Catching Up with Bourdain

May 26, 2015

By Karen

It’s impossible to “catch up” with Anthony Bourdain anymore. He’s always going at full steam in a dozen directions, but these are some noteworthy developments I’ve been tracking.

We’re mid-season with Parts Unknown on CNN. I particularly enjoyed Miami. I’ve been there a few dozen times, and did a double-take upon seeing our paths virtually cross for a split second when he flashed the Colony Hotel’s Art Deco façade. I stayed there in October.

Back in Tony’s Travel Channel days, you’d never imagine him becoming comedy fodder for the likes of Billy Crystal. But a recent episode of The Comedians on FX began with a parody called Unknown Parts, with Crystal strolling around in a silver wig, and then tasting several courses of human testicles, which all caused him to projectile vomit onto his co-star.

And then Tony popped up on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver in a shot of his younger self out in some wilderness, saying armadillo tastes like chicken.

Speaking of popping up, something that has pooped out is a fourth season of The Taste on ABC. Not even Bourdain’s Emmy nomination as best host could save it.

I’ve always said the premise of cramming one meal onto a spoon was ridiculous, and the dwindling audience apparently agreed. It was the culinary equivalent of Dancing with the Stars staging all routines in a phone booth, or forcing aspiring American Idols to sing into an empty mayonnaise jar instead of a mic.

If The Taste accomplished anything, it was to give Nigella Lawson refuge and camaraderie while she was going through a personal nightmare. And it spawned worldwide franchises that may very well keep it a nice income stream for years to come.

Coming up June 2, Bourdain will be inducted in the RealScreen Awards Hall of Fame in Santa Monica as Person of the Year. Parts Unknown is nominated for a Critics’ Choice Award for Best Reality Series, and Tony for Best Reality Series Host. A&E is supposed to broadcast the awards live May 31.

Boudain hits the road July 7 for a 10-city personal appearance tour called Close to the Bone. Unfortunately, he’s coming nowhere near these parts. (I’m waiting for Tony to get wind of Richmond’s growing reputation as the newest foodie utopia and drop by for a few bites.)

And then there’s literary Bourdain. Still no word on the novel, but October 20 he’s got a prequel to his graphic novel, Get Jiro!, coming out. It’s called, Get Jiro: Blood & Sushi.

In addition, he’s co-authoring with Lauri Woolover a new cookbook called Appetites to be published by Ecco imprint in fall 2016. It sounds more down-to-earth than the French recipes and techniques he covered in the Les Halles Cookbook.

Speaking of Les Halles (as in, the market in Paris), Bourdain’s vision of a vast American counterpart in New York City took another step toward reality, after many months of speculation.

Bourdain Market will reputedly occupy 100,000 square feet (double the size of Mario Batali’s Eataly) in a new facility being constructed in the Meatpacking District on the Upper West Side at West 15th Street, Pier 57, on the Hudson River.

Here’s an excerpt from the linked Commercial Observer article…

Stephen Werther, Mr. Bourdain’s business partner, said that the food hall will ‘include a farmers market with an oyster bar, bakery, tapas bar and much more,’ according to Eater. It will house 100 vendors – some permanent, some for a few weeks at a time – and will include a rooftop beer garden.

The new food court will cost between $20 million and $30 million to build, Eater indicated.

‘We will work with the tourism boards to create a complete experience of the place. Not just prepared food or packaged food but serving ware, cookware, cookbooks, cooking demos, everything to promote the area,’ Eater quotes Mr. Werther as saying.

It sounds like a place where you could easily lose yourself for a weekend.

And, finally, in spite of the utter contempt he’s always shown toward the James Beard Awards, Bourdain’s series, Mind of a Chef, won for Best On-Location Food Program for the 3rd straight year.

If there’s one thing nobody can ever accuse Anthony Bourdain of, it’s being lazy.


Bourdain and ZPZ Finally Get Some Glory

July 15, 2014

By Karen

I seldom post about Anthony Bourdain anymore, but I’m still a fan. The man keeps his fingers in so many pies, it’s hard to keep up. I said a while ago that he’d hit critical mass and his success keeps snowballing, and there seems to be no stopping him now. We hardcore Cats Working Bourdainiacs can simply sigh and say, “We knew him when life was simple.”

Just off the top of my head, he’s got all this going in, in addition to Parts Unknown.

  • The Taste has been picked up by ABC for a third season and it’s casting now.
  • Mind of a Chef, which Tony writes for and narrates, starts its third season on PBS in September.
  • Parts Unknown has been renewed by CNN for THREE more seasons.
  • Bourdain’s planning to open a massive international street food emporium in NYC.
  • His Ecco imprint is publishing an eclectic variety of books.
  • Get Jiro! the graphic novel is getting a prequel (I’m waiting for that crime novel he’s been working on for years.)
  • Zero Point Zero is producing a new for John Walsh so he can continue to catch bad guys.
  • Tony has taken up MMA and trains at Ottavia’s studio.
  • Daughter Ariane turned 7 in April (seems like only yesterday he posed for a calendar holding her in one hand like a football).

Variety reported in May that Parts Unknown Season 3 initial ratings were down, but that didn’t prevent the recognitions from rolling in.

In May alone, Tony won a Voices of Courage and Conscience in media award by the Muslim Public Affairs Council for Parts Unknown Palestine. Here’s his acceptance speech.

Then Parts Unknown won a Peabody Award. Here’s a video of Tony talking about success.

This month, Tony and his ZPZ team got SEVEN Emmy nominations. Here are the categories and who he’s up against, in order by which I’m most eager to see him win…

Outstanding Writing for Nonfiction Programming

  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown
  • COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey
  • JFK (American Experience)
  • The World Wars
  • Years of Living Dangerously

Outstanding Informational Series or Special

  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown
  • Inside the Actors Studio
  • The Writers’ Room
  • Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman
  • Vice

OK, this next one has me scratching my head, but Tony’s long overdue for personal Emmy recognition, so I hope he gets it…

Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program

  • Anthony Bourdain, Host, The Taste
  • Betty White, Host, Off Their Rockers
  • Tom Bergeron, Host, Dancing With The Stars
  • Jane Lynch, Host, Hollywood Game Night
  • Heidi Klum & Tim Gunn, Co-Hosts, Project Runway
  • Cat Deeley, Host, So You Think You Can Dance

And the rest are for the ZPZ team…

Outstanding Cinematography for Nonfiction Programming

  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown Punjab
  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown Tokyo
  • COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey
  • The Square
  • Vice

Outstanding Picture Editing for Nonfiction Programming

  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown Tokyo
  • American Masters
  • COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey
  • The Sixties: The Assassination of President Kennedy
  • The Square

Outstanding Sound Editing for Nonfiction Programming (Single Camera)

  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown Punjab
  • COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey
  • The Amazing Race
  • The World Wars
  • Vice

Outstanding Sound Mixing for Nonfiction Programming

  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown Tokyo
  • American Masters
  • COSMOS: A SpaceTime Odyssey
  • Deadliest Catch
  • The Amazing Race

BONUS: Here’s an interesting interview Tony did with Smithsonian Magazine in June (and you know I don’t say that unless it covers some new ground).

Cats Working gives Tony three tails up and has all paws crossed for an Emmy sweep this year. There are two ceremonies, August 16 for Creative Arts, and August 25 for Primetime, and I’m not sure which will be his (maybe both).

Good luck, Bourdain. You’ve earned it!


Ottavia Bourdain Incites ‘Steakgate’ in Vegas

July 19, 2012

By Karen

But first… Congratulations to Anthony Bourdain and No Reservations on 4 Emmy nominations. I didn’t notice any other Travel Channel blockbusters on the nominees list; they must be eating their hearts out at TC about Tony’s defection to CNN. The categories are:

  • Outstanding Nonfiction Series
  • Outstanding Writing – Cuba
  • Outstanding Cinematography – Mozambique
  • Outstanding Picture Editing – U.S. Desert

Back to Ottavia’s brouhaha… It all started when Grub Street innocently published her “week in the life of” guest blog post. What that woman eats is mind-boggling, but it was her description of a bad steak in an unnamed restaurant in Las Vegas while attending a UFC event with her husband that lit up the ‘Net.

So this guy named John Curtas rebuked Ottavia’s unsophisticated palate in his column at Eating Las Vegas, and Tony leaped to his wife’s defense on Twitter, calling the column “idiotic” and “based on a false premise” (which was where they stayed, which supposedly housed the offending restaurant) — and Tony even stooped to spelling the columnist’s name “Curtass.”

The foodie world went into overdrive trying to ascertain the chef, throwing names around that included Tony’s pal, Mario Batali. But finally the culprit revealed himself to be Charlie Palmer. Since Ottavia didn’t send the steak back, Palmer rued being unable to make things right on the spot and apologized.

On the other hand, you have to appreciate Ottavia’s dilemma. Sitting there with the well-recognized Bourdain, she either had to choke down that steak or earn herself the reputation of being Tony’s picky-eater-bitch-wife.

Personally, I think she took the high road. There’s no sin in describing a bad meal, yet much virtue in concealing who prepared it if the intent isn’t to slam the chef.

And there’s nothing more amusing than watching foodies work themselves into a lather over a freaking steak, how it was cooked, and who cooked it. If the words “GET A LIFE!” have any significant context, this is it.

Moving on to the must-see Web TV department…

Eric Ripert has a new web series, On the Table, on the Reserve Channel, and Tony was his first guest. Without a doubt, it’s the most candid, natural, and informative interview I’ve ever seen Bourdain do. Eric knows Tony so well, he provided the perfect atmosphere (they cooked together in a home-like kitchen), asked the right questions to get Tony on new ground, and provides a bit of commentary on his best friend. It’s in 3 parts for about 22 minutes.

As a sidebar, talking to Grub Street with Eric about that show, Tony revealed that Ariane is a big Katie Perry fan and has a crush on Ripert’s son, among other things.

Other news…

If you’re interested in Get Jiro! (which took the No. 1 spot on the NY Times Bestseller List for graphic novels), Tony talked to MTVGeek about it at San Diego Comic-Con recently.

Here’s another Comic-Con interview.

July 30-Aug. 5, Bourdain will be hosting “Mob Week” movies on AMC in prime time.

Treme Season 3 begins September 23 with 10 episodes, and Tony is back, writing the New Orleans restaurant subplot for Janette.

And if owning one copy isn’t enough for you, a new edition of Kitchen Confidential is coming out this fall, with Bourdain’s handwritten margin updates.


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.


Trying to Keep Up with Bourdain

June 18, 2012

By Karen

After so many years of following him as relatively obscure, niche cable star, with Cats Working the worldwide destination for the scoop long before he became a fixture at Eater and Grub Street, it’s gratifying to see Anthony Bourdain finally reach critical mass. Lately, it seems, you can’t swing a cat without hitting him.

I must be recovering from my Bourdain overload, because I must confess that all his new endeavors are piquing my curiosity like a fresh catnip mouse.

Once again, Travel Channel has suspended No Reservations in mid-season, but Tony’s kept himself busy shooting The Layover (in Paris and Dublin he’s tweeted — Yes!!) and making the media rounds to talk up his new shows on CNN and ABC (both of which are still unnamed) and his upcoming graphic novel, Get Jiro!, in general release July 3.

Before I again make the mistake of letting some good links stack up and go stale, here are my latest for whatever Bourdainiac readers I have left…

Tony wrote an extremely uncharacteristic and personal guest blog for Bon Appetit about his father’s influence on him. Pierre Bourdain died of a heart attack at age 57 (Tony will be 56 on June 25). It’s illustrated by many new-to-us childhood photos, courtesy of Tony’s mother Gladys.

Bloody Elbow got a lengthy interview with Tony and Ottavia, published as part 1 and part 2. We learn that one of Ottavia’s favorite snacks is tuna packed in oil with pickled onions. Lupetto the cat probably can’t begin to compete with her tuna breath.

Tony reveals in this interview that he and I basically agree on NYC Mayor Bloomberg’s attempt to ban enormous sodas, and for the same reasons.

Tony did a personal appearance on June 9 in Brooklyn, and Food Republic captured the highlights. I learned that Paula Deen’s also a shill for Serta mattresses. Who knew, and why? Maybe they lured her in with their “soy-infused poly foam core,” which sounds like a concoction from Top Chef.

In case you missed Tony talking to Jimmy Fallon on June 8, here’s the video. Fallon completely overlooked the latest-breaking news that day, which was Bourdain’s ABC show with Nigella Lawson, and Tony didn’t bring it up.

And last, Tony talked to the NY Times about his gigs on CNN and ABC and publication of the graphic novel all hitting at the same time.


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.


Catching Up with Bourdain

December 9, 2011

By Karen

With three shows running simultaneously, it’s pretty hard to keep up with Anthony Bourdain these days.

The Layover seems to gain strength with each new episode. I haven’t seen Rome yet (taped it, but waiting for it On Demand — hint, hint Travel Channel! — so I don’t have to waste time skirting commercials), but if the one-liners quoted by Eater.com are any indication, Tony let his snarky inner child out to play and it should be fun.

The No Reservations Christmas special is supposed to air Monday, December 12, at 10 p.m. ET on Travel Channel. Tony blogged about the cast, and it’s a smorgasbord.

The ZPZ team created a great short called, “A Krampas Carol,” written by Tony that, apparently, Travel Channel nixed. Thank God for YouTube:

Right before the special is a new Layover in Miami at 9 p.m. I’m really looking forward to this one because I’ve visited Miami many, many times.

But that’s only 2 shows. What gives?

The Cooking Channel is airing Tony’s first series, A Cook’s Tour, on random Tuesday nights at 9:30 p.m. You have to be vigilant to catch it, but it’s well worth it. Recently I caught Tony on his first trip to Cambodia, complete with earring, thumb ring, cigarettes, and less gray hair. He sampled his first durian and climbed up some temple wearing a camera around his neck — like a tourist — and it wasn’t meant to be sarcastic.

Seeing pre-jaded Bourdain reminds me why he first captured my attention.

Some other trinkets I’ve collected…

At the DC Food Fight in November, Tony was interviewed backstage by The Daily Caller. He seems a bit “under the influence” and gets drawn into Washington’s favorite topic — politics — giving his take on the Republican field and how he leans.

Tony appeared on Fox News with Thanksgiving travel tips. FOX??!!!

There was a really good article in The New York Observer about how Bourdain became a writer.

If you missed Tony’s recent cameo on The Simpsons, here it is.

AV Club got a candid interview (sans a lot of the usual canned stuff) with Tony.

Fans of Treme will be happy to hear that Season 3 is in production, and Tony talked to David Simon.

Before their appearance in Portland, Maine, on November 3, Tony and Eric Ripert drank champagne with two guys who have a local called FoodComaTV.

Tony answered a series of short questions for The Independent (UK), and summed up his life in six words: “He wasn’t such a bad bastard.” I learned from this article that he bought the first car of his life not too long ago — BMW.

There’s a very weird “addiction report card” on Bourdain at Psychology Today, written by someone assessing him only by his TV persona and Wikipedia entry.

For those who think Bourdain is all about Bourdain, he’s sky-driving to raise money for the Food Bank of NYC, luring tandem companions who will pay $10K a head to make the jump with him.

Tony’s occasional Russian sidekick, Zamir, recently opened a Twitter account at @ZamirGotta.

Coming up…

Tony’s 160-page graphic novel, Get Jiro!, is now supposed to be released in June 2012.

Travel Channel renewed No Res for an 8th season. From Tony’s tweets, it sounded as if they didn’t tell him directly, but he’s already filming anyway. But he’s the type who would say, “It’s always easier to beg forgiveness than to ask permission.”


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