Got a Bit of Bourdain News to Share

By Karen

Found: His Chef’s Knife – If you’re in Singapore, stop by the display at The English House by Marco Pierre White, which is where you’ll find Anthony Bourdain’s beloved Bob Kramer chef’s knife, that chrome duck press he bought after seeing one in the Paris episode of The Layover, as well as a few pieces of his art collection.

Photo: AntiquesandtheArts.com

I believe Tony originally paid $5,000 for the knife. The English House got it for a cool $231,250 at the 2019 auction of Tony’s belongings. At the time, I don’t think we knew who the knife’s highest bidder was. But now the truth is out there.

The English House is also serving, in Bourdain’s honor, his favorite Italian pasta dish, Cacio e Pepe.

Unauthorized Biography Postponed – Publication of Charles Leerhsen’s unauthorized biography of Bourdain, Down and Out in Paradise, has been postponed from June to October 11 for reasons unknown.

I’m lifetime-banned from Twitter, but I was able to stroll through Leerhsen’s Twitter feed to see if I could find out more. From his retweets, Leerhsen is undeniably liberal, but his bona fides include being Donald Trump’s ghostwriter from 1988-1990 on Trump’s second book, and he wrote an article about how he is no fan of Putin’s greasy orange sock puppet (my description, not his).

In February, I found this pair of tweets…

What “intimate sources” on EARTH could he be talking about? And how would Bourdain’s “personal files” be in anyone’s custody but his family’s? And since the book is “definitely unauthorized” (according to the Amazon blurb) Tony’s family’s lack of cooperation is admitted.

I’m not attacking Leerhsen’s credibility here, but he seems to raise his own bar extremely high for delivering trustworthy, significant new facts.

From other tweets I found, he did some genealogical digging into Tony’s late mother Gladys’ ancestry. He could find the scoop on Tony’s paternal forebears right here at Cats Working — and maybe he did.

Brasserie Les Halles Has Moved On, But Not Too Far – Bourdain’s last kitchen workplace in New York City closed in 2016, but its darkened front instantly became a makeshift memorial site after his death in 2018, entirely covered with notes and flowers from fans.

It reopened recently under new ownership as La Brasserie, still with a French bistro vibe. As a remembrance of Bourdain, the signature dish of steak frites remains on the menu.

Bourdain Market Idea Revived, in a Fashion – Bourdain regretfully pulled the plug in 2017 on his vision of founding a Singaporean-style food court in NYC, to be called Bourdain Market. But the James Beard Foundation has picked up the baton and is working with the same developers Tony partnered with to transform Pier 57 into a food hall and community gathering place. It sounds like it may lack the international flair Tony was hoping for, but it proves his idea wasn’t such a pipe dream, after all.

Where Are the Crew Now? Helen Cho – While recently watching season 2 of the HBO series, Painting with John, I noticed Helen Cho’s name listed in the credits. “John” is artist/musician John Lurie, one of Bourdain’s last acquaintances. Remember Helen from Roadrunner? She seemed the one most ferociously willing to “go there” when it came to acknowledging who probably pushed Tony too close to the edge.

As it always seems to happen in life, soon after seeing her name, Helen did an interview with Eater that crossed my radar. She’s gone the freelance route with her work and seems to be making good connections. I wish her every success.

Cats Working PS – That earlier tweet by Charles Leerhsen about Bourdain’s world beginning to “shift and fade,” reminded me of one of the things I miss most about having Tony on the planet — discovering new people through him.

For example, John Lurie is a person I’d never heard of until Tony bought one of his paintings and had him on Parts Unknown. Now I absolutely love that guy and the quirks of his boundless imagination. He makes me want to dust off my watercolors and try again.

Come to think of it, Marco Pierre White is another one. When it came to celebrity chefs, Gordan Ramsay and Emeril pretty much comprised my repertoire. Bourdain introduced me to Jacques Pépin, Eric Ripert. Nigella Lawson, Ludo Lefevre, Marcus Samuelsson, David Chang, Gabrielle Hamilton, I could go on and on.

Not to mention Nancy, Ottavia, Ariane, his brother Chris. Zamir. Crew member Tom Vitale.

When Bourdain’s world stopped spinning, my world stopped expanding, in a way. No one else has been opening new doors to new people and places the way he regularly did for me, just by waking up every day and letting his curiosity lead him.

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9 Responses to Got a Bit of Bourdain News to Share

  1. Corinna ther says:

    Yes ! I live in Singapore and hope to see it soon !!!

  2. Hey Cats,

    Hope you’re well.
    About the upcoming book. You might have seen this interview but in case you haven’t here are a couple of paragraphs where he talks about the book. Don’t know what to make of what he’s saying, but I will most likely read the book:

    https://www.richehisen.com/a-few-words-with-charles-leerhsen

    Open Mic: Do you have any new projects you are already working on?
    Leerhsen: Yes. I’m deep into working on a book on Anthony Bourdain. It’s been very challenging in that as open as he was about himself – and I’ve not found any instance where he didn’t tell the truth about himself – I’ve found many instances where he didn’t go quite as far with it as he might have. There are also people around him who might have a financial stake in his legacy, and some of them have circled the wagons and don’t want anyone else telling his story. But fortunately, the edicts that went out that no one should talk to me has actually pushed several key people in my direction that don’t want to be told who they can and cannot talk to.

    Open Mic: I like to end with a fun question. Let’s say I could put you together with any one person from the following group for a good conversation. This time I’ll offer a variation on my usual collection of options and offer you the chance to speak with any of the historic figures you have written about – from Cobb to Butch Cassidy or even the people around the great horse Dan Patch? Who would you choose and why?
    Leerhsen: I guess I would pick Anthony Bourdain. I’m in the process of discovering why the guy who had the greatest job in the world would kill himself, but I’d love to hear his version of the story. I think I know what it is, but I’d like to hear it from him. I also feel like I know him to some extent, though I’ve never met him. And I think I’d rather meet Dan Patch than the people around him, so I’ll definitely take Bourdain.

  3. catsworking says:

    Thank you, scenicandsonic! No, I hadn’t seen this interview. Looks like it’s from August 2020, when I didn’t even know this guy was writing a book about Bourdain. I’ve already pre-ordered it, and I’ll be VERY interested to see who in Bourdain’s circle chaffed at being told who they could speak to. My guess is that it’s people who would like to put more of the skank’s involvement on the record, which would be fine with me.

    I’m liking Leerhsen more and more. When I read the second paragraph, I thought, “Well, the cats and I would DEFINITELY want to talk to Dan Patch himself.” And then HE said it! I just hope he can deliver the goods with his book.

  4. mary hunter says:

    Karen,

    I so agree with you about how Tony introduced us to people we may never have known. For me, I really have enjoyed knowing about Michael Ruhlman. He went on several adventures with Tony. He also wrote a memoir about renovating a beautiful old house in his hometown of Cleveland. I found this interesting since I live in a 100 years plus house. Also, Eric Ripert visited him there and was so matter of fact of the idea that of course old houses may have ghosts. But Ruhlman is known more for his books about Thomas Keller and the French Laundry, and other books about food and chefs. And through Ruhlman (and check out his wonderful blog about food, books, movies, restaurants, etc.) I found out about his wonderfully talented writer wife, Ann Hood. She has her latest book coming out in May about her time as a flight attendant.

    Love what you say about how when Tony’s world stopped spinning, your world quit expanding. So lovely and beautifully put. Thank you.

  5. catsworking says:

    Mary, thanks for the kind words. Ruhlman would be another one for me, too. Such a parade of interesting people we met through Bourdain. Alice Waters is another one who just popped into my head. I could make a very long list if I put my mind to it.

    I see new faces on TV all the time, but they just don’t stick with me the way they did when I discovered them through Tony’s eyes. I don’t have any particular favorites to mention at the moment, but I just finished watching the “Julia Child Challenge,” which was a 6-week series where home cooks had to riff on famous Child dishes, cooking in a facsimile of her turquoise kitchen. It was very good, and not cut-throat at all.

    There’s also a wonderful series about Julia streaming on HBO Max right now, with Sarah Lancashire doing a spot-on Child, and David Hyde-Pierce (Niles from “Frasier”) as Paul Child.

    Do you think your house is haunted? There’s a series with Courtney Cox that just finished a first season on Starz called “Shining Vale” that’s about a haunted house and very good. Scary and funny.

    I’m really at a loss as to what’s going on in mine. I bought it when it was three years old, but it had only been occupied for one year. The first two years, it was a model home. So, I don’t think anybody died here. Except my previous 8 cats (only 2 actually died here, the rest were at the vet’s). But none of them would play with the garbage disposal.

    I just started reading Randy Rainbow’s memoir, “Playing with Myself.” Like him, it’s very funny. I hope he gets his wish to star on Broadway in something. He’s certainly got the talent.

  6. mary hunter says:

    Karen,

    I will have to check out the Julia show. Love David Hyde Pierce! I will also want to see the show “Shining Vale”. In answer to your question, I don’t think my house is haunted, but we lived in one in the same neighborhood that definitely was. One of the previous owners committed suicide there and there was this one spot inside the house, and also on the same spot directly outside where my then cat Maxine acted really funny. There were other things, too of course. Luckily, we weren’t there for long! Good luck with your spirits, they sound harmless!

  7. Nancy B. says:

    The New York Times has a pretty long and detailed article about Leerhson’s book here (this is a gift link, so you should be able to read it):
    https://tinyurl.com/5n6ru3nb

    Apparently there’s info from files and texts pulled from his phone and laptop, which are part of his estate. Ottavia has control of those things, and while Leerhson won’t say whether she was interviewed for the book, she hasn’t pushed back on its contents, according to the article.

    Christopher Bourdain and Eric Ripert say there are inaccuracies, but the publisher has pushed back on Christopher Bourdain’s claims, and Ripert says there are details he only told a few people.

    Asia … doesn’t come off well, not surprisingly. Tragic, if true.

    Nancy apparently was also a source for some info and man, I have to wonder how she feels — thinking if only he’d followed her lead and stayed away from TV. We’d be poorer for it, but maybe they’d still be together – and he’d still be alive.

  8. catsworking says:

    Nancy, so sorry for this late posting. For some reason, your comment went to spam and I just found it.

    What rings most true to me in the snippets we’ve seen of the book are AA’s texts. On the other hand, it seems odd that she would be cutting off her main source of income by breaking up with him. She was so upset about the loss of support after he died, Tome Vitale told me one of the first things she asked him when he went to Italy to confront her was to ask where Tony’s money was.

    I guess we’ll need to read the rest of the book to see if we find any inaccuracies in things we know.

    Since AA comes off so bad in the book, I would expect Ottavia to get a certain satisfaction from it and not push back, especially if she helped Leerhsen get the truth out by giving him the texts.

  9. feijicha says:

    Karen I came back to this post from your link in your most recent Bourdain post. Your summation of how Tony impact your life resonates with so many of us.

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