Bourdain the Ubiquitous

December 17, 2013

By Karen

In late October, I traveled to Lisbon to make a 13-day transatlantic crossing to Miami on Royal Caribbean’s ship, Vision of the Seas. My plan was to get away from it ALL — job, litterboxes, useless Congress (and Obama), never-ending disasters, premature Christmas (that one didn’t work out at all, the Caribbean was already decorated). I just wanted to reboot.

But one thing I couldn’t leave behind — Anthony Bourdain. He was EVERYWHERE.

Not that I complain. Long-time readers know Cats Working has a history with Tony & Assoc. And other travelers with only a passing interest wouldn’t have even noticed how he dogged their every step (through no fault of his own, I must add — he has people for that now).

Bourdain has certainly hit critical mass, and then some. The Richmond, Newark, Miami, and Atlanta airports all had their big-screen TVs tuned to CNN.

They might as well have been showing the Cartoon Network, but let me not digress.

During every commercial break (they’re numerous) were Parts Unknown commercials and outtakes, especially for the season finale in Detroit.

In United’s and Delta’s in-flight magazines, I found his caricature and mentions in several places.

I caught him on TV at my hotel in Lisbon.

In my cabin on the ship, in mid-freaking-ocean, I channel-surfed to a rerun of No Res on ship’s TV where he visited St. Vincent and Bequia in the Grenadines. This struck me as ironic, since Bourdain expresses only disdain for cruise travel.

So, I tell people I took this vacation alone, but Bourdain might as well have been in my suitcase.

In other news…

Thanks to my new DVR, I’ve been collecting all of A Cook’s Tour and I’m closing in on the last episode I need, “My Life as a Cook.” Sitting on the DVR yet to be watched is Tony’s first episode ever, “A Taste of Tokyo.”

I’m actually enjoying A Cook’s Tour more than Parts Unknown because it’s pre-jaded Tony. At times, he reacts to strange dishes like Andrew Zimmern used to, before Zimmern anointed himself mini-Bourdain.

Today, there seems to be nothing revolting enough to make Tony turn a hair. The thrill is gone.

If you follow Tony on Twitter, you know he’s taken up Brazilian jiu jitsu with his wife and daughter, and recently earned his first stripe on his white belt.

Personally, if I had a husband, and he were on the cusp of geezerhood, and he told me he was taking up wrestling, I’d brain him with a skillet.

In case you’re interested, Gothamist did a nice job of covering some new ground with Tony and his relationship with movies, before he appeared on Dec. 11 with filmmaker Albert Maysles at the Society for Ethical Culture in NYC.

And mark your calendar. Season 2 of Tony’s cooking competition, The Taste, begins Jan. 2. Nigella Lawson and Ludo Lefebvre are back, and they’ve replaced Brian Malarkey with Marcus Samuelsson as a judge.

I’m just relieved they didn’t recruit that bald bastard from Master Chef, so I’ll check it out, with fingers crossed that it’s improved.

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Screwed Myself on Bourdain Ticket

November 19, 2012

By Karen

Tickets for Anthony Bourdain’s April 23, 2013, Guts & Glory appearance in Richmond, Virginia, went on sale Friday, Nov. 16. While trying to coordinate with a small party, I waited until Saturday morning, intending to purchase a VIP ticket.

ONE. FREAKING. DAY.

VIP tickets were sold out. But I was able to get a good seat (alone, I stopped caring where anybody else sits). I’ll be in the Orchestra, 7th row, undoubtedly within spitting distance of the VIPs.

Not to belittle Bourdain, but find it unbelievable that one nondescript mention of him at the end of a long, unrelated story in Wednesday’s food section in the Richmond Times-Dispatch, and a few other bits in local outlets caused this box office stampede.

I smell a rat and wouldn’t be surprised if some corporate entity bought the VIP seats as a bloc.

So I won’t have another Bourdain encounter after all, but Cats Working will report nonetheless.

Here’s a nicely done recap of Tony’s sold-out G&G appearance on Nov. 16 at Boston’s Symphony Hall. Can’t say that I’m seeing him cover any new ground here, but maybe it wasn’t included.

I caught 2 more episodes of The Mind of a Chef on PBS, which aired at 3 a.m. here. (See what I’m saying about Richmond lacking the foodie gene?)

One episode was called “Rotten,” and included an hilarious demo on how to make kimchi:

In the other, David Chang traveled to Denmark for a lesson in how Scandinavians will eat just about any flora, and even the yukky skin that forms on hot milk.

And in the Tony’s Friends Dept.…

May 11, 2013, Tony is making a joint appearance with Andrew Zimmern in Minneapolis. Even though Tony will be a distant memory at Travel Channel (and possibly in litigation over the Cadillac commercial) by then, Zimmern still seems eager to bask in the fading glory. It’s kind of sad.

Eric Ripert is on a merchandising rampage. Now he’s launching his own line of Imperial Select Caviar. A 4 oz. tin sells for $525.

Top Chef co-host Padma Lakshmi has done a spread for Playboy because it seems there’s nothing she likes better than being naked or nearly so. And you know the world’s clamoring to see a woman who gave birth at nearly 40 in the altogether.

Padma credits her svelteness, which does appear to be waning, to a “fast metabolism.”

I’m thinking it’s that — and lots of quality time hunched over a toilet bowl.

And this just in… Padma never watches Top Chef.


Bourdain’s ‘Get Jiro!’ an Acquired Taste

July 9, 2012

By Karen

THIS JUST IN: Bourdain’s cooking competition with Nigella Lawson on ABC to be called The Taste and run for 8 episodes. Read more at Variety.

Now, back to the original post…

Anthony Bourdain may be spawning yet another new writing genre — apocalyptic culinary science fiction — with his first graphic novel, Get Jiro!

A lot of it went over my head, but I assume foodies will marinate with glee in the gastronomic references and restaurant inside jokes. And there are enough lopped-off limbs and beheading gross-outs to appeal to teenage boys who wouldn’t know good sushi rice from Rice Krispies.

Tony covered a lot of familiar ground with the food, including recreation of the infamous ortolan scene from Medium Raw. He also got in his digs at vegans, locavores, fast food, fat people, restaurant chains, and Alice Waters.

Visually, it’s beautiful, with cinematic artwork by Langdon Foss and Jose Villarrubia that features many mood-evoking futuristic cityscapes.

But I didn’t particularly “hear” Tony’s voice until this impassioned speech near the end: “We make BEAUTIFUL revolution, so you and I, brother and sister, our children…without shame…can live and cook foods we love without oppression from IMPERIALIST JACKALS who make us buy their SHIT INGREDIENT and live like dogs!”

Speaking of dogs, he included a few cats. We first see Jiro in his restaurant with a manekineko (Japanese beckoning cat) in the window, and a couple of real cats have walk-ons in a restaurant scene.

Be warned: This may be just the beginning for Jiro. The ending screams “sequel!”

Tor did a far more insightful review of the book than I could ever hope to write.

Bourdain gave a good interview to Comic Book Resources.

In other news…

Belated “Happy Birthday!” Tony turned 56 on June 25. Broward Palm Beach NewTimes suggested 5 gifts for him.

And “Congratulations!” No Reservations won the Critics’ Choice 2012 TV Award for Best Reality Series.

When Tony visited Jimmy Fallon recently, backstage he filmed this little video on how to make negronis, a concoction of Campari, gin, and sweet vermouth — with a slice of orange.

The Bourdain and Ripert families rented houses in the Hamptons this summer, and Tony and Eric did a Hamptons magazine cover shoot where they modeled some clothing and accessories. Eric sported a $38,000 Rolex.

The accompanying article misstates Tony’s birthplace as NYC, and then makes a rookie usage error in the second paragraph about how Tony’s paid Eric many “complements” in Kitchen Confidential. But then the inept intro gives way to a straight transcript of a great conversation between Tony and Eric.

Here’s some video of Tony and crew eating around NYC for Vice.com and paying a surprise visit to Les Halles.

Andrew Zimmern talks these days like he and Bourdain are BFFs and praises Tony effusively. On the other hand, just about every time I’ve ever heard Bourdain mention Zimmern, he’s a punchline.

Bourdain recently raised $10K for the NYC Food Bank by skydiving in tandem with the COO of Air Canada.

Ottavia, in addition to earning her blue belt recently (Congrats!), is executive producer on a pilot for a scripted Web series about the restaurant business called “Employees Only.”

Still no word on names for Bourdain’s new shows on CNN and ABC.


Bourdain to Jump Ship to CNN

May 29, 2012

By Karen

I haven’t written about Anthony Bourdain lately because No Reservations is leaving me meh, but attention must be paid to today’s announcement that No Res is wrapping up after current Season 8 and he’ll be leaving Travel Channel after filming one more season of The Layover. In 2013 he’ll begin a Sunday prime-time series on CNN and become a domestic and international commentator.

Here at Cats Working, we’ve been saying for a long time that he’s too good for TC, but I’m not sure CNN is good enough for Bourdain. What do you think?

This just in (5/30): The CNN arrangement calls for Bourdain to produce 8 shows in 2 seasons each year, or a total of 16 episodes. Will an 8-week “season” be enough to  hook viewers so they’ll remember to return 6 months later for more? Hmmm…

Bizarre Food’s Andrew Zimmern, who’s been lately talking like Bourdain’s mini-me, must be giddy at the prospect of inheriting Tony’s crown as the “grand old man” of TC.

CNN’s news release describes Tony’s as-yet-unnamed program as one that “will be shot on location and examine cultures from around the world through their food and dining and travel rituals.”

I certainly hope this implies something more substantive than another opportunity for Tony to globe-trot, eat, drink, and shoot his mouth off.

Will CNN try to rein in Bourdain’s tendencies to stir up controversy? At last weekend’s Great GoogaMooga Festival in Brooklyn, Tony talked about doing unspeakable (if well-deserved) things to Dick Cheney and expressed a desire to soak an Olive Garden in gasoline so he could burn it to the ground over its pasta-cooking techniques.

Apparently, he’s forgotten the heartfelt review of the new Grand Forks Olive Garden that got him so misty-eyed, he handed a publishing deal to its 85-year-old author that’s probably doomed to produce a book to make Garrison Keillor seem like a pornographer in comparison.

Gothamist did a good job of putting Tony’s kind gesture into its proper Photoshopped perspective.

Tony’s long-awaited graphic novel, Get Jiro! is finally coming out July 3.

And someone is adapting his first novel, Bone in the Throat, into a movie.

Bourdain received an honorary Clio Award on May 15. I congratulate him, but I’m still trying to wrap my head around the rationale behind it.

I’d say Bourdain’s career has hit critical mass. Like Paula Deen, whatever he touches, whether past, present or future, is destined to turn to gold.

Speaking of Paula, Tony tried to clarify that he objects to her misleading fans and profiting richly from diabetes, while Paula and her kids disingenuously spin it that Bourdain blames her for having diabetes.

BONUS…

A few other things I’ve collected that may interest you:

Tony told Eater he’s still considering the year-in-Vietnam book, but opened the possibility of relocating it to Italy. YES, YES! Eater “gets” Tony, and their interview is well worth reading. In 2 parts.

Here are the first batch of books Tony has chosen to publish under his new Ecco imprint.

Ottavia’s become a celebrity in her own special niche. Here’s are some links to video interviews on how she got into MMA.


Bourdain’s Back on the Road

October 26, 2011

By Karen

Anthony Bourdain kicked his personal appearances back into high gear last week. Here’s what I’ve found on his near-upcoming schedule…

October

26 Charlotte, NC*
27 Dallas, TX
28 San Diego, CA
29 Vancouver
30 Charlottesville, VA*
31 NYC for Halloween?

November

2 Philadelphia, PA*
3 Portland, ME*
4 Cleveland, OH
5 Asheville, NC
10 Washington, DC
Food Fight

* “Good vs. Evil” with Eric Ripert

Bourdain told the San Jose Mercury News that his appearances have a new format, with lots of fresh material and video clips from his TV shoots. If you’ve seen him in person before, it sounds like he’s worth checking out again. I’m eager to start seeing bloggers weighing in on these appearances.

I didn’t know he was going to be in Charlottesville with Ripert until just the other day when Ripert tweeted something. When I checked into it, it was sold out.

In other news…

Rachael Ray told Joy Behar that she has invited Bourdain on her show in November, and said nice things about him. I haven’t seen whether he has accepted.

At the NYC Wine & Food Festival earlier this month, Bourdain’s Mini-Me, Andrew Zimmern, jumped into the fray and covered Tony’s back in his tussle with Paula Deen over what’s wrong with her cooking.

Speaking of the Festival, Cats Working’s own MorganLF was there, and hung out in the audience with Ottavia while Tony was on stage doing his thing.

Bourdain gave an interview about his literary side to the Los Angeles Times.

In case you missed it, here’s a 5-minute video of Ottavia talking about MMA. She says practicing the sport allows her to eat 3,000-4,000 calories a day, mostly meat and veggies.

And here’s a pretty funny video of Eric Ripert visiting Costco with Alan Richman.

On The Chew, Michael Symon responded to Bourdain’s snarky comments about the show.

The Vancouver Sun touched base with Tony on all the things he’s been doing lately. Mildly interesting.

Sandra Lee talked to Harper’s Bazaar (or in her case, Bizarre) and said about Bourdain’s snipes at her, “I think he makes it up, cause nobody can be that nasty.” The article was accompanied by several photos of Lee as a culinary sex goddess.

In case you missed Ottavia’s Twitter link, Tony’s interviewing really hit the big leagues now with one featured in Playboy.

For Bourdain’s appearance in Dallas on October 27, a blogger with D Magazine got screwed out of a pre-interview because it wouldn’t appear in print, and somehow Tony found out and contacted her to rectify the matter.

Tony also shared a list of his favorite cooking shows with Grub Street.

And on a final note…

I’ve been suffering through the non-stop padding and commercials on Dancing with the Stars (which ABC won’t let you bypass even On Demand) just to see Chaz Bono and JR Martinez dance, and can’t help thinking of what “might have been” if Bourdain had agreed to do the show. If they’d blessed him with a tall partner, women would have swooned over his waltz, foxtrot, quickstep, tango, and paso doble. But I can’t see him getting into the jive or Latin dances.

Anyway, Eater.com Photoshopped Bourdain into a series of DWTS “what if” pics. If you missed them, they are PRICELESS.


May Be the Company Bourdain Keeps

September 13, 2011

By Karen

Once again, Anthony Bourdain was nominated for an Emmy, for Outstanding Writing on No Reservations: Haiti, only to lose to some guy named Stanley Nelson who wrote Freedom Riders for PBS.

No Res did take home the statue for best Cinematography (well-deserved and Congratulations!), but lost as Best Nonfiction Series to American Masters on PBS.

Maybe it’s just me, but are you beginning to see a pattern here? Could it be that Tony’s getting no respect because being Travel Channel’s “biggest star” is a dubious achievement? After all, he’s shining among such stellar programming as Truck Stop Missouri, Man v. Food Nation, Mancations, Sand Castles, Ghost Adventures, and Bizarre Foods.

Bourdain has just been named a consulting editor who will acquire 3-5 books a year for for his publisher, HarperCollins, under the Ecco imprint (check out the new logo). Presumably, he’ll also be writing for Season 3 of Treme, and that chef he had working for all his NYC buddies in Season 2 will stop being irrelevant and return to New Orleans.

Bourdain’s career seems to be taking a decidedly literary turn, so he may have to stop treating his writing so dismissively. No longer playing that balls-and-bug-eating Andrew Zimmern’s role model can only be a good thing.

On September 11, Tony did a relaxed, beer-fueled 2 ½-hour podcast with Joe Rogan. Among many things, Tony said he still wants to go to the Congo, but Mozambique is in the cards sooner.

Finally, in the Tony’s Friends Department…

Marge Simpson dreams of being on Top Chef in The Simpsons’ season premier on September 25, and Tom Colicchio makes an appearance. No word on Padma.

And I read this insightful opinion piece at SeaCoastOnline.com about celebrity chefs who pretend to be actors.


Bourdain Regains His Throne at TC

March 7, 2011

By Karen

Sorry, Zimmern. Anthony Bourdain came roaring out of the gate with Season 7 of No Reservations in Haiti, tweeting live during the broadcast, and temporarily crashing the server of Sean Penn’s Haiti relief organization, J/P HRO. (If you want to help out, donations are welcome.)

While I was watching Ghost Adventures the following Friday night, Bourdain dominated every commercial break. I may have to eat my words about No Res being on the wane. I hope so. Especially since this season will include Cuba. He’s there right this minute.

TIME magazine called the Haiti show a “thoughtful piece of cultural journalism.” Could there be Emmy potential in Tony’s sensitively incisive voiceover?

Speaking of Zimmern, Bourdain was on stage at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival last weekend talking his standard trash about the guy when Baldie himself showed up.

Wonder of wonders, AOL did a good interview with Bourdain. It always shows when the questioner is a fan.

Tony told Entertainment Weekly his favorite foodie films, and I’m sitting here looking at the March 11 hardcopy edition where he names his 5 most terrifying meals. They are: rotten shark in Iceland, warthog in Namibia, anything at Olive Garden, natto, and Dale T’s butterscotch scallops on Top Chef.

Last week, Tony appeared with Gabrielle Hamilton, author of Blood, Bones & Butter, at Barnes & Noble in NYC. His hobby of book blurbing is making him the Oprah of culinary memoirs. Hamilton will probably soon be on everybody’s radar, thanks to his enthusiastic endorsement.

Bourdain and Ripert appeared in Boston together on March 4 as “Good vs. Evil.” Most interesting was Eric’s story about how he once handled a complaining customer. I just can’t picture it.

Tony also talked to EW about writing for Treme. He seems to be finding a new niche with script-writing and, if Treme’s co-creator David Simon is any judge, Tony’s really good at it.

And finally, Top Chef All-Stars

Not even on my worst day would I ever dream of mashing hot dog buns into sour cream and cheese and calling it soup, but that’s what Mike did in the Quickfire. He should probably stick to stealing recipes.

Then Mike and Antonia found out that they are distant cousins and their contentious relationship did a complete 180. Now they’re BFFs.

Bourdain was MIA again, but the judges were all uncharacteristically kind in front of the cheftestant family members who dined with them. Padma didn’t even spit anything into her napkin. Apparently, every dish was truly excellent.

At judges’ table, they made a few weak stabs at nitpicking, and Padma almost killed Richard by telling him to “pack his knives,” but that was their idea of a “joke.” Instead, all 5 remaining chefs got to stay for the finale. They’re going to the Bahamas, where Padma will fulfill her fond fantasy of hosting in a bikini.

If you missed the show, here’s Max Silvestri’s funny and more detailed recap at Eater.

Tonight, No Reservations goes to Cambodia.


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