Bourdain’s Got a Bone in the Throat: the Movie

By Karen

Not all fans may know that Anthony Bourdain was a chef/moonlighting novelist before he hit bestsellerdom with his nonfiction restaurant exposé, Kitchen Confidential, in 2000.

Bourdain published his first crime novel, Bone in the Throat, in 1995, followed in 1997 by another one, Gone Bamboo.

Over the past few years, Bourdain’s career hit critical mass and now he’s on a roll, with one success after another. I knew he’d arrived when his birthday appeared last year in the “Born This Day” list of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Anyway, actor Ed Westwick plays Will Reeves (called Tommy Pagana in the book), an aspiring chef who works under this guy, whom I don’t believe ever gets named…

The chef, the tallest one, was pale and thin, with long brown hair that curled out from under his chef’s hat. He held a copy of Larousse Gastronomique and was turning the pages furiously. He wore the hat high on his forehead and pulled straight back like a skullcap. A cigarette dangled from his mouth.

In chapter 18, we get more description of this chef…

His face in the bathroom mirror was pale and bloodless. Tiny pupils floated around in watery, bloodshot eyes. His thick brown hair was too long, sticking up at odd angles, and his sideburns were uneven…. One tooth was missing on the right side, but you couldn’t see it; there was one crumbling molar on the left, also invisible to the casual observer, and a chipped eyetooth.

The chef moved his eyes down over his naked, bony chest: protruding ribs, the stomach that was showing the beginnings of a paunch. He examined his arms. There were no tracks to speak of, only a small, yellowish bruise in the crook of his left arm.

Remind you of anyone we know?

Well, I’m sure the paunch must be gone since he took up MMA and lost 30 lbs., and his arms are now covered with tattoos.

The story for the movie was transported from Manhattan to London’s East End for some reason, and premiered March 14 at a film festival at the Alamo Ritz in Austin, Texas. Here’s the trailer…

The Austin Chronicle gave it a positive review.

Variety, not so glowing.

The movie’s official website includes some recipes, although food isn’t a central character.

I doubt this flick will ever make it to a Richmond screen, but that gives me time to reread the book before I get my hands on it.

Having read both novels years ago, I remember little about the plots. But I do recall laughing out loud at Bourdain’s sharp dialogue and vivid, witty descriptions of the seedy gangster underworld his imagination dwelled in.

Diving back into his fiction is one task on my To-Do list that I eagerly look forward to doing.

9 Responses to Bourdain’s Got a Bone in the Throat: the Movie

  1. Irene says:

    I have always liked Bourdain’s sense of humor, since it was similar to mine, sharing that rough New York cynical attitude. I grew up across the river from Manhattan and spent many a weekend in Greenwich Village. The only issue that I have is his meat eating-animal killing behavior. He also criticizes vegetarians and vegan, which I have an issue with. Yes, I am a vegan and a cat lover.

  2. Zappa's Mom says:

    He’s lost 30 lbs? How?

  3. Zappa's Mom says:

    I think Ed Westwick looks kinda hot….sigh..

  4. catsworking says:

    Irene, if you did like his meat-eating before, I don’t think it’s going to get any better. He’s probably following his wife’s all-protein diet as much as he can, now that he’s gotten into MMA like she and Ariane have. Ottavia can devour a couple of big steaks at one meal.

    ZM, he says he lost 30 lbs. mainly from the workout he’s been getting at the MMA studio and, I believe, the high-protein diet. I just saw some recent pictures of him (can’t remember where he was, but he was giving a speech) and his face is definitely thinner.

    If it were us, we’d be covered with wrinkles, but he’s just looking more distinguished.

    He was always pretty svelte, except for the occasional gut, but he must be turning into a hard body with the strenuous working out he’s doing. Look how it transformed Ottavia from a girly-girl in heels into a crafty, fat-free killer. 😉

    I think it’s a good development, but I worry that Tony will really hurt himself.

  5. I’m a huge Bourdain fan but this film would never have been greenlit if he didn’t have his huge platform.

  6. catsworking says:

    Welcome, Layla! Totally agree. The book didn’t make a splash back in the day, and the movie seems to be a relatively modest indie production. I haven’t seen a word about it opening anywhere beyond that film festival in Texas where it debuted. But as I said either in this post or earlier, after all his years of paying his dues, Bourdain has finally hit critical mass and everything he touches now seems to meet with success.

    Cats Working was the first blog to extensively cover Bourdain when he was a relatively obscure cable travel show host. The archives contains a full accounting of his earlier years in show biz and the times our paths have actually crossed. I’m very happy to see him making it big. My dream is to see him finally win an Emmy for his writing. He’s been nominated several times, but never gets the trophy.

  7. MorganLF says:

    Don’t think I read Bone in the Throat, but I did read Gone Bamboo I think. It was the one where the protagonist is a hit man living on St. Martin and it was clearly based on him and his then wife Nancy as the inspiration for the main characters. I wasn’t crazy about it. I did love Kitchen Confidential and all the other biographical books.

    Yeah we knew him when. He’s looking great these days. He did on The Taste his prime time show. He was always a dare devil and this whole MMA training thing makes me jealous that a cat in my age group can put that kind of training into his schedule.

    Just hope he remembers his OGF’s original gangsta fans. Somehow I think he does. He was never an affected cat.

  8. Sara says:

    Any thoughts on the state of Bourdain’s marriage? Neither of them wears their wedding rings these days (could be because of BJJ), they rarely mention each other on social media (last year on their anniversary there were declarations of love etc., this year nothing), and he is doing a summer tour, during what is usually sacred family time.

  9. catsworking says:

    Welcome, Sara! I’ve fallen off the radar with social media myself and don’t read Twitter like I used to. I don’t think either of the Bourdains are the tweeters they once were either. Tony has also gone to Facebook (which I find baffling to use, so I almost never look there).

    Having kept extremely loose tabs on the situation and listening to a few interviews he’s done recently, my sense is that their marriage is fine. He didn’t wear his ring all through the last season of “The Taste.” I’m guessing it’s an MMA thing not to wear something that could be used to twist your finger off.

    The dates of his upcoming tour actually dovetail perfectly with his usual family vacation in the Hamptons in August. He’s on the road through July and finishes up on July 30. I’m betting it’s a cool month’s work to ensure funding for all of Ariane’s future college aspirations and maybe then some.

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