Bourdain Meets Tomas, Up Close & Personal

November 8, 2010

By Karen

Anthony Bourdain’s been busy making television. He returned from Cambodia in time for Halloween, and wife Ottavia tweeted that he became Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas to escort his daughter, Little Red Riding Hood.

Yet Tony claims he has no interest in “stretching his range” as an actor.

This past week, he flew to Haiti during a cholera epidemic to rendezvous with Hurricane Tomas, so we’ll probably see another breakout episode of No Reservations next season.

I think I smell an Emmy nomination…

I just hope Tony and his crew didn’t drink the water, stayed in one piece, and get home safely (tonight, according to Ottavia).

The HarperCollins Medium Raw essay contest wrapped with 1,949 entries. Michael P., a mover by profession, won for writing “Late Nights.” It only garnered 3 reader votes and was ranked #834 among all entries. None of the runners-up ranked lower than #383 in reader votes, and the first runner-up was #2.

The methodology would make you think the winner would have been #1 in reader votes, but that would have been a crock because many entrants campaigned online for votes, even if their essays were crap. So it’s no surprise that Bourdain’s people dug deeper into the pile for the winner.

But here’s the promo blurb for the essay, which I assume Michael P. also wrote:

On those late nights after moving you peoples stuff all over the city all I need is a home cooked meal and a beer.

When I saw that, I had a “WTF?” moment. No offense to Michael P. — he wrote about what he knew and from the heart — but I’m surprised the essay won because exactly one sentence in 300 words mentions food. It says…

The arroz con pollo is cooked perfectly and a small side of tostones is topped with a spicy pico de gallo.

But Michael P. sounds like Tony’s favorite kind of downtrodden working stiff, albeit not a kitchen slave, who will be truly grateful to win the $10K Bourdain personally pledged.

Just as Kitchen Confidential spawned a new genre of culinary tell-all, Bourdain’s upcoming graphic novel, Get Jiro!, is being credited with inspiring knockoffs even before its publication, like The Dirt Candy Cookbook.

Here’s an interesting post from Catalan Cooking, although only the opening and third-from-last paragraphs are about Bourdain. First, she calls Kitchen Confidential a male Eat, Pray, Love, and in relating a personal appearance anecdote near the end, says Bourdain has “a drawl.”

Yeah, just like Fran Drescher’s and Woody Allen’s.

Later this week, several Cats Working readers and I are having a personal brush with Bourdain at an evening of great food, the DC Capital Food Fight, hosted by Tony and José Andrés, with Eric Ripert and Tom Colicchio. Stay tuned…

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Did Bourdain Call Foodies Snobs?

October 18, 2010

By Karen

There’s little Anthony Bourdain buzz on the ‘Net lately. I haven’t seen any personal appearances since October 2 when he was at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe. After that, he turned up in Toronto for an extended stay, so I’ll stick my neck out and speculate that he’s working his day job, filming Season 7 of No Reservations.

2frugalfoodies, a couple in Virginia, briefly met Tony after his appearance in Fredericksburg, Virginia, on September 23, and they got an opportunity to eat at Les Halles in New York a few days later. Their server apparently told them Tony comes in about once a month, and sometimes cooks.

I’m going to stick my neck out again and say I think the server was joking, possibly sick of being asked about a guy who hasn’t worked there in a decade.

But one of the 2frugalfoodies raised a very interesting point he said Bourdain made, and which may influence his future posts. He summarized it so well, I’ll quote him rather than try to paraphrase…

“Among the many gems of wisdom, one of the points that really affected us was the idea that people who love food use it as a means to separate themselves from others. When we talk about going to a great restaurant, are we really sharing it because we love it, or because it makes us ‘more in the know,’ or somehow just a little bit classier than someone who hasn’t been? From sustainability to gourmet tasting menus, there’s a fine line between enthusiasm and snotty bragging.”

As a non-foodie who wouldn’t think to photograph my plate before I eat what’s on it, I appreciate the sentiment. It reminds me of something a friend once said: “Every great meal today is tomorrow’s bowel movement.”

This interview in Slate is dated May 31, 2010, but I don’t recall reading it, so pardon me if it’s a repeat. Kathryn Schulz talked to Bourdain at length about being wrong.

In early November, Bourdain’ chooses a favorite in the Medium Raw essay challenge. I think his next personal appearance is November 10 in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

On November 11, he heads to DC to team up with his buds Tom Colicchio and Eric Ripert for the Capital Food Fight to benefit the DC Central Kitchen, a cause he’s championed for several years. Then he’s scheduled for several more appearances, mostly along the East Coast, leading into Thanksgiving, and becomes scarce again until February 2011.


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