Bravo, Bourdain!

July 26, 2013

By Karen

I’ve been engrossed in a Dexter catch-up marathon, so I was watching people getting hacked to bits in the hours leading up to Anthony Bourdain’s debut as a talk show host, subbing for Piers Morgan.

Yet I was feeling a weird, elated anticipation at seeing Tony take on a new venue.

I don’t watch Morgan, and I was surprised to see a studio audience. But Tony’s personal appearance experience served him well and he didn’t let all those eyes in such close proximity rattle him. OK, his teleprompter reading seemed a tad stiff, but that’s a skill he’s never needed much.

I think I detected some underlying nervousness, and it was gratifying to watch him power through it.

First guests were David Carr from the New York Times and David Simon, whom Tony introduced only as creator of The Wire. Then I think he mumbled Simon was his boss on Treme, and Simon added he was Tony’s boss “too briefly.”

Somebody, tell me. Has the Treme gig ended? I don’t get HBO.

As they discussed legalizing drugs, I really appreciated Bourdain’s uncanny ability to know when to shut up and just listen.

He’s the Anti-Lauer.

Next topic was the NSA scandal and Edward Snowden. Tony neatly tied it to travel by asking, “Where would you rather spend the rest of your life? Venezuela or Russia?”

Simon said he’d never been to either country, so Tony offered, “Venezuela. You’ll eat much better there.”

That segment seemed a little uptight, with Tony reading pre-written questions, but at least he got the hard part out of the way first.

Then on came Tony’s besties, chefs Mario Batali and Eric Ripert. You could almost feel the room thaw.

I thought their assessment of whether the “hostile work environment” Paula Deen allegedly created in her restaurants was any worse than Gordon Ramsay’s behavior toward his staffs on TV (complete with video clip) took an excellent slant on that story.

Tony was totally in his element now, with no cue cards needed.

They also discussed Justin Bieber’s recent peeing into a restaurant kitchen mop bucket that had Tony up in arms on Twitter. Batali said he would “kick (Bieber’s) ass,” and Ripert pronounced it “drunk and stupid.”

Then they had a negroni, a concoction of Bombay gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari. Sounds disgusting to me, but I think of gin as liquefied Christmas tree.

Unfortunately, Batali and Ripert weren’t invited to the great cronut tasting. Tony brought out some guy from Grub Street and the cronut’s inventor, Dominique Ansel.

The audience got to taste a cronut and a DKA.

(Just Googled DKA. It’s “Dominique’s Kouign Amann,” a version of a Breton pastry that’s sort of a caramelized croissant. And Ansel’s website text has so many embarrassing mechanical errors, it SCREAMS for my day-job proofreading services.)

But anyway, Tony, who’s on record for hating sweets, had never tasted a cronut. He LOVED it, and the DKA. The audience was split, so no clear preference was established.

I’ve been thinking writing is his only fall-back for later career, but now I can see Bourdain hosting a talk show about travel and food (in that order). But not like The Chew. More sophisticated, geared to well-traveled viewers.

He’s got a quick, dry wit, and you never know what’s coming out of his mouth next. And he can harness the profanity. I don’t think he had to be bleeped once. He’s also got the inventiveness to take a done-to-death story like Paula Deen and turn it on its ear. Not to mention he’s not exactly hard on the eyes.

Bourdain, congratulations! Cats Working gives you 12 paws up. You hit this one out of the park, and we hope more opportunities like it start rolling in.


Bourdain Lands a Temp Talk Show Gig

July 23, 2013

By Karen

Piers Morgan is on a break from his CNN talk show this week and needed subs, so Anthony Bourdain, who has been showing his family the sights and tastes of Tokyo, is returning to take over the chair Thursday, July 25, at 9 p.m. ET.

This isn’t Tony’s first time hosting a talk show, but it’s been 5 years. The first time was a sort of trial balloon he launched for Travel Channel back in 2008 called At the Table.

Anyway, it did not go as well as hoped; video of it quickly disappeared from YouTube, and the experiment was never repeated.

This time out, it seems Tony will be remaining within his comfort zone. Or perhaps CNN required him to supply his own guests.

He’s tweeted he’ll be host to David Simon (Treme co-creator), David Carr (New York Times media and culture columnist), and always-fun celebrity-chef pals Eric Ripert and Mario Batali. One major topic of discussion will be Cronuts™. reports that Cronuts™ creator Chef Dominique Ansel will also be on hand, and there will be a “DKA vs. Cronut™” taste-off. (I have no idea what a “DKA” is.)

FYI, a Cronut™ is a hybrid croissant-doughnut fried in grapeseed oil, with flaky layers and cream inside, and a glazed-doughnut exterior.

Just putting this out there for any Bourdainiacs who care to tune in. I know I will.


Bourdain in Travel Channel Home Stretch

September 10, 2012

By Karen

I’ve lost count of No Reservations’ seasons. Some are calling the current new episodes Season 9. According to my DVD recordings, it’s part 2 of Season 8. But if you count how Travel Channel lopped Season 7 into two last year, this would be Season 10.

Anyway, in the opener, Tony visited Austin, TX, where, in addition to the world’s best barbecue, he seemed to be in search of that elusive, probably mythical, demographic — young males who prefer food porn to the usual type, enjoy hanging out with 50-something-old dudes, and who think anybody who makes noise on an instrument and screams incoherently is playing “music.”

About 10 minutes in, I found myself stealing glances at the clock to see how much longer I had to suffer (I was taping it). As it turns out, I was in good company with the New York Times.

So it didn’t float my boat to watch Bourdain play rock band groupie, eat BBQ, and deface himself again with yet another tat (not a gargoyle or a tarantula, as you might expect, but a cute little sun on his left forearm). But I still have high hopes for whatever’s left of NR.

Here are a few other things I’ve collected…

On August 15, Tony did a live “hangout” on Zagat’s Google+ page where he answered fan questions.

In November, Tony’s road show morphs into the “Guts and Glory Tour,” with supposedly fresh material. He’s even got a new logo and it has an official site.

I’m idly toying with catching it when he goes to Baltimore.

Tony’s appearances with Eric Ripert as “Good vs. Evil” also have their own site.

Now, here’s a mystery…

Some weeks ago, a blogger named Colman Andrews with The Daily Meal cruelly trashed Marilyn Hagerty in a column titled, “Does Anyone Get the Joke?” — you remember Marilyn, that nice lady from Grand Forks whose unabashed admiration for Olive Garden earned her a book deal with Bourdain’s imprint.

Bourdain quickly struck back at Andrews on Twitter, claiming that Hagerty’s book will be “an extraordinary and beautiful thing.”

I didn’t totally disagree with Andrews. Bourdain undoubtedly believes that exhuming Hagerty’s work to enlighten us all on what “the heartland” ate 30 years ago is a noble quest. His name will probably appear on the book’s cover larger than Hagerty’s to drive initial sales — and then the book will sink like a stone.

Bourdain told Zagat in August he’s perused about half of Hagerty’s oeuvre of 7,500 pages, searching for the gems he’ll publish.

Better him than me.

And finally, from the Tony’s Friends Dept…

As it turns out, Zamir’s not a shiftless deadbeat Tony found in a Russian gutter, but an accomplished documentary filmmaker. Who knew?

Eric Ripert’s latest On the Table interview featured Mario Batali.

Bourdain Gets Another Tasty Nomination

December 13, 2010

By Karen

The Tasty Awards released their last dribble of award nominees, and Anthony Bourdain’s up for “Best Male Host of a Series” category, so be sure to vote. (No Reservations also got 2 nominations). His competitors are Tom Colicchio, Eric Ripert, Andrew Zimmern (whose Bizarre Foods is nominated for “Best Comedy Series” — go figure), and just about every other guy who shares a show with food.

Top Chef’s Padma Laksmi is among the gazillion nominees for Best Female Host, so that should give you some clue as to what a distinguished honor this is.

Speaking of Top Chef, Bourdain didn’t judge week 2, when Eric Ripert’s employee, Jennifer Carroll, got sent home. I think I skipped Season 6, so I have no idea if Jen has always been so smug and arrogant, but my reaction to her elimination was, “Don’t let the door hit you in the ass,” thanks to the attitude she’s shown this season.

But in fairness, here’s her exit interview with the Chicago Tribune. I have no doubt the episode was cut to make her come off looking super-bitchy, but she did provide the footage.

With that elimination challenge, the show crossed the line into gratuitous torture. There was absolutely ZERO need to allow the cheftestants almost no sleep before they had to mass-produce breakfast at 7 a.m. for a mob of kids. It ain’t Survivor.

What’s still unclear to me is if Team T-Rex had access to any seasonings beyond salt and pepper. It was mentioned they couldn’t use herbs. So sending Jen home for under-seasoned eggs could have been bullsh*t.

Bourdain blogged his opinion. According to the promo, he should be back at the Judges’ Table this week.

Sifu Renka snapped a nice photo of Tony when he was in Toronto. (Scroll down to the bottom.)

In case you missed last week’s No Reservations holiday special with Michael Ruhlman, Eater captured the best lines. And Gawker provides this clip of what’s become the standard gratuitous raw meat scene that sent me into another room until it was over.

December 7, Tony and Ottavia attended a party in the Empire State Building to help Mario Batali launch the Culinary Council, which will help the Food Bank of New York City fight hunger there.

Eater also reports that Helen Cho is the new resident social networking guru for Zero Point Zero Production, and she actually works with the crew, which means the No Res tweets and Facebook page may actually have something other than impersonal 3rd-party hype like we bloggers are supplied from Room 214.

Huffington Post just got around to putting up some video of Bourdain and Ripert spouting opinions while they were taping their Turn and Burn Sirius radio show.

American Thinker bemoans the “Ramsayization of Society” and uses Bourdain’s regular use of the word suck to appeal to a more youth demographic to make the tongue-in-cheek point that Jonathan Swift could have penned bestsellers  if he’d done likewise, and illustrates with a ludicrously “Bourdainized” passage from A Modest Proposal.

Bourdain & Vietnam: Together Again

March 29, 2010

By Karen

Anthony Bourdain travels to Vietnam — is this the 3rd or 4th time? — in a new episode of No Reservations tonight. Wendy at Room 214 didn’t mention any house-hunting in her preview e-mail, but did say that Tony noted 70% of Hanoi’s population is under age 30.

I have a sneaking suspicion he’s quietly abandoned his dream of living there, especially now that Ariane is getting older and undoubtedly growing some roots in New York.

This episode seems heavy on bugs, and Tony channels Andrew Zimmern in the promo. He’s also apparently tricked into eating Java-Mouse deer.

Hey, I just realized we haven’t seen Tony whip out his Chase Sapphire card in quite a while. Could widespread fan derision have delivered him from that silliness?

Tony and Eric Ripert have wrapped up their Sirius radio program, Turn & Burn, but bits of it are hitting YouTube. Hear what happens after Tony reads Ruth Reichl’s tweets in what was apparently a regular feature called “The Tao of Ruth.” Eric reads a few tweets by the mysterious “Ruth Bourdain.”

Here’s a video clip of Bourdain and Ripert talking about Ruth Reichl’s tweets with Mario Batali.

Bourdain’s getting closer to Richmond with an appearance at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, VA, on September 23. That’s only about 90 minutes north of here.

Entertainment Daily found out a bit about what Tony’s been up to in India. He’s got to be back in the States sometime this week because he has a speaking gig in Austin, Texas, on April 1.

Bourdain Does Kiddie TV

February 22, 2010

By Karen

Perhaps as an early birthday present to daughter Ariane, on March 10, Anthony Bourdain guests on Yo Gabba Gabba as Doctor Tony. If you needed any proof that fatherhood can unhinge a guy, watch this:

I tried to watch Yo Gabba Gabba some time ago when Bourdain first mentioned it as a favorite, and it had me screaming for mercy after about 10 minutes.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette did a phone interview with Bourdain recently and printed the highlights, but there’s a link on the page to the whole 15-minute audio version.

Tony and Eric visited Martha Stewart’s TV show on February 16 to promote their new Sirius radio show, Turn & Burn, which premiered on the 18th, and to prepare coq au vin.

Cats Working reader Cindy provided a link to the highlights of their first gab-fest, with guest Mario Batali. I wish I got Sirius!

Dicey Venison writes about his/her “better half’s” weird brief encounter during the Q&A at Tony’s Milwaukee appearance on January 22.

MSN TV got some good Raw Talk with Tony, and then almost ruined it with WAY too much clicking required — quelle agonie! (Sorry, I just watched Breakfast at Tiffany’s). Thanks, MSN!

Tony does mention that he likes Samantha Brown, describing her as “nice, and not painfully sweet.” I always wondered about that.

Bourdain Postponing Vietnam Again?

October 6, 2009

By Karen

Cats Working reader Cindy provided a link to this Wall Street Journal article where Anthony Bourdain said he earns the bulk of his income these days making personal appearances, and that he plans to do 40 in 2010. So if you haven’t seen him in person yet, your chance may be coming soon.

I think his next book, Cooks, is due to come out next year. Shooting No Reservations, promoting a new book, and doing his Evening with schtick doesn’t seem to leave time to move his family to Vietnam without leaving them there alone most of the time.

Dana of The Traveling McMahans had a chance encounter with Bourdain in the airport leaving Louisville after he appeared at the IdeaFestival on September 25. She got an autograph and a glimpse at what Tony can be like when he’s not “on.” Unfortunately, he didn’t fare too well in comparison to the gracious travel guru Arthur Frommer, whom Dana interviewed one-on-one before attending Bourdain’s talk.

An independent account of Bourdain at the IdeaFestival reveals that he’s apparently forgotten the fallout over his conversation about fat people with Ted Nugent because they’re now part of the act, and not in a good way, it seems.

I can’t remember if I’ve ever linked before to this interview with Chow from November 2007, but I don’t recall seeing it. In hindsight, it’s interesting to read about Tony’s decision to hang up the leather jacket (which didn’t last too long) and plans to do a Travel Channel series in Italy with Mario Batali that has yet to materialize. He also calls the Tuscany episode (where we got our first glimpses of Ottavia but didn’t know it) the “most fun show to do ever.”

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