Anthony Bourdain to Host Cooking Game Show

By Karen

This just in – In addition to his new 2013 show on CNN, Anthony Bourdain is pairing with Nigella Lawson for an as-yet-unnamed “cooking reality show” on ABC.

A few Cats Working readers began discussing it under my previous Bourdain post, so let’s bring it to the fore and see what the rest of you think.

I’m happy for Bourdain to have this opportunity to monetize his culinary experience. But much of the initial reaction on the Web among fans seems to be that he’s selling out. I’ll have to see the show to have an opinion, but I do agree he’s walking a fine line.

Foodies, try to spin it as you will but, basically, Tony’s going to be a game show host. But instead of having Nigella flip letters, they’ll be playing with food.

And let me state that there’s no such thing as a “cooking reality show.” The participants cook in some tricked-out kitchen. They’re usually using a bizarre set of ingredients someone else selected to prepare a dish 99.9% of home cooks wouldn’t touch.

There’s nothing real about any of it.

In the video promo, Bourdain implies the cheftestants will receive “help” preparing for the challenges. This is obviously where all his celebrity chef BFFs come in, scoring more easy TV gigs like some of them did in scenes Tony wrote for HBO’s Treme.

But does that mean viewers will actually learn something about cooking, or will it be like Top Chef, where the footage get so butchered in post-production, you rarely see a recipe a normal person could actually reproduce?

I picked up a few more tidbits about the show from the open call registration info at ABC:

  • The show will be in production for 4 weeks in August or September 2012 (subject to change)
  • It will be shot in various locations
  • All the contestants will be legal U.S. residents

The requirements for the casting call already amount to bullshit if they’re serious about judging cooks based on their cooking…

You MUST bring one prepared dish to be served to the food judges. You will be given a few minutes to plate your dish at the given casting location, but there will not be a kitchen in which to cook or warm the dish, so come prepared!…It is your responsibility to preserve your food to avoid spoilage. We advise transporting your dish in a portable cooler to keep it fresh…You must bring your own utensils including the plate, knives, forks, spoons, etc….You may not bring any equipment (heating or cooling) that needs an outlet. You may bring battery-operated food prep equipment that can heat/cool food.

I’m picturing heaps of potato salad and JELL-O molds, but I’m kind of hoping some idiot brings in sushi and lightly poisons them all.

They’re recruiting cheftestants in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago (Cats Working reader Adele (the human), could this be your chance to showcase your talents?), but no dates have been set yet.

Since they’re recruiting anyone with “the passion and talent for cooking, whether you are a restaurateur, executive chef, sous chef, line cook, culinary student or home cook,” the innate unfairness seems already written on the wall. Will they make any attempt to level the playing field, or use it as a premise for Tony to become the Simon Cowell of cuisine?

And what will a network gig, with its extreme sensitivity to foul language, do to Bourdain’s wit? Will he feel tongue-tied without profanity? Stifled?

Since Travel Channel will probably continue to churn old episodes of No Reservations and The Layover ad nauseum long after he’s gone, with additional shows on CNN and ABC, will channel-surfing viewers get sick of saying, “Oh, hell, not THAT guy again!”

And now that he’s sunk to doing a game show, could a season on Dancing with the Stars be next in the cards for Bourdain?

28 Responses to Anthony Bourdain to Host Cooking Game Show

  1. adele says:

    Gosh Karen, I can’t imagine that i could bring anything exotic enough to impress the judges, not to say I have no battery operated heating or cooling equipment. I’m thinking my pineapple upside down cake is waaaay too pedestrian.

  2. catsworking says:

    Adele, after all you’ve told us about your refined cooking techniques and your affinity for so much of what Bourdain likes, surely you’ve got something up your sleeve to wow them with.

    There was a list on the site of all the prohibited stuff, and it looks as if they think people will be camping out on the doorstep days in advance of auditions. That may be true. They also say they won’t consider the temperature of the food in judging. So I guess they’ll overlook the congealed grease on mom’s pot roast.

    But forcing the candidates to supply the judges with PLATES and EATING UTENSILS? How CHEAP and LAZY can they get?

    If they’re going to limit all the wannabes to picnic food or play Russian roulette with food poisoning, how the hell do they think they’re going to pick the best contestants? Like all the other cooking competitions that exploit “regular” cooks for entertainment, I think this one is already smelling bad.

    I will be very surprised if it turns out to be something Bourdain ends up being proud of.

  3. Bacardi1 says:

    “And now that he’s sunk to doing a game show, could a season on Dancing with the Stars be next in the cards for Bourdain?”

    Not with the way he seriously & severely has said time & time again how he does NOT dance (or sing) – lol!

  4. CfromFL says:

    Don’t y’all get it? Anthony Bourdain was sort of a “late bloomer”. Although a great writer and maybe chef (I am not sure about this one) he didn’t really start making a decent living until he was almost 50. Now he has a family and needs to secure the future for his child etc. He is “cashing in” on his 5 minutes of fame and in his case it is backed up by genuine talent. Why shouldn’t he make the big buckos while he can? He sure has enough irons in the fire these days and I wish him all the best. Not all his ventures are going to appeal to all of his fans but it looks like he is throwing things up in the air to see what will stick. At least we don’t have to listen to him moan and groan about selling his record collection on the street corner.

  5. catsworking says:

    CfromFL, I assure you that we all “get it” here. There’s almost no aspect of his early life that I and my readers haven’t already written about, if you delve into the archives. I said I’m pleased that he’s found another opportunity to monetize his culinary experience. I wasn’t being sarcastic.

    He’s going to be 56 in June, he’s got a young daughter who will be going to college when he’s approx. 69, so he’s trying to feather his nest as best he can, while he can. Nobody blames him for that. And I, for one, am glad to see him cut the cord with Travel Channel because their programming, for the most part, sucks. He’s like a diamond among turds there.

    I don’t know if he still checks in with Cats Working, but in case he does, I just like to provide my gut feelings as a long-time TV fan and reader of ALL of his books (even the out-of-print one(s)).

    Frankly, I’m stunned to see him do a game show. But it will be interesting to watch his machinations to make it somehow different from every other cooking competition out there.

    I still think his future lies in his writing. He hit the jackpot with Kitchen Confidential, he’s built an even bigger, more solid platform since then, and I know he has the chops to do it again, either with fiction or travel writing.

  6. catsworking says:

    Bacardi, he’s already said he got an invitation to do DWTS a few years ago. I can’t see him embracing the sexy Latin dances like rumba, samba, and cha-cha, or even jive because he’s too self-conscious. But I’d love to see him foxtrot, waltz, quickstep, and tango. And it’s never going to happen. 😉

  7. MorganLF says:

    Well I do believe now is my time to breakout my Sunday
    Gravy…wait a minute no stove? Guess I’ll rethink that.

    We always knew he’d go mainstream given the opportunity he said as much in Medium Raw when he said he’d shill for diarrhea meds if he had to, he’s got a kid to put through college.

    He has spoken highly of Nigella and I like her so I’ll watch this.

    PS: The NYC Food & Wine Pre Sale just went out – if you remember last year Bourdain gave a talk and closed the event. It was a huge venue with thousands of people and tons of food & wine the cost was about $225 a ticket. This year its a smaller venue, a dinner and he gets roasted by comics & chefs and it includes a fabulous dinner catered by renowned Chef Michael White- the tab a mere $400 a head!!!

  8. Terry says:

    CfromFL: The issue with a lot of people (especially early fans) may be that Tony spent so much time declaring he would never be a sell-out and slamming those he considered sell-outs that he seems like a complete phony at this point. He marketed himself as an “outlaw” type as compared to hucksters like Bobby Flay and Emeril. Having a daughter isn’t really a good excuse in my book. He really seems to have no core to his personality, though, so maybe he can’t help himself. I just wish he would stop critizing other chefs for what he ends up doing himself. As for his show, I think maybe the audience market has peaked for cooking shows – I know I am tired of them. And CNN? A network really on the way down, IMO.

  9. catsworking says:

    Welcome, Terry. I agree with you that Bourdain is going to be getting served a lot of crow for this game show gig. And you’re right. He’s lost the right to snipe at those who “sell out” because his would seem to be a career decision based on payday. There’s no way he can possibly think he’s got something extraordinarily new to offer to the cooking competition format, coming into it after it’s been done to death.

    Unfortunately, he didn’t have a crystal ball when Kitchen Confidential hit big and changed his “career” trajectory (which was down, down, down), and he’s sort of been going with the flow ever since. He doesn’t have handlers calling the shots to make sure his fame has the proper arc. He just does whatever feels right at the time, even if it makes no sense after what he did yesterday.

    I can’t speak as to the “core of his personality.” I suspect he doesn’t know what it really consists of. Do any of us? His life has turned out vastly different in the past 10 years than he could have ever imagined, from the fame to the second marriage, to fatherhood.

    I may end up hating the game show, and I don’t think he’ll be the savior of CNN. But what first attracted me to him was his wit, incisiveness, and way with words, and he still has all of that, so I’m willing to suspend disbelief and see where these new endeavors take him.

  10. catsworking says:

    Morgan, not to worry if your Sunday gravy is cold and congealed. They say temperature won’t be considered in judging.

    Sorry to hear the NYC Food & Wine fest has morphed into an extravaganza for foodies in the 1%. Ticket prices for the DC thing we’ve attended twice seem to be heading in the same direction.

  11. CfromFL says:

    Terry, yeah he “markets himself” because that’s what TV is all about. I always thought the guy was a street-smart intellectual and those guys always have appeal–Kerouac, Hunter Thompson, Lenny Bruce, and maybe Hemingway. Bourdain happens to be a chef but he always was a writer. He writes what he knows about. What I find more interesting is that he is a “reader” and I have picked up a lot of things he finds interesting and enjoy them myself online. The only cooking-related show worth watching these days is the David Rocco Amalfi Coast program on Cooking channel. I agree, No Reservations is a gem among the drek on the TC but Bourdain might be interesting when he appears in some other formats. He isn’t selling out–he is selling himself and don’t we all do that in our daily work life–we trade our time and intellect for cash. I am retired and live in the woods of north Florida so thank God I don’t have to sell nothin’ for nothin’ and I sure don’t worry about a fan base but I am not sure Tony does either. Even if he does, at this point in time I think he knows he has it covered.

  12. Terry says:

    CfromFL, I get what you’re saying about having to sell yourself on tv because that’s what’s called for and that’s even true for writers in today’s market – although I don’t think Lenny Bruce or Kerouac were sell-outs – Hemingway, maybe. But my point was that he has always lambasted, made fun of ,etc, other people whom he accused of selling out and even claimed he would never do that – that’s the problem a lot of people might have with him…don’t criticize other people for what you are doing yourself. I always suspected he was claiming to be “pure” when he was just waiting for an oppotunity to cash in, but that’s just me.

  13. Zappa's Mom says:

    I was gonna weigh in but Terry said it all for me. always found him a bit of a hypocrite,but at least a good looking sexy one.I might watch the show if there is nothing else on,mainly because I am also sick of cooking/competition shows.Have you noticed how much weight Nigella has lost? She says it was a shake and supplement regime,i forget the (British product) name

  14. MorganLF says:

    Terry I have to disagree. I’m aligned with C fromFL he’s got it covered.

    I really don’t know what you are referencing when you say “don’t criticize other people for you are doing yourself”. Have you not read Medium Raw? Let me quote from the last line of Chapter 1 of my personally autographed copy entitled “Selling Out”:

    “But when my daughter came along, and I continued to say no, I knew I wasn’t saving my cherry for principle. I’d just been waiting to lose it to the right guy.” I guess he found the right guy.

    Nothing I admire about him is diminished by his evolution. He is still grounded and reasonably pragmatic. The stuff he said in “Kitchen Confidential” and early interviews was over ten years ago. In fact
    when I saw him at the book signing, I had the opportunity to meet up with him in private for a bit. He was chilling in a back room of the bookstore chatting with the staff, no handlers. Considering that the line to see him was wound around the block three times, I’d say that’s fairly unpretentious.

    If I’d sold millions of books, traveled the world with my own TV show and included Eric Ripert among my close compadres, I might be a bit of a douche.

    I’ve met him and his wife a few times and they are always friendly and acknowledge me. In fact I saw him 2 months ago at a sporting event his wife was competing in, and he was wearing a paper access wrist band like everyone else, no special treatment required.

    Bourdain remains a smart, well-read, wickedly funny smart-ass who can”throw shade” like no one else and I hope he continues to do so.

    There is nothing in any of his new endeavors that smells like sell out to me. I’m fairly intuitive, and as many long-time readers can attest, I call bullshit when I see it. I’m glad he’s going mainstream and grabbing some cash, frankly, I’d think him a dolt for not doing so. He earned it and I wish him well.

  15. catsworking says:

    Morgan, you’re right. It was either languish on cable on a channel that’s clearly not evolving in his direction, or take a big leap.

    Colicchio and Padmna have left such a bad taste in my mouth for the cooking show competition format, I do cringe to think that Tony’s doing one. If he can manage to pull that off without turning into a big douche, it will be a miracle. But even on a bad day, I think he’ll raise the bar for all the nitpicking, condescending snobs hosting such shows now.

    ZM, I’ve never watched Nigella, so I can’t compare her size. If she lost weight drinking shakes, she should be blowing up again any day now when she puts real food in her mouth. Just ask Oprah.

    Did anybody catch Bourdain on Jimmy Fallon last night? What a jerk Fallon is. And he didn’t have the latest news about ABC. At one point, it seemed on the tip of Tony’s tongue to mention it, but he stopped himself.

    To-do reminder: Pre-order Get Jiro!. I think they said it goes on sale July 3, but it will be available in comic book stores about a week earlier, I believe.

  16. Bacardi1 says:

    Nigella had to go on a liquid diet?? I admit that since I don’t care for the woman or her cooking “skills”, I haven’t watched any of her shows in a couple of years, but as a “lifestyle consultant”, she’s always been built like a stick. And what reputable person (medical or not) condones or recommends these liquid (& frequently fad) diets unless the person is morbidly obese (which I’m SURE she wasn’t) & is under constant medical supervision. Lord – I dislike her even more already.

    Sorry I missed Bourdain on Fallon, but since I can’t stand Fallon at all, that’s not surprising. Poor Tony – Fallon is such a moron it shocks me everytime I see an ad for his show that he even HAS a show. And if I continue to see those stupid Capitol One commercials he’s shticked himself too with that dumbass baby, I see a broken television in my future.

    Too nice a Sat. nite to be sounding so angry – lol!! I really don’t take any of this stuff as seriously as it sounds.

  17. MorganLF says:

    Let’s face it, we’re fans and have been for years, we will watch. I have to admit I have missed a few episodes this season because my other fascination for 30 years, Howard Stern, is now a judge on Americas Got Talent. Even though Howard has been a voice in my head all these years of commuting, I still think Tony is far more grounded. Howard talks like us but lives the life of a very privileged wealthy man.

    If the Bourdains buy a castle in the Hamptons I may revise my opinion. Just as an aside, I wonder why Tony has never been on Howard’s show, that would be history.

    The great thing about Bourdain is he recognizes his fans come in every stripe, he’s a rock star to cooks, chefs, foodies, college kids, and even the occasional Jersey Tomato.

    Nigella, is someone you might like – she’s fierce and very Brit. Gorgeous too, but when last I saw her a bit chunky ZM, I hadn’t realized she lost the weight, but how can you make a living centered around food and subsist on shakes?

    Karen, I’ll wait for your review of Get Jiro, before I buy it, it’s not my millieau….but I’m up for anything entertaining. I missed Fallon and John Stewart (h deliberately inserted Jon is just DOUCHEY). Maybe it’s time for a DVR, but who has that kind of time?

  18. catsworking says:

    Bacardi, I taped Fallon so I could catch Bourdain, and had to watch a big chunk to get to the interview. What a no-talent idiot Fallon is — with bad writers to boot. His monologue was totally not funny. He did a skit with Ben Stiller about Stiller using mannequin arms as stand-ins that seemed to go on about 20 minutes too long. And the show opened with an endless scene of Fallon singing some crap. Fallon seems so full of himself, it’s a wonder he bothers with guests.

    But Bourdain’s bit was the usual snooze with softball questions. The point seemed solely to hawk the graphic novel.

    Morgan, it’s not my thing, either, but if I don’t get it, my complete set of Bourdain literature will be missing a volume, and that would be unthinkable.

  19. Bacardi1 says:

    Then I’m doubly glad I missed it. I can barely get thru those stupid Fallon Capitol One commercials without gagging.

  20. Parry says:

    My my, some of you are very invested in hanging on for dear life to your rose colored glasses. Morgan,it’s good that you’ve had nice experiences with Tony B. but I know people who paid a lot of $$ to see him and felt he was just phoning it it, so your experience isn’t the last word on this. As far as being a hypocrite, I think he’s shown himself to be one – remember all the stuff about Alice Waters being elitist? Attacks from a guy who writes about secret feasts with illegal little birds (ortalans??), brags about being among the last at El Bulli and gloats about getting into the VIP room at the Spotted Pig…Plus he has made very acidic comments about other chefs cashing in…
    Re the daughter thing. doesn’t he make like $25K per episode of NR and $50K + for personal appearances plus book royalties – they’re still selling Kitchen Confidential at Barnes & Noble – so he’s making way more $ than most people will ever see in a lifetime….why use your daughter as an excuse for cashing in? And how about writing a decent book again, like KC? That’s great way to make $ and keep your fans happy.

  21. catsworking says:

    Welcome, Parry. Have to say I agree with you on the whole “foodie elitist” angle. Since Bourdain hit the big time (and was befriended by Eric Ripert), he moves in much higher culinary circles than he ever did as a chef. I’m a person who eats to live, rather than one who lives to eat, like Bourdain and pals, so El Bulli, ortolan, the world’s best restaurants, and all the other stuff with snob appeal leave me pretty cold.

    The only book of his I’m aware of as out of print right now is Typhoid Mary. So, yes, there’s some income from book sales, but if you’re familiar with author royalty splits, I wouldn’t bet they’re a significant slice of his income, since the books have been out there for years. Now Get Jiro! may well give him a nice royalty infusion.

    I’ve seen him once in a personal appearance (in Durham, NC) and he was very good, although he really didn’t cover any new ground for me. But I’m sure he has off nights, or the reception he receives throws him off. (Kathy Griffin came to Richmond a few years ago and ended her act about 10 minutes early without warning. The acoustics in the theater are atrocious, and I feel sure she wasn’t hearing the love and thought she was bombing.) It happens.

    The fame comes with certain lifestyle requirements. After having nothing for many years, he’s been playing catch-up. It takes a lot to live in NYC, let alone maintain the jet-set lifestyle he’s become accustomed to. And I’m sure his daughter will be attending the best schools money can buy. Not to mention saving for retirement, which he’s probably never done in his life.

  22. Bacardi1 says:

    After reading all of the comments on this blog’s Bourdain episodes, one thing I must say is that I don’t take any of this as seriously as others seem to. Although I will admit to THOROUGHLY enjoying his on-stage performance with Eric Ripert last year at the Paramount in Charlottesville, VA. Lots of fun.

    I mean really – in the grand scheme of things, unless you’re in Tony’s last will & testament, who really gives a rat’s patootie how much money he makes or how he makes it? It’s somewhat disappointing re: him going to the mainstream “reality tv” genre, but what the heck. Does him doing that really affect your life? Lol!! I don’t like it, but it doesn’t affect my life.

    I’ll just continue to enjoy my dvd collection of “No Reservations”, & perhaps any actual worth-reading books he decides to write (I’m not into comic books), & will leave it at that.

  23. Jack R says:

    Anthony is yet another sold out, living in a myopic world of ease starlet. He has little compassion for those who lead harder lives than his lavish lifestyle, though he attempts to portray himself as someone who has been through hard times. It was disgraceful how he mocked the Russian man who he claimed was his friend, in his Romania episode. The poor Russian was drunk on his birthday because he was feeling so much pressure from American crews to please the King Anthony. Anthony acted like he was so put out by the Romainan people, yet here we have people all over the world dying of hunger and Anthony is complaining about his food and drink. It was also disgusting to see him salivate over a killed pig in the Romaina episode. Me thinks Anthony is a big pussy who needs a serious reality check on how to be grateful for what he has. It must be so easy for American crews to waltz into another country, especially a country that is poor, like Romania, and think that he can use all the people there for his big shot show, and if they don’t live up to his standards, well then, they are mocked.

  24. catsworking says:

    Welcome, Jack. I assume you are talking about Bourdain’s friend Zamir, who accompanied him to Romania. Yes, there was some mockery there, but Zamir has had the last laugh on Bourdain more than once, and yet in a recent episode of No Reservations (can’t remember the location, but it was U.S. — somebody help me out), Bourdain gave Zamir so many scenes, it was almost as if they were shooting a pilot to help Zamir to launch his own show. I thought it was a very generous gesture.

    It’s a fact that Bourdain DID have hard times, which were largely self-inflicted by his drug use. And now that he’s in a successful career, what’s he supposed to do? Continue to let his bills pile up?

    He hasn’t bought a mansion yet, but still lives in an apartment that doesn’t look very large or lavish inside by any standard.

    I think all the TV hosts who make a living eating walk a fine line on disrespecting the countries they visit, but I believe Bourdain is very sensitive to that and tries to be gracious, although he doesn’t always succeed if he feels he’s being disrespected, as he did in Romania by the authorities.

    Then again, you could say the same about almost all Americans. We diss other cultures every day simply by pigging out on huge portions of food we don’t need while so many millions around the world are starving. It’s a no-win.

  25. Bacardi1 says:

    You obviously know EXTREMELY little about Anthony Bourdain, his good friend Zamir, OR the show.

    How sad to be so angry about something you know so very little about.

  26. Bacardi1 says:

    Oh – The above comment was directed towards Jack – not you Catsworking.

  27. catsworking says:

    Bacardi, no problem. I knew that. We were writing our responses to Jack at the same time.

  28. Chinagirl says:

    I have to agree with Terry. Well said. I get tired of hearing about AB being a chef!! When, where??? He said his wife never lets him cook. He needs to realize that there are many cooks/chefs who work hard every day and not to belittle the profession, even though he says he doesn’t. Karen you are right both he and his wife have become skilled self- promoters. IMO

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: