Bourdain’s on the Road – Again

September 20, 2010

By Karen

We’re fresh out of new episodes of No Reservations, but this week Anthony Bourdain is making personal appearances in Houston (tonight), Toronto (9/22), Fredericksburg VA (9/23), and Springfield CT (9/24).

The Houston Chronicle got an advance interview. Among other things, here’s what Tony had to say about food writers…

“I can hardly imagine that this brave new world of bloggers can be worse than the agenda-driven, overprivileged, entitled class of dottering old farts who currently occupy the top tier of food journalism. It’s a pretty appalling bunch of bent, angry people who despise their subjects and hate their jobs and have been going through the motions for a long time.”

NowToronto published a 2-part interview with Bourdain, where he describes himself as an “’ex-cook who tells stories.’ Essayist maybe?” In Part 2, he says he doesn’t hate Paula Deen, and describes his upcoming graphic novel, Get Gyro (spelling? Ottavia spelled it Get Jiro on Twitter) as “Yojimbo meets Big Night and Babette’s Feast, an ultra-violent slaughter-fest over culinary arcana.”

Earlier, he told the Omaha World-Herald it’s “a gourmet slaughterfest, sort of like Fistful of Dollars meets Eat Drink Man Woman.”

Whichever it is, it sounds like an orgy of food, blood, and guts that may make his animated Alternate Universe seem tame.

When Bourdain was recently in London pushing Medium Raw, he told Metro that he doesn’t see food writing as part of his future path. He said he’s “kind of pushing himself” out of it because he’s becoming jaded, and has shelved plans to move to Vietnam because of No Res.

Hey, you read it here first. I’ve been saying that all along.

He also said something I take issue with. That is…

“I don’t think my writing has evolved. I mean I haven’t been working at it.”

By virtue of his output since Kitchen Confidential, he has unconsciously been honing how he expresses himself, even if he thinks he writes like he talks.

Tony, here’s the test: If you can read anything you wrote at least 6 months ago and find anything you’d like to revise, your writing is evolving.

On September 13, Bourdain appeared at the 92nd Street Y in NYC with David Chang and provides a thorough account of what sounds like a strange and awkward night. Chang is weird. Tony mentioned that Cuba, Haiti, the Congo, and Kurdistan are on his short list for NR Season 7.

Bourdain did an interview with Submerge before his September 17 Sacramento appearance and said that daughter Ariane and Alice Waters are a lot alike because Ariane eats only organic food and likes Paris.

CTnow got a really good interview with Tony before his September 24 Springfield appearance where he mentions that Ariane behaves herself in restaurants.

For some reason, I want to give Ottavia most of the credit for making sure Ariane’s never a whiny, fidgety brat in public, like the ones we’ve all had the misfortune of sharing meals or airplanes with.

On a side note… selected the still-unidentified Ruth Bourdain as one of the Chow 13 in their 2nd annual recognition of the food world’s movers and shakers. They even got an e-mail interview with the elusive, yet always hilarious, tweeter.

Did Bourdain Lose His Skull?

March 1, 2010

By Karen

It’s safe to turn on the TV again. The Olympics are finally over. All the athletes are heading home to fondle their medals and pose for cereal boxes. If countries poured as much time and money into medical research as they do into sports, we’d have a cure for cancer.

OK, I feel better now. Rant over.

Anthony Bourdain’s in Ecuador tonight in a new episode of No Reservations. I’ll have to leave the room when he chows down on guinea pigs. They were my starter pets before my parents let me have a cat.

Travel Channel has posted 3 new episodes of Alternate Universe, “The Slippery Slope,” “The Travel Bug,” and “Sidekick Needed.” Their webmaster shows his/her usual meticulous attention to detail by misnumbering them.

I’m snarky because I stumbled over them while searching in vain for the NR schedule. The link clearly saysNo Reservations TV Schedule,” but that’s not what it delivers. I never did find it.

The Bourdains enjoyed a long weekend in South Beach for the Food Network’s Food & Wine Festival. Tony and Eric Ripert recorded their Sirius radio show, Turn & Burn, there on February 25.

Cats Working reader Cindy provided this link to Miami New Times and a good interview with Ottavia. But check out the picture — closely. Notice anything different about Tony? Give up?

Tony and Ottavia in South Beach. (Photo - Miami New Times)

The infamous Miami Ink skull tattoo on his right shoulder seems to be missing! I wondered if Tony had it removed to spare Ariane the scare of having it grinning back at her when she seeks out Daddy’s shoulder to cry on, but I was just informed by an unimpeachable source that this photo is OLD. Tony’s skull tattoo is definitely intact, and I apologize for jumping to conclusions to anyone who read the earlier version of this post.

Village Voice has a good take on Bourdain’s Yo Gabba Gabba appearance. Since the characters are just colorful blobs to me, I completely missed that Toodee, Tony’s leading lady (at least, I think she’s female), is a giant cat.

Food Network Humor also weighed in on YGG, and the comments were pretty brutal. They’re calling Tony “Bore-dain” over there. Ouch!

And here’s a strangely lavish item from the New York Times food blog, Bitten, about a week-long, multi-restaurant event Bourdain attended in New York City recently, thrown by daughter Ariane’s namesake, Ariane Daguin, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of her company, D’Artagnon. You have to read this to believe what she did.

Bourdain Food Fight Pan Scrapings

November 16, 2009

By Karen

The last tidbits I picked up from my evening with Anthony and Ottavia Bourdain at the Capital Food Fight in Washington, DC, on November 11:

Bourdain’s next book…

The manuscript is due in December for June 2010 publication, so Tony must be putting the finishing touches on it now. There will be a book tour. Ottavia told me the title may not be Cooks. She hasn’t read it. He only lets her see his finished work because she said her criticism is “too brutal.”


Ottavia showed me a picture of Ariane in a full-length white gown for Halloween, saying proudly that she looked like “a beautiful little bride.” Mama took Ariane trick-or-treating and she loved it. Tony was traveling and upset to miss it, but he already has next Halloween blocked off on his schedule. According to Ottavia, Ariane has her mother’s good appetite, eyes, and the strawberry blonde hair Ottavia had as a child, as well as Dad’s mouth and height. The height should serve her well because she’s studying ballet.

Ariane was with them in DC, staying at the hotel with her nanny. From there, they were flying to Miami for Tony’s appearance on November 13 with Jacques Pepin and Eric Ripert. He was due to speak in Schenectady, NY, on November 15, which regrettably didn’t leave much time for Miami R&R.


Ottavia is “really excited” about moving to Vietnam, but doesn’t see it happening for a few years because of Tony’s many other commitments. However, he’s returning there in 2010 to, I assume, shoot another No Reservations.

Social life…

In New York, the Bourdain’s don’t go out much. Tony is recognized everywhere, and when he’s not traveling, he’d rather relax at home — and not in the kitchen. Ottavia said it’s not because she doesn’t like his cooking, as he claims. With a laugh she told me, “When I married a chef, I thought good… but no, he doesn’t cook much.”

After their early drinking dates, starting very late after her restaurant closed, they drink little at home. Ottavia said, “Mainly, Anthony drinks for the show and socially, but not in airports at 10 in the morning.”

Bourdain’s Alternate Universe…

I asked Tony if casting himself as the mad scientist for the “Cooking Channel” in his new animated Web series was deliberate, since Travel Channel’s new owners will be launching a channel by that name. He said with some irony, “No, it was serendipitous.”

Life imitating his art. Sometimes the snark is purely unintentional.

He also mentioned that this “Web freebie” turned out to be a lot more work than he envisioned. Ottavia said it was the brainchild of one of the producers’ relatives, a graphic designer.

Ottavia’s fans…

After the Food Fight, Ottavia asked me to accompany her up on stage, where Tony gave her a big kiss. Then he noticed me, and I said jokingly, “She and I are new best friends.”

He answered, “I was afraid of that.”


For all his misgivings about allowing me access to his wife, Bourdain placed his hand on my shoulder, not on my throat. Remarkable restraint.

People were clamoring to meet him on stage, so Ottavia and I returned to the floor, where two young Asian women shyly approached Ottavia. They recognizing her from No Res in Sardinia and told her they loved it. Ottavia seemed touched and surprised, and obligingly posed for a photo with them.

They left, and when I observed, “You have your own fans now,” she giggled.

Final thoughts…

Tony and Ottavia seem like a perfect fit. They’re attentive to each other, but she’s comfortable stepping back to share him with fans. Her self-confidence and maturity must help to ground him, but she also has a youthful ebullience that he probably needs to keep himself going at times.

When the night was over, we walked outside for another soaking by Hurricane Ida and ran in to none other than Tony, Ottavia, and Eric Ripert on the empty street. Tony bounded away to hail a cab and off they went.

Bourdain, Ray & Lee – Together Again

November 9, 2009

By Karen

Scripps Networks Interactive, owner of Anthony Bourdain’s first cruel TV master, the Food Network, bought a 65% controlling interest in the Travel Channel for $181 million, bringing Tony back into the fold. I hope all the FN butts of his jokes are kind to him.

Scripps also plans to launch a Cooking Channel, which Bourdain mocked in “Robo Chef,” the first episode of his Alternate Universe Web series.

Last week, Winnipeg Bob withheld one New York City photo from us. He snapped Tony on the wall of Katz’s Deli. Unfortunately, this was as close as they got.


(Photo - Winnipeg Bob)

On November 18, Bourdain is appearing in Denver, and Tony’s Market there is running a 50-word essay contest. The winner gets to make dinner for Bourdain and meet him face-to-face.

Confirming the opinion of Cats Working’s Finnish reader, Fanfromfaraway, here’s a bit about how Bourdain wows ‘em in Helsinki.

Domestica saw Tony in Des Moines on November 5, and her husband thinks Bourdain’s a misogynist. Could it be all those Rachael Ray, Sandra Lee, and Alice Waters digs? Domestica also has something interesting to say about Andrew Zimmern.

The Michigan Daily caught up with Tony before his appearance in Ann Arbor on November 7 and had him suggest a resolution to the Pakistan/Afghanistan problem (it involves Chicken McNuggets) and name his favorite album (The Stooges’ Fun House).

Tubefilter considers Bourdain’s writing in Kitchen Confidential and Alternate Universeoverseasoned.” If it is, I like whatever spice Tony’s using.

January 14-18, 2010, marks the 3rd annual (Grand) Cayman Cookout. Tony will be there, hosting a beachside BBQ at Calico Jacks, which Eric Ripert calls, “the best dive bar in the world.” Seems fitting.

And of course, Cats Working readers Morgan and Cindy and yours truly are having our own brush with Bourdain on November 11 when he co-hosts the Capital Food Fight in Washington, DC. Stay tuned…

Another Week in the Life of Bourdain

November 2, 2009

By Karen

Wendy at Room 214 should have known some bloggers can’t keep a secret. The November 2 debut episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Alternate Universe on the Travel Channel Web site, “Robo Chef,” was on YouTube and all over the blogosphere by October 27. (Except here, where cats have honor.)

Bourdain’s posted about it the same day on his own blog, revealing that he wrote the whole series himself, so it should be good, although it’s getting mixed reviews.

Tony is appearing in Waukegan, Illinois, on November 6, and Deborah Pankey of the Daily Herald got an advance phone interview with him. Tony told her that Ariane was a fairy princess for Halloween, and when she’s old enough to trick-or-treat, Dad wants to accompany her dressed as a pirate.

Jennifer Olvera of the Vernon Hills Review also talked to Tony before Waukegan and got his take on the future of food writing for print (doomed by bloggers), social networking (“fame maintenance”), and the Chicago food scene. She also mentioned that he does have a new book coming out in 2010.


I couldn’t find the complete text, so I’m not sure if Bourdain actually wrote a full book review or just did a blurb for My Bread, a cookbook by a Manhattan baker named Jim Lahey.

I just found this 41-minute audio interview of Tony with Jeremy Shapiro of Stir the Pots from April 8, 2007, the day before Ariane was born. In those days, he was very supportive of bloggers — all bloggers — and the role we play in the Information Age.

A few months ago, Shapiro traveled to Turkey, where he missed Tony filming there, but he met Zenyo Gursës, a Turkish blogger who wrote about Bourdain’s visit for the local paper. If you can read Turkish, please let us know if he had any new insights. The article crashed Google Translation.

Bob from Winnipeg hasn’t checked in yet with the scoop from his visit to Les Halles last week, but we’ll post it as soon as he does.

Junk from Bourdain’s Alternate Universe

October 27, 2009

By Karen

Wendy of Room 214 has done her job well; reaction to Robo Chef is popping up on the blogosphere, most noticeably on what is apparently Bourdain’s new favorite blog, Grub Street.

Grub Street reported on Alternate Universe yesterday — a full 9 hours after Cats Working — and I’m wondering if it’s a coincidence that they happened to use the exact same title as my post (“Anthony Bourdain Gets Animated”).

Then Bourdain himself was right there with the very first comment, and then the third.

I’m feeling miffed.

And reading other bloggers’ reaction to the show is making me wonder if we all saw the same video. Eat Me Daily mentioned seeing Andrew Zimmern in a straitjacket. I didn’t. Anybody else? But I could see Tony having that fantasy.

Creative Loafing says Bourdain eats people’s brains, but it never happened, at least in Robo Chef. I think even Tony would balk at chowing down on Sandra Lee’s gray matter, even though it could be an amuse-bouche at best.

Blogger Veronica Belmont is the only one I’ve seen so far who obviously “gets” it.

Bourdain’s Alternate Universe: More Scoop

October 27, 2009

By Karen

After yesterday’s post, I received from Room 214 an e-mail about Anthony Bourdain’s Alternate Universe, his new animated Web series. (BTW, our friend Ingrid has apparently moved on because Wendy is my new contact there.)

Wendy provided me an “exclusive” peek at the first episode, Robo Chef. Well, exclusive to me and how ever many thousands of bloggers she’s penpals with. She made us swear an oath of secrecy (yeah, let’s see how long that holds), so I can’t let you view the episode, but I wouldn’t be giving away the farm to share a few impressions.

Bourdain plays a slightly-crazed Dr. Frankenstein type, working for the Cooking Channel. He’s a bit risqué and drops lots of names, delivering jabs equally to friends and foes. He must have had fun doing the voiceover.

The episode ends on a cliffhanger with Bourdain’s hair on fire.

My reaction overall? Meh. But I thought the animation was well-done (considering no one even attempts the fluidity of Loony Tunes anymore), and the humor has potential. It will only get better if they let Bourdain’s alter-ego totally off the leash.

Robo Chef premiers Monday, November 2, on the Travel Channel’s Web site, with 5 more episodes coming monthly.

Going cartoon is a weird turn for Tony’s career to take, but maybe it’s the Ariane influence. Here’s the teaser again, in case you missed it yesterday. It hints at “plots” to come that go far beyond Robo Cop and look like fun. I’ll be watching.

Anthony Bourdain Gets Animated

October 26, 2009

By Karen

Hard-core Bourdainiacs have a treat coming in 2010. The Travel Channel has announced a new 6-part animated Web series called Anthony Bourdain’s Alternate Universe. From the promo, I don’t think Tony will be letting Ariane watch cartoon Dad. Besides Rachael Ray and Sandra Lee’s pickled brains, was that Zamir taking a stake through the heart?

(Travel Channel)

(Travel Channel)

If you’ve ever wondered about Anthony Bourdain’s watch, it’s been identified as an Ernst Benz ChronoFlite World Timer, and he’s a lot smarter than I am if he’s figured out how to use it.

There’s been fallout from Bourdain’s October 13 Larry King Live appearance, where he defended meat-eaters. Fellow guest and Eating Animals author-turned-vegetarian, Jonathan Safran Foer, took exception to Bourdain’s comments, which Bourdain took exception to.

Grub Street also reported Foer’s comments. Bourdain retorts in the 7th comment down.

If you didn’t sit through the video last week, Hanna Wallace of The Faster Times quotes Bourdain’s pithiest comments to King.

Tony’s “I Call Bullshit” session at the New York City Wine and Food Festival with David Chang also reverberated, although not for anything Tony said. Chang dissed San Francisco cuisine, so the Asia Society there canceled a signing of Chang’s new cookbook, Momofuku. Bourdain took Chang’s side, and was quick to comment (3rd one down).

LA Eater has a bit more on Momofuku, with a photo of Tony and Chang dining on something snarly.

I went “Eek!” when I opened this page at Jaunted and saw Bourdain and Andrew Zimmern together. It’s official: they’re shills for Chase Sapphire. Whatever happened to Samantha Brown?

No surprise that Sardinia is now on Tony’s short list of favorite vacation spots. Somehow, I can totally see Zimmern loving DisneyWorld.

The Poughkeepsie Journal reports, with photo, that Tony lunched on a catfish taco at Mexicali Blue while filming his Hudson Valley installment of No Reservations.

The LA Times has the latest on the pending sale of the Travel Channel, and No Reservations is still the crown jewel.

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