Conversation with Tom Vitale, Part 3

October 22, 2021

By Karen

Tom Vitale, author of In the Weeds: Around the World and Behind the Scenes with Anthony Bourdain, published October 5, talked with me at length on October 10 and graciously expanded on some things he brought up in his book that left me with lingering questions about…

Anthony Bourdain, “The Talent”

CW: Throughout your book, you mention getting walkie-talkie notifications, “One hour till Tony,” “Five minutes till Tony.” What was he doing? Who was with him?

TV: Tony would be at the hotel, and we had a rough idea of what the day’s schedule was. I would call him about 30 minutes before he was supposed to leave his location. There would be a PA [production assistant] or his driver waiting for him in the lobby. The driver would send us updates on how far away they were.

The reason was that by the time Tony arrived, in an ideal scenario he’d be able to walk right out of the car into the scene, sit down, and not be distracted by setting up lights or any of the artifices of making television.

CW: What’s your theory on Tony’s reluctance to speak on camera? Do you think he was having sensory overload, or was he afraid of not being brilliant enough before he’d had a chance to process everything? Was he just being an asshole?

TV: He wasn’t being an asshole, at least, most of the time. I think the whole convention of the host talking to the camera was something he didn’t like. But when he found something particularly inspiring, he would talk to the camera.

In the first episode of Parts Unknown in Burma — I probably neglected to include this in the book — but there was a time when he thought there just wouldn’t be any more direct talking to the camera. That was a No Reservations thing. But he was so good at it and such a natural, there was no way that was ever going away, whether he wanted it to or not.

CW: Can you tell me anything else about his room service phobia? Did he have that same reluctance talking to airline ticket agents or desk clerks? Or was it specifically a room service thing?

TV: Tony was shy overall. The room service phobia I discovered a bit later. I wish I knew more about it. It seems very strange to me, too.

When we went to hotels, they definitely knew who we were and who he was. We weren’t just regular guests. Sometimes they would have the head chef and other prominent people from the food and beverage department of the hotel lined up to greet Tony when he arrived. Sometimes there would be crazy things left for him in his room from the hotel staff, like I remember one time a giant marzipan sculpture of him.

So, he was aware that they were aware of him. He must have thought, “Here’s this traveling chef guy who’s famous for liking to eat all the local food. Why would he be ordering room service?” That’s my best guess.

With a lot of things with Tony, if they seemed emotionally troubling, the best way to deal with them was by not confronting them. If I’d asked him about it, I don’t know exactly what he would have said, but he would have had some snarky, condescending answer and an eye roll, as a way to protect himself from whatever was causing the issue in the first place.

CW: In so many shows, Tony talked and made jokes about death. It was often really funny. Now, in hindsight when we see him doing that on a show, we go, “Oh, shit, if only we’d known.” Did you use most of his death talk or cut a lot out? I’m wondering how great that obsession was.

TV: It was pretty constant. “I’m going to hang myself in the shower stall,” was very common. But like everything with Tony, only about 1/70th of whatever we recorded made it into the finished show.

CW: I wondered if the editors would roll their eyes and say, “My god, he’s talking about death again. Let’s take this out.”

TV: We started rolling eyes over the “What would you have as your last meal?” thing, because it came up all the time and became a little less interesting to use.

The “My hotel room’s so awful, I’m going to hang myself in the shower stall,” kind of thing automatically would get cut without too much discussion because it didn’t reference anything in the show.

But it was always very funny, and I think it was funny to him at the time. It’s in retrospect that those things are particularly painful.

CW: Lately I’ve been watching reruns of No Reservations because I like seeing him when he seemed happier than those last two years of Parts Unknown.

TV: The stresses and pressures were greater during Parts Unknown, but he was not unhappier, I’d say, across the board. Clearly in that last six months, things got a bit more out of control.

But the difference between Tony No Reservations and Parts Unknown has more to do with the seriousness of the locations and the subject matter than it did with the general overall personality shift.

The people we’d spend time with were in more seriously precarious positions than they had been over the years. No Reservations was definitely a lighter time in general. The stakes just were lower. There was more room to screw up. And screwing up was an important part of the magic recipe. The space to risk screwing up was a very important space for Tony.

Final installment next week: The Last Girlfriend.


Conversation with Tom Vitale, Part 1

October 15, 2021

By Karen

Tom Vitale is author of In the Weeds: Around the World and Behind the Scenes with Anthony Bourdain, published October 5.

We spoke by phone October 10. The full transcript of our wide-ranging convo runs 6,400 words, so I’ll be sharing it in a series of edited segments. First up…

Lingering (Now)-Solved Mysteries

Cats Working: Tom, thanks for doing this. How do you feel now that your book’s out and has a life of its own?

Tom Vitale: It’s weird and a bit surreal. It’s hard to be excited like I feel I should be, because it still means Tony’s gone. Overall, it’s becoming clearer that I needed to write the book to help process all the different crazy things going on inside my mind.

CW: I scanned back through the blog, and maybe you can tell me something about the Chase Sapphire incident. It was No Reservations, Season 6 —

TV: Yes, I know that quite well.

CW: Tony started using this credit card. In fact, I just rewatched Prague, and he flashes the card upside down, which I took as a “Fuck you, Chase.” What was that about?

TV: I worked on the Chase Sapphire integration in Harbin, China. He pays for a big meal at the end with his card. I remember Tony thanking me for that placement because it didn’t stand out like a sore thumb. Chase paid him for product placement. Typical Tony, he hated doing it.

TV pays pretty well, but not that well. The real money comes from product placement or endorsements, which Tony resisted because his integrity wouldn’t let him sell out. But he was always looking for ways to do something pretty low-impact. Chase Sapphire was one. I think we had to use it five times in that season and work it in naturally. There was a Bing thing we had to do once —

CW: Yes! My next question is Bing.com. He did a commercial.

TV: I had to direct that. Bing was a Microsoft search engine, and I don’t even know if it still exists. We staged a faux-production meeting, and we actually had to use Google to find Bing. Microsoft was hoping it was going to be big, and they paid for a commercial. I don’t remember if it ever aired. Nari, and I think Sandy, were in it.

CW: It aired because I saw it, but I don’t remember it. At the time, I wrote that Tony said in it he made all this travel plans using Bing.com.

TV: [Laughs]

CW: There was some outrage over Chase Sapphire, particularly. We thought evil Travel Channel had forced him to do it. But thanks to you, now the truth is on the record.

TV: Travel Channel probably proposed those. They came to him to all the time with product placements. I remember one involving Cadillac he refused, but they did it anyway, and he was furious.

He didn’t want to do them, but he also needed to pay for private school for his daughter and so on. He rejected many things and would joke, “You endorse Imodium one time, and then for the rest of your life, you’re the Imodium guy.”

He had so many opportunities over the years that he refused. Making those shows was so hard, he was looking for income that didn’t mean 250 days a year traveling around the world.

CW: Here’s more trivia. In August 2011, Bill Maher had Tony on his HBO show, Real Time, and Maher was an asshole. Tony came on with a copy of his latest book, and it sat uncomfortably on the table. It seemed Tony expected to discuss the book, but Maher ignored it. At one point Maher even called Tony “Arthur.” Did Tony ever mention it? He never did Bill Maher again.

TV: Tony used a lot of unflattering words to describe Bill Maher, but I don’t remember him saying anything specific. I never saw it, but he did not enjoy it.

CW: I would wonder why Bill Maher would set a guest up like that, but he’s just a dick.

TV: It was funny how personally Tony would take things. I once read this book called Cockpit Confidential by an airline pilot who basically dispelled notions about fear of flying. I was talking to Tony about it, thinking there was no way he’d be aware of this book. Not only was he aware, he was quite angry that the author ripped off his title for Kitchen Confidential. I just couldn’t believe he knew or cared, because the two books couldn’t compete in any way.

CW: That is funny. I’ve got a Cruise Confidential, about working on cruise ships, on my bookshelf. Tony created a genre.

Now I’m going to share a story I’ve never told anyone. Once upon a time, I received an email from a woman, I think on the West Coast, who told me she had Tony’s cellphone number. She’d been calling him repeatedly and hanging up because she wanted to hear his voice. She felt badly about it and decided to confess to me.

I kept telling her she had to stop it. She finally sent me a number and said, “OK, now that I’ve given his number to you, I feel free of it and I don’t have to call him anymore.”

I never heard from her again. This is the number she gave me [XXX-XXX-XXXX]. Do you remember if it was his?

TV: I’m looking it up right now. Yes, that was it.

CW: So, she really had it. I didn’t know what to do with that information at the time. Did he ever mention getting those hang-up calls?

TV: I don’t remember that specifically, but he was paranoid, and I’m sure that contributed. Very early in No Reservations, they put his phone number on the schedules. For some reason, there was a big kerfuffle and it was taken off. I don’t know if those things could be related.

He definitely would have done some thinking, like, “Where was my number left out? I was just on a shoot, and it was on the schedule.” He might have had some idea who it was.


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.”


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