination challenge, and everyone revealed they haven’t been watching enough No Res. They didn’t know this cardinal rule: Dim sum eaters don’t care if their deep-fried chicken feet are posed en pointe or garnished.

The show has gotten so ridiculous, I can see Padma slinking into the kitchen next week and announcing…

“For this week’s elimination challenge, you will have no ingredients, no utensils, and no time.

“Since Jamie stays whether she produces prison swill or absolutely nothing, my fellow judges and I have decided there’s no need to waste any of your time (or for me to consume calories I’ll have to lose when I ‘powder my nose’), so just relax. We’re airing a full hour of commercials for Buitoni pasta, Swanson Chicken Broth, and the Glad family of products.

“Meanwhile, we will arbitrarily decide at Judges’ Table who earns praise and who earns scorn this week for the dishes we think you might have prepared. And one of you will be going home.”

Naturally, the one who goes home will be anybody but Jamie, because she’s mastered the art of not cooking.


13 Responses to Bourdain Has Beantown Abuzz

  1. david shiel says:

    Take that show with a grain of salt. Stupid! Anthony does nothing for his long term legacy. That woman host/judge is a moron.

  2. catsworking says:

    Welcome, David! I’m not sure which show you are talking about, Top Chef or No Reservations, but I feel pretty sure you’re referring to Padma as the “woman host/judge” who’s a moron.

    As for Bourdain’s long-term legacy, I agree that there probably isn’t a lot there — yet. Kitchen Confidential may become a curious period piece. Medium Raw is so topical, I think few will remember who he’s talking about in not too many years.

    I’m reading a biography called The Secret Lives of Somerset Maugham. Ever heard of him? In the first half of the 20th century, he was THE most famous writer in the world, and he left behind reams of books, plays, and short stories on timeless themes. He died in 1965 in his 90s. Who reads him or talks about him today? Nobody. His material still gets made into movies. Being Julia with Annette Bening the most recent one I remember, based on Maugham’s novel, Theatre. I feel like I’m the only person who knows that. Maugham’s not required reading and I bet most people under 50 have never heard of him.

    My point is, if a giant like Maugham is forgotten, does Bourdain even have a chance? Who knows? I guess it’s up to him.

  3. MorganLF says:

    Hmmm, interesting choice of phraseology for Mr. B. and if I didn’t absolutely know better, I’d wonder at the intent.

    But I DO know better and bob’s your uncle, I think it safe to say the CW crew are exempt from that statement.

  4. catsworking says:

    Morgan, sometimes when this stuff flies out of his mouth, I wonder if he thinks about it later and goes, “Aw, shit!” Just the fact that he even mentioned cats in such a gratuitous context makes me think that maybe, just maybe, Cats Working has penetrated the fringes of consciousness, even though he tries to fight it.

    Cats will do that to you. 😉

  5. adele says:

    But you’re not an “angry blogger,” unless Mr. B. is sensitive about over-gelled hair remarks. I think you should get a clarification from Lupetto, although I’ll bet he speaks more Italian than English.

    Loved your script for future Top Chef Allstars shows. A fine comic turn.

  6. zappa says:

    “Stop being angry”,but snarky man c*@$& works? How is the cat quotient determined? Is it different for,say, a gelatinous Canadian?

    PS Of Human Bondage is one of my all time favorite novels and movies.Film buffs may note the very young Bette Davis in her first film role

    Zappa’s mom

  7. zappa says:

    oops I meant c*@$


  8. Noel McWormald says:

    And more about Somerset Maugham: Big sister Karen suggested Somerset Maugham as the subject of a critical analysis for her sister’s AP English many years ago (she’s over 50) and she LOVED The Razor’s Edge. She even like the little-known 1984 re-make of the film–the green light for which Bill Murray made a pre-condition of making Meatballs II. (True Story!)

  9. catsworking says:

    Thanks, Adele. I don’t think I get angry too often, but I can’t say the same for the cats. Adele (the cat) seems to live in a perpetual state of tail-fluff. She’s working on a post right now and I can hear her claws banging on the keys of my laptop.

    I hope Tony knows we pick on his gel in fun (although it really does look gross when he overdoes it — and have you noticed that Ripert seems to slather on the gel only when he’s with Tony?)

    I don’t know if Lupetto could give us a ruling on the “too many cats” issue. He’s an only cat so he’s never seen the theory tested. And you’re right. He probably meows in Italian.

  10. catsworking says:

    ZM, Bourdain telling people to “stop being angry” is the old pot-kettle thing, isn’t it? Better than anybody, he knows that snark sells, and if the blogosphere were all happiness, all the time, there would be no readers.

    “Every time you kissed me, I woyped moy mouwth!”

    When I read your words about Of Human Bondage, that line popped into my head. In the Maugham bio I’m reading, there’s a bit about where he met Bette Davis (his lover, Gerald Haxton, thought she was extremely homely). She thanked Maugham for writing the book and said playing the part of Mildred really cemented her career.

    I just reread The Moon and Sixpence myself, the one based on Gauguin going to Tahiti to paint. For a long time the French Polynesia episode where Bourdain visits Gauguin’s grave was the only No Res I was missing. Now it’s Madrid (!!@#$@$!).

    I don’t remember exactly when I “discovered” Maugham, but I remember the exact moment it happened in the tiny Boxford (MA) library, prob. when I was a junior or senior in HS. I probably found A Writer’s Notebook and read it first, because that’s a title that would have grabbed me at the time. Then I tried to read everything he’d written and found that most of it wasn’t in print here. But then I visited London in spring 1972 and found MANY Penguin paperbacks of his novels and bought them all. Returning home, when I told Customs in Logan Airport that all I had to declare was books, they didn’t believe me and made me show them. I still have every one of those books.

    In my reading life, I can say that Maugham and Bourdain are the only 2 writers who resonated with me so deeply that I felt compelled to track down and read everything they’d ever written. I still haven’t totally succeeded with Maugham; many of his books are very rare today, and they can be slow going because his writing style is much denser than we’re used to seeing now.

  11. catsworking says:

    Noel, I don’t remember suggesting Maugham to your mom, but it doesn’t surprise me. I don’t just suffer from enthusiastic obsessions, I’m a carrier! 😉

  12. MorganLF says:

    Gelatinous Canadian!! Tee hee!!

    I am currently reading Of Human Bondage and saw both versions of the movie. I also loved both the movie versions of “The Razor’s Edge” especially the 1984 version with Bill Murray well worth a look if you have not seen it. He’s brilliant as was Theresa Russell.

  13. catsworking says:

    Morgan, Of Human Bondage is some heavy stuff. I haven’t seen The Razor’s Edge with Bill Murray. I always meant to. I need to put it on my Netflix list.

    A lot of Maugham’s stuff is already in the public domain and I’ve downloaded some of the more obscure novels onto my Nook, but I think the one I’d like to reread next is Cakes and Ale. It was one of his lighter books, and was supposed to be a good caricature of Thomas Hardy.

    PS: Too bad the “gelatinous Canadian” probably won’t recognize himself, now that he fancies himself quite the stud muffin, bantering with hookers.

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