Bourdain was Big in the Noughties

January 4, 2010

By Karen

If you have Comcast cable and want a jump on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations Season 6, the Panama episode is On Demand. No such luck with Verizon FIOS.

You may remember a debate we had back when No Reservations Hawaii aired. Winnipeg Bob thought Tony’s wife Ottavia was sitting in the background during Tony’s closing monologue after the tourist luau.

I have received confirmation from an unimpeachable source that Bob was right. It was Ottavia, and she was sitting with a crew member. Ottavia-watchers can also see her in the Tuscany episode, and she and her whole family were featured in Sardinia.

And the kudos keep rolling in…

Toronto-based Indigo Books & Music, Inc., compiled a list of 75 books of the past decade that had greatest impact on booklovers, and Kitchen Confidential made the cut.

A panel of leading British food writers also placed KC in the top 10 of the best 40 food books of the decade.

The Buffalo News named Bourdain 2009’s “Visitor of the Year” for filming a segment of his Rust Belt episode there. Poor Zamir didn’t even get honorable mention.

Journal Squared predicts 23 original thinkers who will shape 2010, and Bourdain makes his list at No. 12.

North Carolina Public Radio has posted audio of, I believe, the entire talk Bourdain delivered in Durham, NC, on February 19, 2009, when I drove 6 hours round-trip to hear him speak and meet him. Enjoy!

And since you’ve probably been dying to know (yeah, right) if I ever attempted béarnaise sauce from scratch, the answer is yes.

I used the dumbed-down 3-ingredient “Never Fail” recipe and was able to eat it, so it didn’t totally suck. But as Bourdain predicted 10 years ago in his cookbook, I fucked it up. In the time it took George Foreman to cook my rib-eye steak, the béarnaise assumed the consistency of lumpy custard.

But what pissed me off the most was that with only 3 freaking ingredients, I ended up with a sink full of pots, bowls and utensils, and congealed butter EVERYWHERE. Such a big mess for such a little bit of sauce!

But I will try again…

I’ve also got my eye on Bourdain’s cassoulet recipe because Hermione Gingold made it in Gigi and he says anyone who can make good chili (me, me!) can make cassoulet.

Overdue For My Next Bourdain Fix

August 10, 2009

By Karen

Anthony Bourdain does San Francisco on No Reservations tonight, and I better not miss it like last week’s Street Food special. My DVD recorder had a malfunction.

Even worse, Verizon comes today to switch my TV to FIOS (Your latest rate increase was your last, Comcast!), and Verizon better not screw it up. Both episodes are airing tonight back-to-back and if I don’t capture them, life won’t be worth living.

Just kidding!

Lots of advance buzz on San Fran. Ingrid at Room214 says Tony stuffs his face with interesting things non-stop, and Sand Dollar Adventures has a few words about Ingrid.

SFoodie ran a “Why I Love Bourdain” essay contest last week. I liked this winning entry, which claims that Tony doesn’t “exotify” food. A vegetarian reveals how Bourdain converted him with an oyster. Another fan calls Tony the “anti-celebrity chef.” Excellent description. And here’s a poem.

An SF bartender relates his conversation with Bourdain in — where else? — a bar.

Remember when Cats Working reader Petunia told us she thought Tony is doing voiceovers for Glad storage containers? I haven’t seen the ad yet, and no one has confirmed it, but now another one has surfaced — in Singapore. The Certified Pinoy Blogger wonders if Bourdain is really endorsing chicken rice or if someone’s using his likeness without permission.

And remember all the flak over the Rust Belt episode dissing Baltimore and Buffalo? Well, ModelD offers some tweets on Bourdain’s visit to Detroit and there’s not one kvetch about how he done ‘em wrong.

Scott D Parker in Houston reveals sort of a man-crush on Bourdain by concocting his own version of, “I travel. I write. I eat. And I’m hungry for more.”

Here’s an off-the-wall item: Variety compares Bourdain to fellow reality series Emmy nominees, comedian Kathy Griffin and Dog Whisperer Cesar Millan, and they each give their theories on their success.

And even weirder, Sandra Lee would like to have Tony over for meat and potatoes and cocktails.

Sandra Lee Meets Bourdain, Lets Him Live

August 3, 2009

By Karen

No Reservations tonight is a special on street food that sounds like a compilation of sweepings from the cutting room floor. Sort of a cinematic version of Bourdain’s book, The Nasty Bits. Not that I’m complaining. Tony seems most at home eating mystery meat prepared by some wizened, toothless crone who’s been cooking outdoors for decades on a grill that’s never been sullied by soap and water.

In her advance buzz e-mail, Ingrid from Room214 mentioned Ireland, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Singapore, Mexico, and New York, so we’re in for a world tour. Maybe some of the old footage will provide a glimpse of Tony’s former snark. He’s been too mellow lately.

No so Bourdain’s critics. Dave Zurawik, TV critic for The Baltimore Sun, hated the Rust Belt episode, and the Bourdain bashers came out in force to comment on his post.

Zurawik lambasted Bourdain further on radio at Midday with Dan Rodricks. Scroll down to July 27-30, 1:00-2:00 p.m. to listen.

Buffalo Chow wasn’t thrilled with Bourdain’s visit there, either.

Hot Buffalo provides several clips from the Rust Belt episode without editorializing.

Bourdain blogged his own impressions of the episode.

Too much negative buzz in the blogosphere about Bourdain’s alleged superficial handling of Baltimore and Buffalo to link to here, much of it redundant. Seems nobody liked him saying their city is “bleeped up.”

Perhaps not so oddly, I don’t think I saw a bad word about his treatment of Detroit. After the meltdown of the auto industry, maybe they were grateful for any empathetic visitor.

On July 30, Tony was in New York City attending the premiere of Julie & Julia. Epicurious mentions his “female companion” had a foreign accent. Found a photo in this gallery (#9), and it was Ottavia.

SFoodie wrote a first-hand account of helping Tony find a good taco truck in the upcoming San Francisco episode. SFoodie is also running a contest to attend a view party when the San Francisco episode airs on August 10. All you have to do is write in 60 words or less why you love Anthony Bourdain. The contest ends at midnight tonight (which I assume is 3 a.m. August 4 on the East Coast.)

UPDATE: Bourdain confirmed on his blog my comments about the Street Food episode, that he attended the Julie & Julia premiere with his wife — and they met Sandra Lee.

What I found most shocking was that Sandra Lee dates Andrew Cuomo, New York state’s attorney general.

Bourdain & Zamir Do the Rust Belt

July 27, 2009

By Karen

After last season’s debacle in Romania, Anthony Bourdain returns the favor by taking his pal Zamir to Baltimore, Detroit, and Buffalo in the dead of winter. In Baltimore, they feast on cheap fried fish and greens out in the cold on a roadside picnic table.

In Detroit share a Middle Eastern meal with Rashid, a man who was evacuated with Tony and his crew from Beirut. There, Tony also engages in another lame athletic endeavor (compensation for the crazy stunts he no longer does?) — feather bowling.

And in Buffalo, of course, they try – beef on weck? WTF?

Zamir’s always-entertaining presence should make this an episode not to miss.

Found this chat with Mario Batali. Bourdain had just returned from the as-yet-unaired “Meet the Fockers” episode in Sardinia, and asks for advice on how to fit in. He mentions that daughter Ariane already has dual Italian citizenship, and he wants it for himself.

Tomato offers some clips of Bourdain’s latest episode in Melbourne, and at the end provides 7 links to an interview he did with Tony there in 2005 (with some great, youthful-looking photos). Not much new, except Tony totally trashes truffle oil.

Smell My Plate weighs in on celebrity chefs, and draws an insightful conclusion on where Bourdain fits in to that category.

On an side note, way off to the side, NBC must have a death wish. They’re planning a sitcom starring Padma Lakshmi, tentatively called Single Serving. Since Padma’s acting credentials make a list as long as your pinky, Defamer offers some other series ideas for the vapid Top Chef host.

PS: Padma and Tom Colicchio were co-nominated for Emmys for best reality competition hosts. Talk about riding the bald guy’s coat tails.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Bourdain

June 25, 2009

By Karen

It’s a good thing Anthony Bourdain quit smoking because he’s got 53 candles to blow out today. We’ll be getting even more relief from the heat soon with new episodes of No Reservations beginning July 13 in Chile.


On July 27, watch for Bourdain’s much-anticipated journey to the “Rust Belt” of Baltimore, Detroit, and Buffalo with his pal Zamir. I’ve been renting The Wire from Netflix to get up to speed on Tony’s favorite show so I can fully appreciate his reaction to Baltimore.

The Travel Channel is playing coy about the air dates of the other new episodes. Maybe Ingrid from Room241 will check in soon and give us some scoop.

Cats Working reader UrbanJoanna sent a link to another great photo of lovebirds Tony and Ottavia. Her effortless chic is so Sex and the City.

Time magazine just dubbed the culinary tell-all genre Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential inspired as “Chef Lit.”

Culture in Indonesia, who’s trying to learn food writing, compares My Life in France by Julia Child to A Cook’s Tour by Bourdain and reaches an astoundingly off-base conclusion about Tony’s attitude toward food.

Thanks to Bourdain, I just got sucked in to Facebook while innocently trying to get a handle on his upcoming personal appearances. I’m in way deeper than I ever intended, hearing from long-lost cousins I couldn’t pick out of a lineup. I’m even registered like a common loony as one of Bourdain’s fans. Oh, the shame!

But since I’ve yet to figure out how Facebook works, none of it is doing me any good. Somebody out there please give it to me straight: Is Facebook an infuriating maze of poorly designed and hard-to-find features, or am I going senile?

A Bourdain Gallery

January 19, 2009

By Karen

After showing Zamir the frigid Rust Belt, Anthony Bourdain undoubtedly made the most of his weekend at the Cayman Cookout, where the festivities kicked off January 16 on beautiful, balmy Seven Mile Beach.

(Photo - Travel Channel)

(Photo - Travel Channel)

Tony’s event on Sunday afternoon was sold out. But when the guest chefs prepared a 7-course gala dinner for the attendees, I was surprised he wasn’t among them. He’s no shirker. Does he fear his kitchen skills are too rusty, after seeing buddy Eric Ripert tame the grill station at Les Halles?

Cats Working readers uncover Bourdain pics everywhere. The links are scattered throughout the comments, so I’m bringing some to the fore. Don’t want you to miss anything.

Bob provided a great peek into Tony’s youth, including the whole Bourdain family.

I found this interesting account of Bourdain in Seattle in June 2008. You’ve got to admire his ability to speak off the cuff to 1,400 people.

If you’re an author, Tony’s the man to write you a killer book blurb. That’s more than I can say for humorist Dave Barry, who pleaded being too famous and busy to blurb How to Work Like a CAT, even though it complements his own book, Claw Your Way to the Top.

Nickole found Ariane facing the camera for once, with Ottavia and proud papa Bourdain.

This album is huge, beautiful, and mostly irrelevant. I flipped through nearly 500 pics to find the best Bourdain. Here’s Ariane again on the left in a group shot, held by a stranger. What happened to Ottavia?

And a refreshing variation on “Tony posing with female fan” at the Florida Film Festival.

Tony with Ottavia on his left. Her hair looks a lighter and longer than usual.

And suave Tony — at a black-tie event in Charleston, South Carolina.

He’ll be in Santa Barbara, California, on February 27 to discuss Kitchen Confidential, which seems odd, since he’s written many other books since.

Top Chef must be feeling the absence of snark at the judges’ table in Season 5 because they added Toby Young to fill the void left by Bourdain — if he were short, bespectacled, bald, and British. Young seems to strain to be clever. He makes me wish for Tony to breeze through unannounced, lay a big wet one on Padma for shock value, drop a few verbal bombs, and leave Toby in his dust.

Another Buffet of Anthony Bourdain

January 12, 2009

By Karen

If Anthony Bourdain holds any grudge against his Russian friend, Zamir, for the widely-panned No Reservations episode in Romania, he’s found a way to show Zamir that revenge is a dish best served cold.

(Photo - Travel Channel)

(Photo - Travel Channel)

Tony and Zamir have been traipsing around the U.S. filming what Tony calls the Rust Belt episode to air this summer. Undoubtedly to lull Zamir into thinking the U.S. is temperate in January, they started out in Baltimore.

Then they hit Detroit.

Remember how Buffalo was a finalist when Bourdain chose a locale from viewer videos? (He ultimately went to Saudi Arabia.) Buffalonian Nelson Starr was so persuasive, In Da Buff reports that Tony planned to help Nelson launch Buffalo Rising, his own Web-based food show devoted to local cuisine à la No Res.

Tony did show up over the weekend and was caught on tape.

Zamir has so far remained silent about the whole experience. Still thawing out, perhaps.

(1/13 Update: Tony just posted a blog entry about Zamir, From Russia With Love. Hilarious!)

I know tonight’s new episode of No Reservations in Venice is destined to become one of my favorites because I love seeing Tony in romantic places with indoor plumbing. I wonder if he’ll shun gondolas like he avoided the pyramids in Egypt. Will we catch any glimpses of Ottavia? I didn’t see her in this preview.

Here’s a lovely homage to Bourdain — a man crush, really — at The Pep Rally. (Bonus: It includes the racy “Bourdain bone” photo.)

I just finished reading Typhoid Mary. Tony dedicated it to his ex, Nancy, and I suspect it benefited from meticulous background research she contributed. Biography isn’t Bourdain’s forté, but he succeeded in making Mary many-faceted, even though little is known about her. Identifying with her as a fellow cook, he comes across as hating the sin, but loving the sinner. It’s only about 150 pages long, out of print, and selling for exorbitant sums on Amazon, but if you can find a copy, I recommend it.

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