It’s B-Day! Meeting Anthony Bourdain in Durham

February 19, 2009

By Karen

When I discovered Anthony Bourdain and No Reservations a few years ago, it never occurred to me that our paths would cross and I’d wake up one day planning to meet him.

While making my tea this morning in my little Virginia kitchen, it seemed surreal to think by this evening I’ll be in a sold-out crowd, breathing Tony’s air and, later, thanks to his generosity, lining up for his autograph and introducing myself as the infamous Cats Working.

Then I’ll duck.

Shampooing with Miracle-Gro hasn’t done much for my butchered hair. (Thanks, Fantastic Sam’s!) If there’s a photo op, I’ll be the boy standing next to Tony.

My red V-neck sweater, hoop earrings, and plenty of makeup are packed and ready to roll. The Saturn’s gassed up. Driving to Durham, I’ll be re-listening to French Lessons by Peter Mayle. Fittingly, it’s about his gastronomic adventures. After years of No Res, I expect to “get” it a lot more than I did the first time.

You won’t hear from me again until after the event, but I’m turning the keyboard over to Adele.

If you don’t hear from me again, I’m dead and Bourdain’s on the lam. Contact the Travel Channel and the FBI immediately.


Found some reviews on the Philippines episode. Filipino American Pinoy Life loved it and provided several links to other bloggers’ posts.

Wordblots also weighed in.

Wish me luck!

Oh, and Bob, Winnipeg ROCKS!

Bourdain Does the Philippines: Redux

February 15, 2009

By Karen

Since Bourdain’s visit to the Philippines got thoroughly documented once the No Reservations producers realized the foolishness and futility of trying to muzzle the blogosphere, I’m returning to my original post on it. The episode airs February 16.

Last week I was contacted by a woman from Room214 in Colorado, a company that helps the Travel Channel foster word-of-mouth buzz for some of its programs. She confessed to being a long-time Cats Working lurker and offered me, as an “influential blogger” (her words, not mine), some “inside scoop” on upcoming episodes.

My first dose of scoop was on the Philippines, and I’ll confess feeling underwhelmed. To repeat it would make me a PR flack for Bourdain and he’d lose all respect for me. However, if you want to read it, So Much More Than a Mom posted it verbatim.

Since Cats Working readers have come to expect original content, I resurrected my original October 24, 2008, observations on this episode, which were fresh at the time. It’s the post I pulled because Claude Tayag’s nephew asked me to when he told me that the NR producers were concerned about leaks. If you compare it to what Room214’s putting out there in advance buzz, it’s inconsequential. Here it is:

Bourdain’s Smoking in the Philippines

Anthony Bourdain checked in with fans on his blog and graciously endured a ritual flogging over the dismal results of his recent special, At the Table With Anthony Bourdain, while en route to shooting a long-awaited episode of No Reservations in the Philippines.

Filipino bloggers have been tracking him. Our Awesome Planet reported (in the post he was asked to delete, but I read it first) that Tony was in Pampanga at Claude Tayag’s Bale Dutung on October 23, with plans to do an “Ultimate Pampanga Tour” on the 25th, which includes eating “juicy kwentos from Tito Claude.”

Tony with Mr. and Mrs. Claude Tayag (Photo - Jumbo Tayag)

Tony with Mr. and Mrs. Claude Tayag (Photo – Jumbo Tayag)

This blog also reports that Tony drained the place of an apparently nasty beer called San Mig Light that earned a “D+ avoid” rating with the Beer Advocate. I assume Tony’s holding one in the photo.

Awesome Planet went on to say Tony was the first (and last) person allowed to smoke in Bale Dutung. Now I’m wondering if Tony isn’t holding a cigarette in the right hand he’s coyly concealing, in case the photo ever falls into Ottavia’s hands?

The blog post ended saying that a trip to Aling Lucing’s Sisig was canceled because “lasheng na si Bourdain. hahahahaha.”

I couldn’t find a translation for this phrase, so maybe someone who speaks the language can help me out. I suspect it has something to do with “raging hangover.”

(UPDATE: Before I yanked this post, several readers commented that the remark had to do with drunkenness, and I was unable to find a translation because the spelling was slurred for effect.)

Perhaps that nightmare of a posh meal “At the Table” was a wake-up call. The old Bourdain seems to be back.

Now, back to the present…

As a tie-in to his visit, Tony gave Filipino magazine, Rogue, an interview. A Whiff of Lemongrass captured one page of it. The interviewer seemed to be using the list of questions Bourdain has answered a million times, but Tony does get in a good dig at food bloggers.

Anthropologist reported a few more of Bourdain’s comments.

And if Tony needed any more evidence that he’s sorely missed on Top Chef — and new guest judge Toby Young is suffering mightily in comparison — Blogging Top Chef posted results of yet another poll. Their first names may differ by only one letter, but in style and wit, Tony and Toby are light years apart.

And I just came across this first-hand account (with photos) from Profumo Profondo, who dined at Les Halles that memorable night Bourdain returned to work a double shift and invited Eric Ripert to man the grill station.

Meanwhile, I’m beginning prep for my own live encounter with Bourdain in Durham, NC, on February 19.

My Personal Bourdain Dilemma

November 26, 2008

By Karen

But first, Cats Working’s latest tidbits about our favorite bad boy chef:

Les Halles in Washington, DC, has closed and news reports were calling it the “brainchild” of Anthony Bourdain, which must amuse him. I thought he just worked in the New York branch, which remains open.

No Reservations’ producers have apparently abandoned all attempts at censorship because here’s another highly detailed account of one of Tony’s stops in the Philippines.

Speaking of censorship, I just learned that his failed special, At the Table, was quickly yanked from YouTube. Were they trying to cleanse the ‘Net of the stench of failure?

I came across a forgotten answer to this burning question: If Tony had still been with Nancy instead of Ottavia, would he have gotten that skull tattoo on his right shoulder for Miami Ink? He answers it himself at the end of Kitchen Confidential:

“My wife, blessedly, has stayed with me through all of it, the late nights, the coming home drunk, my less than charming tendency not to pay any attention at all to her…. A few months back, in a moment of admittedly misguided solidarity with my heavily decorated kitchen crew, I got a tattoo, a reasonably tasteful headhunter’s band around my upper arm. Nancy, however, was on record as finding skin art about as attractive as ringworm; she took it, not unreasonably, as a personal affront. She was mightily pissed off, and still is, for that matter…but she still wakes up next to me every morning, laughs at my jokes on occasion and helpfully points out when I’m being an asshole.”

And now, my personal Bourdain dilemma: There’s An Evening with Anthony Bourdain in Durham, North Carolina, on February 19, 2009. I’m afraid it’s as close as he’ll ever come to Richmond, Virginia. It would involve many hours of driving over possibly treacherous winter roads, taking 2 days off because I’d have to spend the night, and getting someone to feed the cats. Tickets are available. Dare I go?

P.S. For all you Bourdainiacs who can’t get enough, the Travel Channel is running a No Reservations marathon from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. (ET) Friday, November 28.

Bourdain’s Producers Rethink Blog Censorship

November 3, 2008

By Karen

After a few early posts (including mine) about Anthony Bourdain’s visit to the Philippines had to be yanked, it seems Tony’s every waking moment there is being documented and illustrated by local bloggers.

Market Manila just wrote a lengthy account that included many photos of Bourdain eating spit-roasted pigs in Cebu. Apparently aware of the previous censorship, he wrote:

“I must say that I was not prevented from blogging about this event, in fact, I was graciously told by the show’s producer that I could write anything I wanted, but armed with that freedom, I understand fully the responsibility involved, and I definitely will not pre-empt the program (which should air in the United States in late January 2009 or so, and several months later here in Asia)…”

Check out those photos of Tony. They say the camera adds 10 pounds, but is it me, or does he look a little chunky in the chin these days? And at certain angles, does that white shirt conceal a paunch sprouting from his stick figure?

Even Claude Tayag, the owner of Bale Dutung, waxed eloquent about Bourdain in a lengthy post for The Philippine Star. It was about the same meal that sparked the killing of my and others’ posts. I had read and reported that Tony was seen smoking there while downing large quantities of San Mig Light beer, a brew apparently so foul it earned a “D+ Avoid” rating with the Beer Advocate.

What this indicates to me is that the sacrifices of Cats Working and several Filipino bloggers in taking down our posts were not in vain. We apparently helped the producers of No Reservations realize the value of positive advance buzz in the blogosphere.

As Bourdain would say, “The People Have Spoken.”

Bourdain’s Crew Play Big Brother

October 26, 2008

By Karen

I just honored a polite request to delete a previous post entitled “Bourdain’s Smoking in the Philippines” by the nephew of a restaurant owner who will apparently be featured in an upcoming episode of No Reservations. The nephew doesn’t want to inadvertently cause any problems for his uncle. He was asked by the NR production people to take down his own post and photos of Bourdain’s visit because they felt it pre-empted the content of the episode.

They apparently have no use for bloggers generating some free “advance buzz” on future episodes.

To explain the title of my original post, I don’t think I’m talking out of school to restate that it sprang from earlier reports I had read of Bourdain “allegedly” consuming beer and smoking, even though he says he quit smoking months ago. We’ve seen him play that scene many times before in many countries.

Cats Working has never had any indication that Bourdain is aware of this blog, but we’ve now felt the long arms of his peeps reaching out vicariously to muzzle us.

It’s a first, and I hope a last. Along with the rest of the market, Bourdain’s stock just dropped a few points with us.

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