Bourdain Flirts with His Final Frontier

February 12, 2014

By Karen

Anthony Bourdain’s final frontier is ocean travel. Sure, we’ve seen him chugging up fetid rivers, snorkeling, and catch a few stunt fish, but he’s never filmed an hour of TV on the ocean.

At the upcoming South Beach Wine and Food Festival, Anthony Bourdain is hosting “An Evening Aboard the S.S. Wolfsonian” with Azamara Club Cruises on February 21 at the Wolfsonian-FIU Museum. At $1,500 a plate, it’s already sold out, but the proceeds go to the Wolfsonian and the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, so it’s all for a good cause.

According to Azamara’s press release, this was Bourdain’s idea, and he got inspiration for dishes from the Wolfsonian ocean liner menu collection. He’ll be overseeing the dinner, prepared by Daniel Boulud, Eric Ripert, and other celebrity chefs.

Bourdain will share hosting duties with one of Azamara’s captains.

Didn’t Tony make at least one transatlantic crossing to France as a child, possibly on the Queen Mary? Unfortunately, true ocean liners have passed into history, and in his career as a globe-trotter, I’ve never heard Bourdain be anything but dismissive of today’s cruise industry.

Could that be about to change?

Azamara is a relatively unknown, more upscale brand of Royal Caribbean Cruises. Azamara has only 2 ships, and its sister lines most familiar to Americans are Royal Caribbean and Celebrity.

Azamara ships are smaller, and feature a casually elegant experience, with an English butler’s services available to suite passengers. Fares are higher, yet more inclusive than mass market lines (most alcohol is included), yet not as inclusive as top-tier lines like Crystal and Seabourn, who also throw in airfare and most shore excursions.

It’s far from the first time a cruise line has used a celebrity chef to embellish their brand. Jacques Pépin is executive culinary director for Oceania Cruises, another top-tier line.

Norwegian Cruise Line has adopted Cake Boss Buddy Valastro and Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian to design menus for its newest ships, Getaway and Breakaway.

And even Carnival has a celebrity chef — Guy Fieri. He’s perfect for the line that attracts the diners, dives, and drive-in set.

But I don’t see Bourdain planning Azamara’s menus. I see him as their spokesman.

Speaking of Carnival, who could ever forget Kathie Lee Gifford and Richard Simmons dancing on the decks, singing about “Fun Ships?”

If Azamara could get Bourdain to become the face of their more refined brand, he could potentially kick the whole industry’s reputation up a notch (well, not Carnival’s — he’s only human).

Bourdain could help the cruise industry shift the focus away from its ships being floating amusement parks, back to the time when a sea voyage was considered the most special way to visit exotic places.

I could see Royal Caribbean and Norwegian grabbing that life preserver, quickly following suit to distance themselves from the “Do Whatever — We Don’t Care” attitude they’ve foolishly promoted of late, to the detriment of their ships and their reputations.

But Azamara has one big hurdle ahead: They’ve got to get Bourdain on a ship.

I’d love to see a Parts Unknown episode filmed on Azamara. He’s always talking about wanting to make each episode unlike anything he’s ever done before. So…?

Wining and dining Bourdain is a good first move, Azamara. Keep it up.

Bourdain Flirts with Obsession

March 8, 2010

By Karen

Tonight’s new special episode of No Reservations is called “Obsessed.” Anthony Bourdain stays close to home again, flitting around New York pursuing the best beef, bread, fish, cheese, and tequila. He talks to several food bloggers and gets splattered with blood hacking up a pig. I’m guessing the gratuitous gross-out scene is intended for fans who think he’s gone soft.

Last week’s guinea pig scene in Ecuador was more “tasteful” than I expected, without any wholesale slaughter of trusting little fuzzy things. I would only suggest that Bourdain run a hand through his own coiffure du jour before calling anybody a “gel head.” Tony, you’ve been known to hit the product pretty hard yourself.

Tony talked at length about NR in a phone interview with

At the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, Bourdain was seated with Guy Fieri at a dinner honoring Daniel Boulud. From all reports, they were friendly, even though Fieri was a judge at Tony’s fish-cooking duel and proclaimed Eric Ripert’s dish the winner.

Here’s a video clip and some photos. Bourdain said he’s headed to Liberia next for NR.

You’ve got just 2 more weeks to hear Tony and Eric on their Sirius radio show, Turn & Burn, which airs on Thursdays from 7-8 p.m., then replays Monday at 4 and 7 p.m.

You can also catch Tony doing his doctor schtick on Yo Gabba Gabba on Wednesday, March 10. I’ll be watching to see if he dances with any of those creatures.

Food on Drunk thinks No Res has “run its course” and explains why.

The Traveling Fish has a much kinder, gentler perspective.

Cats Working reader MorganLF found on Food Network Humor that Bourdain was named among the “Top 10 Famous Foodies That Look Like Old Lesbians.”

Here’s more on the 25th anniversary party for D’Artagnan, and Tony comments on his good friend, Ariane Daguin.

If you’re interested, Celebrity Tattoos shows Bourdain’s body art up close and personal.

And after last week’s post on the skull tattoo, I found out from my unimpeachable source what daughter Ariane really thinks of it. She loves it! She’s into pirates these days. From ballet lessons to peg legs without missing a beat. You go, girl!

Bourdain’s on the Road Again

January 11, 2010

By Karen

Season 6 of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations begins tonight in Panama. I saw it online last week and exclaimed almost immediately, “WTF! He got another one??!!

I’m talking tattoo — BIG tattoo — right forearm. Then his left forearm. They kept appearing and disappearing, keeping my eyes glued to them.

Their presence was explained by the end of the episode, but they sure wreaked havoc on continuity.

Season 6’s promo theme is, “Which will it be? Nice Tony or Evil Tony?” Is that supposed to allay fears that Bourdain’s gone soft?

His Web site got a face-lift and they managed to reformat the episode schedule to make it utterly useless. (Thumbs up on the season recaps, though.)

On January 9, Tony spoke in Lowell, Mass. Cats Working reader Cindy found this pre-show phone interview. Tony’s appearing on Ariane’s favorite show, Yo Gabba Gabba.

The profane Anthony Bourdain doing children’s TV. What next? An F-bomb-spewing Vic Chanko puppet on Sesame Street?

Tony is in Calgary, Canada, on January 12. The Calgary Herald got an e-mail interview.

On the 13th, Bourdain’s speaking in Santa Rosa, California. The Press Democrat phoned him and Tony confided a “grudging respect” for — are you ready? — Guy Fieri. He also said they plan to shoot NR in Rome in black and white with subtitles, like a Fellini film.

This coming weekend, he’ll be barefoot on the sands of Seven Mile Beach at the Cayman Cookout, but apparently not before accepting his Person of the Year honor in San Francisco January 14 at the Tasty Awards, hob-nobbing with Meryl Streep, who won an Outstanding Performance award for her amazing portrayal of Julia Child.

The Daily Fork gave Tony only honorable mention on its annual list of sexiest culinary celebs, while the burger-blowing Padma Lakshmi from Top Chef made #5. Must be a guy thing.

Tony discussed his evolving fan base before his appearance in Lakeland, Florida, on January 8. I like to think he oh-so-obliquely acknowledged the existence of the Cats Working ladies.

Blog of New Orleans scored an advance interview before Bourdain’s January 7 appearance there and somehow managed to make it dull.

Tony was in Portland, Maine, January 2 – in a snowstorm – eating seafood for a NR episode set to air April 12.

Bangor Daily News reported Bourdain enjoying hot dogs and beans in Milo, hometown of crew member Zach. They said Tony’s next stop is Cuba.

I’ve got to quit now. His January travel schedule has my head spinning, and he’s still got a few more stops to make.

TasteTV Names Anthony Bourdain “Person of the Year”

December 7, 2009

By Karen

TasteTV is rolling out the red carpet for Anthony Bourdain. He’ll receive a special achievement award as “Person of the Year” at the 2010 Tasty Awards on January 14, 2010.

No Reservations was nominated for Best TV Food Program – competing with 30 Minute Meals, Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, Man v. Food, Gourmet’s Diary of a Foodie, and Top Chef. You can cast a Viewer’s Choice vote in that category.

No Res is also in the running for Best TV Food Travel Series, and Bourdain as Best Male Host in a Series.

No telling if Tony will be at the ceremony because the Cayman Cookout on Grand Cayman begins the same day.

When Bourdain was in Denver on November 18, he ate elk, wild boar, and reindeer hotdogs at Biker Jim’s sausage cart, proclaiming them the “pinnacle of American food.” He then bought and wore the T-shirt to his appearance and proceeded to diss New York City street food.

Commenters at Midtown Lunch responded to Bourdain’s blasphemy.

Tony also talked more trash about Guy Fieri, particularly his hair. Not sure if it’s the spikes or the color that inspire his ire.

And just to prove that Bourdain’s whining about there being nothing but chicken wings and fried mozzarella in Denver was unjustified, a special order of bacon-cashew brittle was delivered to his hotel.

Asian Foodie saw Tony with David Chang at the Union Square Barnes & Noble in New York on November 23. She found Chang dull, his constant cursing notwithstanding, and Tony tame (maybe in a mellow mood for Thanksgiving?). But he bad-mouthed New York City food AGAIN.

Joseph Bayot did a very thorough write-up on this appearance, well illustrated with shots of Bourdain’s spikeless new ‘do.

For every fan who goes sour on Bourdain, it seems there’s always a new one waiting in the wings. Things I Learned Watching TV has decided that Tony isn’t a douche after all and is now a NR devotée.

And Hey, Coach J admits she has a crush on Bourdain, even though she thinks he’s got terrible taste in clothes.

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