Bourdain Wows Richmond

April 24, 2013

By Karen

Anthony Bourdain brought Guts & Glory to Richmond, Va., on April 23 and succeeded in — or came close to — filling the 3,565-seat Landmark Theater. They loved him.

But the custom for every live performance here is to start at least 15 minutes late. Then 15 minutes into Tony’s talk, stragglers were still groping their way over everyone to find their seats in the dark. And no sooner were they seated than they started clambering back out to visit the head or buy drinks.

In Richmond, a warm body on stage gets no more courtesy than a movie at the Regal Cinema.

Regardless, Bourdain was in top form. In faded jeans, an untucked shirt under a gray jacket, and those beige shoes we’ve seen him roam the world in, he commanded the stage with a bottle of Virginia’s Full Nelson beer and a clicker to show the photos and film clips that punctuated his talk.

He opened with his recent Paula Dean kerfuffle. After seeing a picture of Mario Batali kissing Dean, Tony concluded that “integrity is overrated” and he’s a hypocrite himself in many ways, so Tony proposed his own line of merchandise, including an Anthony Bourdain action figure that weirdly looks just like Eric Ripert.

The rest of his talk rested on the framework of what it takes to work with or for him. I won’t give away his outline, but you’ve seen all the principles on No Reservations.

As endearing and thoroughly entertaining as he was, he didn’t cover much new ground for me or regular Cats Working readers. He indulged in a few Lewis Black-like rages. He’s a bluntly passionate advocate for Americans to broaden their culinary horizons, which he sums up in two words…

Food matters.

He ripped into vegetarians and vegans by observing that their lifestyle is possible only in the developed world because we have so many options, compared to poor countries where people are meat-free involuntarily. So if they offer you a dish they rarely get to eat themselves, you’d be “rude” and “incurious” not to accept.

He said he doesn’t go to Russia often because he can’t keep up with, of all things, the drinking. In a typical day, he averages 30-40 vodka shots, beginning at breakfast.

His extensive travel has bred a life-changing sense of “moral relativism” in him, where he frequently gives a pass to people with differing world views he’d ordinarily have nothing to do with. As a result, he gets complaints from “Couch Rambos” who accuse him of not defending America.

He ended with some unabashed gushing about fatherhood and his daughter, especially her more sophisticated food choices.

The Q&A was brief and added nothing. His last answer included a somewhat embarrassed allusion to The Taste (without naming it), then he abruptly wrapped up and left the stage.

The VIP reception afterward (don’t ask) in the ballroom was packed. Tony got hustled past the buffet of gourmet hors d’oeuvres (tuna tartare, anyone?) to a table for the inevitable book-signing, and he probably cringed at the line of several hundred that snaked around the room. We only got a quick few seconds of face time. I brought his 2001 biography, Typhoid Mary, for an autograph, and I’m betting it was the only one of that title he signed all night.

I told him we think he’s doing good work with Parts Unknown, and he replied he’s very happy and it’s the best working arrangement he’s ever had.

Bonus…

Here’s his interview with Buffalo News where he talks about The Taste and future seasons of Mind of a Chef.

Correction: Marilyn Hagerty’s book under Tony’s imprint, Grand Forks, comes out August 27. I made the snide prediction that his name would be more prominent on the cover than hers, but I was wrong (and I really knew if he had anything to do with it, he’d never try to steal an old lady’s thunder). Bourdain calls the book an “antidote to snark.”

If you haven’t read Tony’s graphic novel, Get Jiro! yet, it’s out in paperback May 7.

He holds up well after a very long night.

He holds up well after a very long night.

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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 Coming to Richmond – At Last

November 13, 2012

By Karen

My eyes boinged out of their sockets this morning at the news Anthony Bourdain is finally — FINALLY! — coming to Richmond. He’s gracing us with his Guts & Glory at the newly-renovated Landmark Theater April 23, 2013.

I can hardly wait.

Moving on to chocolate, the rumor of Bourdain taking the merchandising plunge — with Eric Ripert — is true. Their Good & Evil bar hit the market November 9.

Last April, Eric hacked his way through the jungles of Peru with Pennsylvania chocolatier Christopher Curtin to reach rare trees that produce cacao beans long believed extinct, and he helped harvest them.

The result is a delicacy that’s 72% cacao, weighs 2.6 ounces, and retails for $18. Each.

If anybody splurges and orders one, please let us 99-Percenters know if you could detect its dark cherry notes.

A blogger at The New Yorker recently ripped Tony a new one for his very existence, accusing him of “brutishness” and leaving a “crude hickey on food culture.” Tony shot back promptly in the third comment. He must get Google alerts on himself.

As you probably know, No Reservations wrapped forever with Tony’s visit to Brooklyn. Especially poignant was the thought that his locales may have been doomed by Hurricane Sandy. (I wondered what happened to one man’s collection of vintage cars? And will Zamir follow Tony to CNN?)

Bourdain blogged what he considers his best and worst episodes of No Res. I have to agree that Rome, even in black and white, sticks in my mind. Tony in suit and tie tooling around with Ottavia glammed up like Sophia Hepburn was so Roman Holiday.

His remaining Travel Channel series, The Layover, debuts its second (and last) season November 19. I’m waiting to see to what new lows TC will sink to stretch the illusion of a Bourdain association.

But maybe they won’t be sorry to see the last of Tony after his cuss-filled Twitter tirade when they secretly spliced gratuitous shots of Cadillacs into Brooklyn show promo, making it look like his endorsement.

It took me right back to the days they had him flash a Chase Sapphire card to pay for his meals in exotic places.

UPDATE: Just discovered that Tony blogged at length about the Cadillac incident. He’s STILL pissed with Travel Channel, and rightly so, by the sound of it.

Travel Channel is such a clusterfuck on so many levels, you have to give them credit for creative underhandedness in advertising. I just realized they recently started duplicating episodes out on Verizon On Demand to trick hapless viewers into watching the longer one laced with commercials.

Almost forgot… I caught the first 4 half-hour episodes of Tony’s PBS series, The Mind of a Chef, starring David Chang. It came on at 2 a.m. here. Thanks to Bourdain, I’ve got this obsession with finding the perfect noodle, and that’s what the first episode was about. I didn’t expect the series to hold my attention, but it totally did. Highly recommend it.

And finally, Tony’s still writing for the HBO series Treme, and did a scene for Emeril Lagasse that reveals him in a light (and with a mouth) you’ve probably never seen before.

UPDATE: This will teach me not to read Twitter before I post. Bourdain’s new CNN series is called Parts Unknown. I like that. Here’s the promo.


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