Bourdain the Ubiquitous

December 17, 2013

By Karen

In late October, I traveled to Lisbon to make a 13-day transatlantic crossing to Miami on Royal Caribbean’s ship, Vision of the Seas. My plan was to get away from it ALL — job, litterboxes, useless Congress (and Obama), never-ending disasters, premature Christmas (that one didn’t work out at all, the Caribbean was already decorated). I just wanted to reboot.

But one thing I couldn’t leave behind — Anthony Bourdain. He was EVERYWHERE.

Not that I complain. Long-time readers know Cats Working has a history with Tony & Assoc. And other travelers with only a passing interest wouldn’t have even noticed how he dogged their every step (through no fault of his own, I must add — he has people for that now).

Bourdain has certainly hit critical mass, and then some. The Richmond, Newark, Miami, and Atlanta airports all had their big-screen TVs tuned to CNN.

They might as well have been showing the Cartoon Network, but let me not digress.

During every commercial break (they’re numerous) were Parts Unknown commercials and outtakes, especially for the season finale in Detroit.

In United’s and Delta’s in-flight magazines, I found his caricature and mentions in several places.

I caught him on TV at my hotel in Lisbon.

In my cabin on the ship, in mid-freaking-ocean, I channel-surfed to a rerun of No Res on ship’s TV where he visited St. Vincent and Bequia in the Grenadines. This struck me as ironic, since Bourdain expresses only disdain for cruise travel.

So, I tell people I took this vacation alone, but Bourdain might as well have been in my suitcase.

In other news…

Thanks to my new DVR, I’ve been collecting all of A Cook’s Tour and I’m closing in on the last episode I need, “My Life as a Cook.” Sitting on the DVR yet to be watched is Tony’s first episode ever, “A Taste of Tokyo.”

I’m actually enjoying A Cook’s Tour more than Parts Unknown because it’s pre-jaded Tony. At times, he reacts to strange dishes like Andrew Zimmern used to, before Zimmern anointed himself mini-Bourdain.

Today, there seems to be nothing revolting enough to make Tony turn a hair. The thrill is gone.

If you follow Tony on Twitter, you know he’s taken up Brazilian jiu jitsu with his wife and daughter, and recently earned his first stripe on his white belt.

Personally, if I had a husband, and he were on the cusp of geezerhood, and he told me he was taking up wrestling, I’d brain him with a skillet.

In case you’re interested, Gothamist did a nice job of covering some new ground with Tony and his relationship with movies, before he appeared on Dec. 11 with filmmaker Albert Maysles at the Society for Ethical Culture in NYC.

And mark your calendar. Season 2 of Tony’s cooking competition, The Taste, begins Jan. 2. Nigella Lawson and Ludo Lefebvre are back, and they’ve replaced Brian Malarkey with Marcus Samuelsson as a judge.

I’m just relieved they didn’t recruit that bald bastard from Master Chef, so I’ll check it out, with fingers crossed that it’s improved.


Bourdain Wows Richmond

April 24, 2013

By Karen

Anthony Bourdain brought Guts & Glory to Richmond, Va., on April 23 and succeeded in — or came close to — filling the 3,565-seat Landmark Theater. They loved him.

But the custom for every live performance here is to start at least 15 minutes late. Then 15 minutes into Tony’s talk, stragglers were still groping their way over everyone to find their seats in the dark. And no sooner were they seated than they started clambering back out to visit the head or buy drinks.

In Richmond, a warm body on stage gets no more courtesy than a movie at the Regal Cinema.

Regardless, Bourdain was in top form. In faded jeans, an untucked shirt under a gray jacket, and those beige shoes we’ve seen him roam the world in, he commanded the stage with a bottle of Virginia’s Full Nelson beer and a clicker to show the photos and film clips that punctuated his talk.

He opened with his recent Paula Dean kerfuffle. After seeing a picture of Mario Batali kissing Dean, Tony concluded that “integrity is overrated” and he’s a hypocrite himself in many ways, so Tony proposed his own line of merchandise, including an Anthony Bourdain action figure that weirdly looks just like Eric Ripert.

The rest of his talk rested on the framework of what it takes to work with or for him. I won’t give away his outline, but you’ve seen all the principles on No Reservations.

As endearing and thoroughly entertaining as he was, he didn’t cover much new ground for me or regular Cats Working readers. He indulged in a few Lewis Black-like rages. He’s a bluntly passionate advocate for Americans to broaden their culinary horizons, which he sums up in two words…

Food matters.

He ripped into vegetarians and vegans by observing that their lifestyle is possible only in the developed world because we have so many options, compared to poor countries where people are meat-free involuntarily. So if they offer you a dish they rarely get to eat themselves, you’d be “rude” and “incurious” not to accept.

He said he doesn’t go to Russia often because he can’t keep up with, of all things, the drinking. In a typical day, he averages 30-40 vodka shots, beginning at breakfast.

His extensive travel has bred a life-changing sense of “moral relativism” in him, where he frequently gives a pass to people with differing world views he’d ordinarily have nothing to do with. As a result, he gets complaints from “Couch Rambos” who accuse him of not defending America.

He ended with some unabashed gushing about fatherhood and his daughter, especially her more sophisticated food choices.

The Q&A was brief and added nothing. His last answer included a somewhat embarrassed allusion to The Taste (without naming it), then he abruptly wrapped up and left the stage.

The VIP reception afterward (don’t ask) in the ballroom was packed. Tony got hustled past the buffet of gourmet hors d’oeuvres (tuna tartare, anyone?) to a table for the inevitable book-signing, and he probably cringed at the line of several hundred that snaked around the room. We only got a quick few seconds of face time. I brought his 2001 biography, Typhoid Mary, for an autograph, and I’m betting it was the only one of that title he signed all night.

I told him we think he’s doing good work with Parts Unknown, and he replied he’s very happy and it’s the best working arrangement he’s ever had.

Bonus…

Here’s his interview with Buffalo News where he talks about The Taste and future seasons of Mind of a Chef.

Correction: Marilyn Hagerty’s book under Tony’s imprint, Grand Forks, comes out August 27. I made the snide prediction that his name would be more prominent on the cover than hers, but I was wrong (and I really knew if he had anything to do with it, he’d never try to steal an old lady’s thunder). Bourdain calls the book an “antidote to snark.”

If you haven’t read Tony’s graphic novel, Get Jiro! yet, it’s out in paperback May 7.

He holds up well after a very long night.

He holds up well after a very long night.


Bourdain’s Parts Not-So Unknown

April 18, 2013

By Karen

The opening montage was undeniably slicker (but did my eyes deceive when I detected a few shots in it from No Reservations?), but the sense of déjà vu quickly set in with the discordant rock theme by John Homme and Mark Lanegan (whose only lyric I think I got was “rain on my shoulder”) and the black and red logo with Tony sitting beside it.

The only thing they left back at Travel Channel was the ink blot.

We’d been duly warned that Parts Unknown wouldn’t be that different, but come on.

Tony’s first foray for CNN was to Myanmar (formerly Burma), I place I know mainly as Siam’s rival kingdom in The King and I. As a nod to his new masters’ focus on news, the episode opened with Bourdain talking in somber tones about the country’s recent political developments and reading a newspaper in the street, with some voiceover of Obama giving a speech there and a shot of “O-Burma” tchotchkes thrown in.

But then there was a quick segue to familiar turf: tea.

Tony soon met up with his former employer from Les Halles, Philippe LaJeunie, who happened to be in town, and they did some street-dining on chicken necks and little birds deep-fried whole.

My favorite part was the long, uncomfortable train ride to Bagan, and I wondered how they got that shot of the train’s underside from the tracks.

While I’m on the cinematography, there was also a stunning shot of Tony standing at water’s edge during a breathtaking sunset, and another spectacular sunset caught from the train. Burma definitely brought out the best in his camera guy.

Then at one point, Tony said, “There is shit going on they do not want you to see,” and didn’t get bleeped!

Score one for CNN.

Miami New Times reviewed the show and called it “No Reservations with slow motion.”

Obviously, Bourdain’s PR machine did a good job of spreading word about the show because its premiere gave CNN a nice ratings bump. But the question is, can he sustain it and build his fan base merely with the twist of eating the same old exotic stuff in places it’s assumed Americans aren’t safe?

Director Tom Vitale gave a good interview about filming the first several episodes to Bon Appetit.

For episode 2, Tony travels to Koreatown in Los Angeles, so I anticipate the usual dim sum and noodle scenes — but (gasp!) on American soil!

I’d turn out to hear Bourdain read the phone book (and will be seeing him live in Richmond on April 23), but how long will most viewers stick around to watch him keep milking the same cow?


Bourdain Becomes a Standup Guy

October 29, 2012

By Karen

In preparation for his new Guts & Glory tour in November, Anthony Bourdain dropped in at the Comedy Cellar in NYC last week and did 10 minutes of standup to test his material. I’m sure it was better than bombing in front several thousand people, which is what his personal appearances typically attract, given the space, but it was risky in that he wasn’t guaranteed an audience of foodies.

Imagine making cracks about Guy Fieri and Adam Richman to people who have never heard of them.

But no guts, no glory. That’s our Tony!

I’ve been watching the final season of No Reservations, and he utterly charmed me in Burgundy and Emilia-Romagna. And I was awed by Ottavia’s amazing display of lower-body strength in Rio when she wrapped her legs like a boa constrictor around her hapless opponent to win her first Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu match.

No Res wraps on November 5 in Brooklyn — and Travel Channel waves buh-bye to future Emmys unless crown prince Zimmern can rise above a diet of balls and bugs.
To watch the Brooklyn show, Tony’s fan-favorite sidekick, Zamir, will be the guest of honor at the Lafayette Hotel in Buffalo, NY, where there will also be a Bourdain impersonator contest. Let’s hope somebody captures some video of that.

The second and final Bourdain-led season of The Layover begins in the No Res time slot November 19. Tony’s selection of places is excellent: Chicago, Atlanta, Dublin, New Orleans, Paris, Philadelphia, Sao Paolo, Seattle, Taipei, and Toronto.

It will be interesting to see how Travel Channel pads and drags out Layover to milk the illusion of Tony’s presence as long as possible.

I believe Tony begins work on his new, as-yet-unnamed CNN series in December.

But before all that, on November 9 a new 30-minute series debuts on PBS at 9 p.m. called The Mind of a Chef. It stars David Chang, with Bourdain as executive producer and narrator.

Details have been released on how Tony and Nigella Lawson’s ABC food competition, The Taste, will work. What sticks in my craw is the bit pitting amateurs against pros, but I trust that Bourdain wouldn’t condone a vastly uneven playing field after his merciless mocking of non-chefs on other similar shows.

And it seems Tony may have finally been bitten by the merchandising bug…

Zagat and Eater reported that Bourdain and BFF Eric Ripert may be launching a new chocolate bar called Good & Evil some time after November 8, but nobody seems to know any details.

First a graphic novel comic book, now candy. What next? Bubble gum with celebrity chef trading cards?

Old news, but also of interest…

On October 11, Bourdain got roasted at the New York Wine & Food Festival. Here are some of the zingers, and it sounds like Eric Ripert stooped nicely to the occasion.

More zingers.

The following morning, Tony got to spend 3 whole minutes chatting with Savannah Guthrie on the Today Show.

Bourdain recently did a phone interview with the Houston Press. It was published in 2 parts, and part 2 was most worth reading.

In part 1, Tony said he’d like to see chicken Caesar salads disappear from restaurant menus, and took a swipe at old white-haired food critics that got a rise out of John Mariani of Esquire.


Bourdain’s ‘Get Jiro!’ an Acquired Taste

July 9, 2012

By Karen

THIS JUST IN: Bourdain’s cooking competition with Nigella Lawson on ABC to be called The Taste and run for 8 episodes. Read more at Variety.

Now, back to the original post…

Anthony Bourdain may be spawning yet another new writing genre — apocalyptic culinary science fiction — with his first graphic novel, Get Jiro!

A lot of it went over my head, but I assume foodies will marinate with glee in the gastronomic references and restaurant inside jokes. And there are enough lopped-off limbs and beheading gross-outs to appeal to teenage boys who wouldn’t know good sushi rice from Rice Krispies.

Tony covered a lot of familiar ground with the food, including recreation of the infamous ortolan scene from Medium Raw. He also got in his digs at vegans, locavores, fast food, fat people, restaurant chains, and Alice Waters.

Visually, it’s beautiful, with cinematic artwork by Langdon Foss and Jose Villarrubia that features many mood-evoking futuristic cityscapes.

But I didn’t particularly “hear” Tony’s voice until this impassioned speech near the end: “We make BEAUTIFUL revolution, so you and I, brother and sister, our children…without shame…can live and cook foods we love without oppression from IMPERIALIST JACKALS who make us buy their SHIT INGREDIENT and live like dogs!”

Speaking of dogs, he included a few cats. We first see Jiro in his restaurant with a manekineko (Japanese beckoning cat) in the window, and a couple of real cats have walk-ons in a restaurant scene.

Be warned: This may be just the beginning for Jiro. The ending screams “sequel!”

Tor did a far more insightful review of the book than I could ever hope to write.

Bourdain gave a good interview to Comic Book Resources.

In other news…

Belated “Happy Birthday!” Tony turned 56 on June 25. Broward Palm Beach NewTimes suggested 5 gifts for him.

And “Congratulations!” No Reservations won the Critics’ Choice 2012 TV Award for Best Reality Series.

When Tony visited Jimmy Fallon recently, backstage he filmed this little video on how to make negronis, a concoction of Campari, gin, and sweet vermouth — with a slice of orange.

The Bourdain and Ripert families rented houses in the Hamptons this summer, and Tony and Eric did a Hamptons magazine cover shoot where they modeled some clothing and accessories. Eric sported a $38,000 Rolex.

The accompanying article misstates Tony’s birthplace as NYC, and then makes a rookie usage error in the second paragraph about how Tony’s paid Eric many “complements” in Kitchen Confidential. But then the inept intro gives way to a straight transcript of a great conversation between Tony and Eric.

Here’s some video of Tony and crew eating around NYC for Vice.com and paying a surprise visit to Les Halles.

Andrew Zimmern talks these days like he and Bourdain are BFFs and praises Tony effusively. On the other hand, just about every time I’ve ever heard Bourdain mention Zimmern, he’s a punchline.

Bourdain recently raised $10K for the NYC Food Bank by skydiving in tandem with the COO of Air Canada.

Ottavia, in addition to earning her blue belt recently (Congrats!), is executive producer on a pilot for a scripted Web series about the restaurant business called “Employees Only.”

Still no word on names for Bourdain’s new shows on CNN and ABC.


Trying to Keep Up with Bourdain

June 18, 2012

By Karen

After so many years of following him as relatively obscure, niche cable star, with Cats Working the worldwide destination for the scoop long before he became a fixture at Eater and Grub Street, it’s gratifying to see Anthony Bourdain finally reach critical mass. Lately, it seems, you can’t swing a cat without hitting him.

I must be recovering from my Bourdain overload, because I must confess that all his new endeavors are piquing my curiosity like a fresh catnip mouse.

Once again, Travel Channel has suspended No Reservations in mid-season, but Tony’s kept himself busy shooting The Layover (in Paris and Dublin he’s tweeted — Yes!!) and making the media rounds to talk up his new shows on CNN and ABC (both of which are still unnamed) and his upcoming graphic novel, Get Jiro!, in general release July 3.

Before I again make the mistake of letting some good links stack up and go stale, here are my latest for whatever Bourdainiac readers I have left…

Tony wrote an extremely uncharacteristic and personal guest blog for Bon Appetit about his father’s influence on him. Pierre Bourdain died of a heart attack at age 57 (Tony will be 56 on June 25). It’s illustrated by many new-to-us childhood photos, courtesy of Tony’s mother Gladys.

Bloody Elbow got a lengthy interview with Tony and Ottavia, published as part 1 and part 2. We learn that one of Ottavia’s favorite snacks is tuna packed in oil with pickled onions. Lupetto the cat probably can’t begin to compete with her tuna breath.

Tony reveals in this interview that he and I basically agree on NYC Mayor Bloomberg’s attempt to ban enormous sodas, and for the same reasons.

Tony did a personal appearance on June 9 in Brooklyn, and Food Republic captured the highlights. I learned that Paula Deen’s also a shill for Serta mattresses. Who knew, and why? Maybe they lured her in with their “soy-infused poly foam core,” which sounds like a concoction from Top Chef.

In case you missed Tony talking to Jimmy Fallon on June 8, here’s the video. Fallon completely overlooked the latest-breaking news that day, which was Bourdain’s ABC show with Nigella Lawson, and Tony didn’t bring it up.

And last, Tony talked to the NY Times about his gigs on CNN and ABC and publication of the graphic novel all hitting at the same time.


Bourdain to Jump Ship to CNN

May 29, 2012

By Karen

I haven’t written about Anthony Bourdain lately because No Reservations is leaving me meh, but attention must be paid to today’s announcement that No Res is wrapping up after current Season 8 and he’ll be leaving Travel Channel after filming one more season of The Layover. In 2013 he’ll begin a Sunday prime-time series on CNN and become a domestic and international commentator.

Here at Cats Working, we’ve been saying for a long time that he’s too good for TC, but I’m not sure CNN is good enough for Bourdain. What do you think?

This just in (5/30): The CNN arrangement calls for Bourdain to produce 8 shows in 2 seasons each year, or a total of 16 episodes. Will an 8-week “season” be enough to  hook viewers so they’ll remember to return 6 months later for more? Hmmm…

Bizarre Food’s Andrew Zimmern, who’s been lately talking like Bourdain’s mini-me, must be giddy at the prospect of inheriting Tony’s crown as the “grand old man” of TC.

CNN’s news release describes Tony’s as-yet-unnamed program as one that “will be shot on location and examine cultures from around the world through their food and dining and travel rituals.”

I certainly hope this implies something more substantive than another opportunity for Tony to globe-trot, eat, drink, and shoot his mouth off.

Will CNN try to rein in Bourdain’s tendencies to stir up controversy? At last weekend’s Great GoogaMooga Festival in Brooklyn, Tony talked about doing unspeakable (if well-deserved) things to Dick Cheney and expressed a desire to soak an Olive Garden in gasoline so he could burn it to the ground over its pasta-cooking techniques.

Apparently, he’s forgotten the heartfelt review of the new Grand Forks Olive Garden that got him so misty-eyed, he handed a publishing deal to its 85-year-old author that’s probably doomed to produce a book to make Garrison Keillor seem like a pornographer in comparison.

Gothamist did a good job of putting Tony’s kind gesture into its proper Photoshopped perspective.

Tony’s long-awaited graphic novel, Get Jiro! is finally coming out July 3.

And someone is adapting his first novel, Bone in the Throat, into a movie.

Bourdain received an honorary Clio Award on May 15. I congratulate him, but I’m still trying to wrap my head around the rationale behind it.

I’d say Bourdain’s career has hit critical mass. Like Paula Deen, whatever he touches, whether past, present or future, is destined to turn to gold.

Speaking of Paula, Tony tried to clarify that he objects to her misleading fans and profiting richly from diabetes, while Paula and her kids disingenuously spin it that Bourdain blames her for having diabetes.

BONUS…

A few other things I’ve collected that may interest you:

Tony told Eater he’s still considering the year-in-Vietnam book, but opened the possibility of relocating it to Italy. YES, YES! Eater “gets” Tony, and their interview is well worth reading. In 2 parts.

Here are the first batch of books Tony has chosen to publish under his new Ecco imprint.

Ottavia’s become a celebrity in her own special niche. Here’s are some links to video interviews on how she got into MMA.


Catching Up with Bourdain

December 9, 2011

By Karen

With three shows running simultaneously, it’s pretty hard to keep up with Anthony Bourdain these days.

The Layover seems to gain strength with each new episode. I haven’t seen Rome yet (taped it, but waiting for it On Demand — hint, hint Travel Channel! — so I don’t have to waste time skirting commercials), but if the one-liners quoted by Eater.com are any indication, Tony let his snarky inner child out to play and it should be fun.

The No Reservations Christmas special is supposed to air Monday, December 12, at 10 p.m. ET on Travel Channel. Tony blogged about the cast, and it’s a smorgasbord.

The ZPZ team created a great short called, “A Krampas Carol,” written by Tony that, apparently, Travel Channel nixed. Thank God for YouTube:

 

Right before the special is a new Layover in Miami at 9 p.m. I’m really looking forward to this one because I’ve visited Miami many, many times.

But that’s only 2 shows. What gives?

The Cooking Channel is airing Tony’s first series, A Cook’s Tour, on random Tuesday nights at 9:30 p.m. You have to be vigilant to catch it, but it’s well worth it. Recently I caught Tony on his first trip to Cambodia, complete with earring, thumb ring, cigarettes, and less gray hair. He sampled his first durian and climbed up some temple wearing a camera around his neck — like a tourist — and it wasn’t meant to be sarcastic.

Seeing pre-jaded Bourdain reminds me why he first captured my attention.

Some other trinkets I’ve collected…

At the DC Food Fight in November, Tony was interviewed backstage by The Daily Caller. He seems a bit “under the influence” and gets drawn into Washington’s favorite topic — politics — giving his take on the Republican field and how he leans.

Tony appeared on Fox News with Thanksgiving travel tips. FOX??!!!

There was a really good article in The New York Observer about how Bourdain became a writer.

If you missed Tony’s recent cameo on The Simpsons, here it is.

AV Club got a candid interview (sans a lot of the usual canned stuff) with Tony.

Fans of Treme will be happy to hear that Season 3 is in production, and Tony talked to David Simon.

Before their appearance in Portland, Maine, on November 3, Tony and Eric Ripert drank champagne with two guys who have a local called FoodComaTV.

Tony answered a series of short questions for The Independent (UK), and summed up his life in six words: “He wasn’t such a bad bastard.” I learned from this article that he bought the first car of his life not too long ago — BMW.

There’s a very weird “addiction report card” on Bourdain at Psychology Today, written by someone assessing him only by his TV persona and Wikipedia entry.

For those who think Bourdain is all about Bourdain, he’s sky-driving to raise money for the Food Bank of NYC, luring tandem companions who will pay $10K a head to make the jump with him.

Tony’s occasional Russian sidekick, Zamir, recently opened a Twitter account at @ZamirGotta.

Coming up…

Tony’s 160-page graphic novel, Get Jiro!, is now supposed to be released in June 2012.

Travel Channel renewed No Res for an 8th season. From Tony’s tweets, it sounded as if they didn’t tell him directly, but he’s already filming anyway. But he’s the type who would say, “It’s always easier to beg forgiveness than to ask permission.”


Letterman Gives Bourdain a Pass

November 9, 2011

By Karen

On Monday, November 7, TMZ published a few pictures of Anthony Bourdain naked in a swimming pool with a sous chef while he was on vacation in 1999 on St. Martin. That same night, Tony appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman.

Bourdain pre-empted TMZ the previous weekend on Twitter by posting one of the photos himself, complete with TMZ’s tasteful red star obscuring his “nasty bits.” Tony mentioned that the photographer was his former wife, Nancy. Given the year, I assume Nancy was using film and got prints.

What I’m wondering is: How did TMZ end up with them?

It seems unlikely that Tony gave friends prints of himself floating in a pool naked with another man. So that leaves Nancy. While they were married (remember, at this time, he had dedicated two novels to her and fictionalized her as a heroine with near-super powers), would she have shared nude photos of her husband with anyone?

Fast-forward to 2011: Bourdain has moved on with a new family and we’ve never heard a peep out of Nancy. Could she have surfaced and tried to embarrass him, or did someone else have the photos and use them? If so, why?

Tony and Ottavia are rightfully treating it all as a big joke (Ottavia tweeted he looks like “beef jerky”). After all, he posed long ago for the provocative “boner” picture which is far superior, if seeing Bourdain naked is your thing.

Commenters on various websites have noted that the circumstances in St. Martin seem gay.

If Dave Letterman hadn’t been asleep at the switch, he could have asked Tony to enlighten us on this incident and been among the few to ever get Bourdain on the ropes. Instead, Dave did a ho-hum promo for Tony’s new show, The Layover, and lobbed in a few softball questions about food. Here’s the whole interview:

In other news…

On Sunday, November 13, cartoon Tony guest-stars on The Simpsons in an episode where Marge becomes a food blogger.

Eater posted an hour-long video of Bourdain with crew members Tom Vitale, Zach Zamboni, and Todd Liebler, at Google NY on October 20. Tony’s in fine form discussing why No Reservations is the best travel show on TV.

The Dallas Observer reported that ZAMIR, of all people, appeared on stage with Bourdain there on October 27. PS: If you’re on the fence about whether to watch Top Chef Texas, which just started its season, in case Tony drops by — Tony confirmed he won’t.

Tony’s new show, The Layover, begins Monday, November 21, in his usual 9 p.m. slot (barring Travel Channel yanking it for no reason). Eater did some good speculation on any possible symbolism in the bizarre promotional poster.

No Reservations has been nominated for a Taste (Tasty?) Award as Best TV Food Program. The ceremony is in Hollywood January 3.

HuffPost asked Tony 10 questions, to which he provided some interesting responses, although nothing out of character.


Catching Up with Bourdain

September 6, 2011

By Karen

No Reservations Season 7 (7 ½?) just wrapped, after a bizarre mid-season do-over of the “big Season 7 premier” to hype the Cuba episode, just as the REAL Season 7 opener Travel Channel tried to sweep under the rug months earlier, Haiti, was earning several Emmy nominations. Way to go, TC!

Bourdain ended up making a few destination tradeoffs, skipping the Congo, Yemen, and Memphis in favor of Chernobyl, Kurdistan, and New Orleans.

No complaints here. Zamir’s always a treat, and I’d rather see Tony get a clean, invisible nuking than chewed up and mauled by bat-sized bugs and crocs on some fetid river through a slimy jungle.

Speaking of New Orleans, I had to leave the room before he popped that pig full of lead. OK, call me a hypocrite because I love pork, but I’ve never eaten it right after looking into its eyes. And why does he always have to rub it in by goofing around with the severed head?

I didn’t see anybody using Pam to cook the fried chicken and other local specialties Bourdain wolfed down. This show airing on the heels of his dust-up with Paula Deen seemed particularly unfortunate.

If somehow you missed it, Tony told TV Guide that Paula Deen is the “most dangerous person to America” for her unhealthy dishes, that her food “sucks,” and several other jugular-aimed zingers.

Paula responded on Fox News that Tony should “get a life,” and Time magazine wrote that she cited “being irritated” as Bourdain’s biggest contribution to America. On the other hand, she did graciously extend him an open invitation to drop by for dinner, and I bet she could cuss him under the table stone-cold sober.

I feel certain Tony didn’t realize he picked at the longstanding chip on the South’s shoulder when he dissed Deen, but he did semi-back down in an interview with NPR’s Leonard Lopate, saying he didn’t mean to sound so personal, crass, and nasty.

Condemning vegans is one thing because Tony walks the walk, but after years of stuffing deep-fried everything, tubular mystery meats, and cream-and-mayo-slathered street junk and haute cuisine alike into his cake-hole, while coasting by on this souped-up junkie/smoker metabolism and a height (6’4”) that could carry another hundred pounds before his neck starts disappearing, criticizing grease-based Southern-style cooking seemed over the top, even for him.

Makes you wonder whom he’ll target next. Alcoholics, perhaps?

The backlash against Bourdain was immediate and, sadly, caused his basic, valid point about obesity to be lost. I read many of the take-downs (including Frank Bruni’s op-ed piece in the New York Times), but I thought the most thoughtful one came from Jessica Levine at AnnArbor.com.

You’ve probably heard that Travel Channel gave Bourdain a second show — 10 hour-long episodes called The Layover. It’s supposed to debut Monday, November 21, at 9 p.m., so mark your calendar. Tony and his crew returned to New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Hong Kong, Singapore, London, Rome, Montreal, and Amsterdam to film it.

Let’s hope TC lets Layover gain some traction before yanking it after a few episodes until everyone forgets about it, then resurrecting the remnants in mid-2012 like they’re something brand-new.

In this new endeavor, TVbythenumbers described Tony as a “contemporary cultural anthropologist,” which makes him sound a lot classier than his usual tag: “former chef and bad boy.”

On other fronts …

Anthony Bourdain will be a guest character on The Simpsons’ next season. Check out his cartoon persona here. For some reason, it’s circa 1995.

Sophia Chang has designed Bourdain destination posters. You can see a few of them here and here.

Tony’s wrote a sweet letter to Josh Homme’s daughter, Camille, after the U.S. Desert NR to explain why he smashed Daddy’s guitar against a tree. You can just imagine what his conversations with Ariane must be like. Oh, to be a fly on the wall.

And here’s a picture of Tony with Cole’s celebrity friend, Lupetto Bourdain, that received 6 paws up at Cats Working, even though Lupetto complained the photographer’s angle made him look chunky.

(Photo - Ottavia Bourdain, with permission)

Cole and Max asked me to include this message to Paula Deen and her fans:

“Any man who loves black cats can’t be all bad.”


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