Bourdain Finally Reaches Cuba

March 14, 2011

By Karen

Anthony Bourdain tweeted last week that he was finally heading to Cuba to film No Reservations, but there’s no word on whether Zamir was included.

Speaking of tweets, Travel Channel is ecstatic  that Tony has acquired the habit. Apparently, NR in Haiti drew the biggest audience ever, and his live tweets sparked “hundreds of thousands” in return.

Tony tweeted again (presumably from Cuba) during the Cambodia episode, and now TC is all hot to get their other hosts tweeting. Now I think I know what happened to Room214. Why would TC pay some disinterested third party for social media buzz when they’ve got the talent generating it themselves?

And Tony’s expanding viewership in spite of TC’s noticeable lack of on-air advertising leading up to the season must have them feeling pretty cocky.

Eater compiled the Cambodian Quotable Bourdain, much of it centering on the bad haircut scene.

But herein lies the conundrum: Yes, it was nice to know Tony was watching the show with us and commenting but. objectively, his tweets didn’t really add all that much. What could he say? If he felt he did a good job on that episode, he probably thought it should have spoken for itself (and it did). Having him type, “Yeah, that was really tough to film,” or whatever in real time was superfluous.

Now if some host’s tweets really enhance the viewing experience a lot, then the show itself is probably crap because they obviously withheld the best stuff for Twitter. So why tune in at all if the show is only going be white noise to our tweet-reading?

Tonight, Tony visits Nicaragua and dines on braised iguana and fried bull testicles.

Remember the Rust Belt episode last season where Tony hung out in Baltimore with one of his idols, Snoop from The Wire? Snoop got arrested last week in a big heroin/marijuana sting.

Tony’s latest blog post is about the recent South Beach Wine & Food Festival, where he and Ottavia got matching tattoos and appearing with Eric Ripert in Boston.

Tony talked music with Maxim.

Endless Simmer explained how Bourdain can’t please all the people all the time after hearing him speak in Philadelphia in February. The good news is that Tony’s apparently been feeling stale himself and vows to retire much of his current schtick. I agree with Endless that it’s damn near impossible for him to surprise fans who read all his books and watch NR while staying on topic.

And some guy named Eddie Huang, the chef of a bun house in NYC’s Lower East Side called Baohaus, is being called the new Bourdain.

FreeFoodies.com has posted its first episode of its satiric foodie sitcom. Loved it!

As for Top Chef All-Stars, Tony wasn’t a judge last week and it deserves its own post, so stay tuned…


Bourdain Regains His Throne at TC

March 7, 2011

By Karen

Sorry, Zimmern. Anthony Bourdain came roaring out of the gate with Season 7 of No Reservations in Haiti, tweeting live during the broadcast, and temporarily crashing the server of Sean Penn’s Haiti relief organization, J/P HRO. (If you want to help out, donations are welcome.)

While I was watching Ghost Adventures the following Friday night, Bourdain dominated every commercial break. I may have to eat my words about No Res being on the wane. I hope so. Especially since this season will include Cuba. He’s there right this minute.

TIME magazine called the Haiti show a “thoughtful piece of cultural journalism.” Could there be Emmy potential in Tony’s sensitively incisive voiceover?

Speaking of Zimmern, Bourdain was on stage at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival last weekend talking his standard trash about the guy when Baldie himself showed up.

Wonder of wonders, AOL did a good interview with Bourdain. It always shows when the questioner is a fan.

Tony told Entertainment Weekly his favorite foodie films, and I’m sitting here looking at the March 11 hardcopy edition where he names his 5 most terrifying meals. They are: rotten shark in Iceland, warthog in Namibia, anything at Olive Garden, natto, and Dale T’s butterscotch scallops on Top Chef.

Last week, Tony appeared with Gabrielle Hamilton, author of Blood, Bones & Butter, at Barnes & Noble in NYC. His hobby of book blurbing is making him the Oprah of culinary memoirs. Hamilton will probably soon be on everybody’s radar, thanks to his enthusiastic endorsement.

Bourdain and Ripert appeared in Boston together on March 4 as “Good vs. Evil.” Most interesting was Eric’s story about how he once handled a complaining customer. I just can’t picture it.

Tony also talked to EW about writing for Treme. He seems to be finding a new niche with script-writing and, if Treme’s co-creator David Simon is any judge, Tony’s really good at it.

And finally, Top Chef All-Stars

Not even on my worst day would I ever dream of mashing hot dog buns into sour cream and cheese and calling it soup, but that’s what Mike did in the Quickfire. He should probably stick to stealing recipes.

Then Mike and Antonia found out that they are distant cousins and their contentious relationship did a complete 180. Now they’re BFFs.

Bourdain was MIA again, but the judges were all uncharacteristically kind in front of the cheftestant family members who dined with them. Padma didn’t even spit anything into her napkin. Apparently, every dish was truly excellent.

At judges’ table, they made a few weak stabs at nitpicking, and Padma almost killed Richard by telling him to “pack his knives,” but that was their idea of a “joke.” Instead, all 5 remaining chefs got to stay for the finale. They’re going to the Bahamas, where Padma will fulfill her fond fantasy of hosting in a bikini.

If you missed the show, here’s Max Silvestri’s funny and more detailed recap at Eater.

Tonight, No Reservations goes to Cambodia.


“No Reservations” Season 7: Bourdain is Back

February 28, 2011

By Karen

The long drought is over. Anthony Bourdain travels to Haiti, where he meets Sean Penn trying to help the people recover from the earthquake. Travel Channel’s Room214 is MIA, so I didn’t get a sneak peak, but here’s the promo…

BONUS: Tony will be tweeting live @NoReservations during the episode. And remember, the new time slot is 9 p.m. ET.

The Bourdains just attended the South Beach Wine & Food Festival and returned to Miami Ink (where Tony got his skull tattoo and we got our first glimpse of Ottavia). This time, they got matching body art — a hissing snake. The Daily Mail published a great series of photos. And here’s a brief video of Tony under the needle.

All I can say is, when you can’t check out your wife’s new tat without your reading specs, you’re probably too old to be doing that stuff.

Rolf Potts at Gadling did a masochistic experiment to go “Around the World in 80 Hours (of Travel TV)” by watching Travel Channel. I only mention it because he ends his 5-part blog series discussing the NR Tex/Mex episode and how Bourdain personifies how good the Travel Channel could be (if it weren’t such a commercial-riddled crap-fest).

According to this Delaware Online recap, Tony outed himself himself as a cat person in Wilmington on the 22nd. Good work, Lupetto (Bourdain’s cat) and thank you! That should get certain felines around here who think my Bourdain posts make me a blog hog off my back.

During the Boston Phoenix interview about the NR episode Tony recently filmed there and his upcoming March 4 appearance with Eric Ripert, Tony called B.R. Myers “the asshole in the Atlantic,” while conceding that his anti-foodie article was well-written. Well, DUH! Myers quoted Tony.

The Dallas Observer thinks Jamie’s Food Escapes with Jamie Oliver on Cooking Channel may give Bourdain some stiff competition. The travel/food format is similar, but Jamie also cooks. If you want to check it out, it’s on Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET.

And now, Top Chef All-Stars

Paula Deen took Tony’s place for last week’s Southern cooking challenges, which was probably a blessing. Tony declared North Carolina BBQ his favorite in the March issue of Budget Travel for its “purity” of being seasoned only with vinegar, salt, and pepper.

I’ve eaten a lot of NC BBQ living here in the South, and more often than not, its only saving grace is that big bottle of red BBQ sauce on the table because it’s so dry, you need lots of lubrication to choke it down.

Anyway, mustard was the undoing of one of my favorites, Dale. Now only Carla and Tiffany are left, although Tiffany has started to annoy me and I’ve developed soft spots for Antonia and Richard.

Mike is another story. Talk about your stereotypical Jersey scumbag (apologies to Morgan!). A few weeks ago, he shared his aversion to helping his competition, but he topped that in the latest Quickfire by hijacking a chicken oyster idea Richard had shared with him. Even worse, he WON $5K and, with a big smirk, gave Richard credit for “inspiring” him.

With that, Mike joined the ranks of every unscrupulous creep who has ever not deserved to win a reality show, beginning with Richard Hatch on Survivor: Season 1.

Thank God Richard prevailed by winning the Elimination Challenge and a trip to Barbados.

Tony didn’t blog for Bravo last week because he was at the SoBe Festival, but Bravo claimed a few days later that he was in Connecticut. Now I’m wondering if Tony’s messing with them by lying about his whereabouts. (He was speaking in Connecticut the night Top Chef aired on the 23rd, but probably didn’t get back to his hotel in time to see it.)

Max Silvestri wrote another great recap on Eater.

A new satiric series called Foodies is coming to the Web March 9 at www.freefoodies.com. It looks interesting, and I’ve marked my calendar to check it out.


Bourdain to Curtail Road Trips

February 21, 2011

By Karen

Anthony Bourdain’s hard heart melts at his daughter Ariane’s tears whenever he leaves on yet another personal appearance marathon, so he’s severely curtailing his gigs in the future. I’ve only found 3 more through 2011, and 2 of those are with Eric Ripert.

It’s not that interest in Tony as a speaker is waning (although he plans to develop a lot of new material). Last night he sold out the 1,250-seat Gallo Center for the Arts in Modesto, Calif. In fact, he broke the record for selling out faster and sooner than anybody, so Gallo held a video simulcast to the overflow crowd for the first time ever.

The rest of us have one more week until Season 7 of No Reservations begins in Haiti. Here’s Travel Channel’s promo clip.

To verify last week’s contention that Travel Channel is dissing Tony, last Friday night watching Ghost Adventures, I timed Bourdain and Zimmern’s commercials from 7:30 – 10 p.m. with a stopwatch. Here are the results:

Bourdain 4 spots 1:30
Zimmern 6 spots 3:00

Zimmern got one full-minute ad, Bourdain didn’t, and all but one of Zimmern’s ads were at least 30 seconds long. Overall, it felt like Zimmern was in my face all night.

Palm Springs Metromix got an interview with Tony before his February 19 Palm Desert appearance, and he mentioned the possibility of Zamir getting a spinoff series.

And last week Tony returned to judge Top Chef All-Stars

We need a new word for “ridiculous” after last week’s elimination challenge. The cheftestants were forced to raid a closed Target to assemble complete cooking workstations from store merchandise and prepare meals for 100 employees by 3 a.m.

Bourdain paid tribute to the utter absurdity of the situation by showing up in a sweater he picked up at Mr. Rogers’ estate sale.

In the end, Angelo went home for over-salting potato soup, after Dale skated by on the same offense the week before.

The rationale was that Dale’s saltiness was merely annoying, where Angelo’s was lethal. I think tastebuds were destroyed.

I’m not sticking up for Angelo. I never liked him and I was glad he went. But the judges took us one step closer to the no-time, no-food challenge so they can pick the winner based on what he/she might have cooked.

And then Padma got uncharacteristically feisty when Mike mistakenly asserted his soup contained “fresh coconut milk.” She repeated, “Fresh?” as if everybody knows you can’t get fresh tropical produce at Target.

Gee, Padma, maybe Mike was a tad confused after running a marathon all night on no sleep, feeding an army with crappy portable appliances on a folding table. He’d have spent all his time draining coconuts if he could have.

Padma’s misplaced aggression probably arose from the sting of Sesame Street Muppet Elmo’s “TMI!” when she tried to tell him where cinnamon and cardamom come from.

But the night’s true douche moment was Colicchio and Bourdain’s reaction to learning Tiffany used creole seasoning in her jambalaya.

“You used a PREPARED seasoning?” A spice BLEND? From a JAR?”

Oh, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph! The unspeakable horror… dried herbs. Mixed TOGETHER!

McCormick, Mrs. Dash, and Emeril, there’s a special corner in hell waiting just for you.

Tony, back from his “overseas hiatus” in Pennsylvania, blogged for Bravo about Angelo’s downfall.

Later, defending the judges’ decisions in a post-show interview with Entertainment Weekly’s PopWatch, Bourdain heaped praise on Colicchio, lest anyone forget he’s an American treasure…

“Tom Colicchio is a giant of the industry. He changed the world of cooking…. He’s a one man Rushmore.”

Now, readers, raise your hand if you’d ever heard of Tom Colicchio before Top Chef, and name one thing he’s said or done that has changed the way you cook.

Just one…

Coming up empty? Me, too. This is the sort of cliquish foodie-with-head-up-ass statement that makes people like B.R. Myers write nasty things about foodies.

To top it off, Eric Ripert tweeted that he’s never been in Target, and wonders how someone could even prepare Top Chef-worthy cuisine from ingredients purchased there. Take that, Middle America. I wonder if Ripert has Target confused with 7-Eleven?

In Top Chef recaps…

BestWeekEverTV did it with great illustrations.

And Max Silvestri at Eater was hilarious, as always.

We end on some disappointing news…

Tony blogged that his new graphic novel, Get Jiro, is looking great, but publication has been pushed off to some time in 2012. No reason given.


Bourdain’s Becoming King of the Foreword

November 22, 2010

By Karen

The remaining new episode of No Reservations Season 6, a holiday special, debuts on December 6 at 10 p.m. EST. Travel Channel’s site says…

Tony and Michael Ruhlman prepare a holiday dinner that goes awry. Celebrity chefs Mario Batali, David Chang and Duff Goldman are just a few of the special guests to also make an appearance.

Tony did a phone interview on Wednesday, November 10 with Besha Rodell, the Omnivore blogger at Creative Loafing Atlanta, before his November 20 appearance there. Nothing much new except that he suggests term limits for food writers.

Momnesia provides a succinct rundown of the highlights that night.

Bourdain contributed the foreword to Eric Ripert’s new book, Avec Eric, a companion travel/cookbook to Ripert’s PBS series that looks truly beautiful. And I found this Ripert video at Vanity Fair, which was shot partially at last year’s Cayman Cookout. Tony was nervous about helping to prepare the Gala Dinner. (Tony’s bit begins 6:30 in.) It may explain why he seems to be taking a pass on the kitchen work for the next one.

Tony blogged about his recent trip to Haiti as Hurricane Tomas approached. For me, this post felt like an amuse bouche of things to come with his writing.

Amazingly, some idiot commented that Tony’s blog posts scream “ghost writer.” I can’t think of many writers today whose voice is as distinctive and unmistakable in their work as Anthony Bourdain’s.

I’m hoping one day Bourdain will invent a fictional alter-ego, along the lines of Somerset Maugham’s Ashenden, to make use of as-yet-undocumented material from his many journeys.

Here’s a bit more on the DC Food Fight November 11. Bon Appetit Foodie is a much better photographer than I am, and she managed to meet just about everybody there.

It turns out Bourdain was in Nicaragua filming No Reservations recently, he revealed in an e-mail interview with the St. Petersburg Times before his November 19 appearance there. He also said that his appearance on Yo Gabba Gabba cured Ariane of her fear of doctors. (In case you missed it, he played a doctor.) This interview covers some new ground. For example, I had no idea Tony’s worried he may have pissed off Thomas Keller with Medium Raw.

The windows at Barney’s New York inspire shoppers to “Have a Foodie Holiday” with dolls of many culinary stars, including Bourdain. They coincided with the release of the South Beach Wine & Food Festival Cookbook, for which Tony — you guessed it — wrote the foreword. WorldRedEye has a bunch of photos from the launch party.


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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