Another Week in the Life of Bourdain

November 2, 2009

By Karen

Wendy at Room 214 should have known some bloggers can’t keep a secret. The November 2 debut episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Alternate Universe on the Travel Channel Web site, “Robo Chef,” was on YouTube and all over the blogosphere by October 27. (Except here, where cats have honor.)

Bourdain’s posted about it the same day on his own blog, revealing that he wrote the whole series himself, so it should be good, although it’s getting mixed reviews.

Tony is appearing in Waukegan, Illinois, on November 6, and Deborah Pankey of the Daily Herald got an advance phone interview with him. Tony told her that Ariane was a fairy princess for Halloween, and when she’s old enough to trick-or-treat, Dad wants to accompany her dressed as a pirate.

Jennifer Olvera of the Vernon Hills Review also talked to Tony before Waukegan and got his take on the future of food writing for print (doomed by bloggers), social networking (“fame maintenance”), and the Chicago food scene. She also mentioned that he does have a new book coming out in 2010.

Yippee!!

I couldn’t find the complete text, so I’m not sure if Bourdain actually wrote a full book review or just did a blurb for My Bread, a cookbook by a Manhattan baker named Jim Lahey.

I just found this 41-minute audio interview of Tony with Jeremy Shapiro of Stir the Pots from April 8, 2007, the day before Ariane was born. In those days, he was very supportive of bloggers — all bloggers — and the role we play in the Information Age.

A few months ago, Shapiro traveled to Turkey, where he missed Tony filming there, but he met Zenyo Gursës, a Turkish blogger who wrote about Bourdain’s visit for the local paper. If you can read Turkish, please let us know if he had any new insights. The article crashed Google Translation.

Bob from Winnipeg hasn’t checked in yet with the scoop from his visit to Les Halles last week, but we’ll post it as soon as he does.


Junk from Bourdain’s Alternate Universe

October 27, 2009

By Karen

Wendy of Room 214 has done her job well; reaction to Robo Chef is popping up on the blogosphere, most noticeably on what is apparently Bourdain’s new favorite blog, Grub Street.

Grub Street reported on Alternate Universe yesterday — a full 9 hours after Cats Working — and I’m wondering if it’s a coincidence that they happened to use the exact same title as my post (“Anthony Bourdain Gets Animated”).

Then Bourdain himself was right there with the very first comment, and then the third.

I’m feeling miffed.

And reading other bloggers’ reaction to the show is making me wonder if we all saw the same video. Eat Me Daily mentioned seeing Andrew Zimmern in a straitjacket. I didn’t. Anybody else? But I could see Tony having that fantasy.

Creative Loafing says Bourdain eats people’s brains, but it never happened, at least in Robo Chef. I think even Tony would balk at chowing down on Sandra Lee’s gray matter, even though it could be an amuse-bouche at best.

Blogger Veronica Belmont is the only one I’ve seen so far who obviously “gets” it.


Bourdain’s Alternate Universe: More Scoop

October 27, 2009

By Karen

After yesterday’s post, I received from Room 214 an e-mail about Anthony Bourdain’s Alternate Universe, his new animated Web series. (BTW, our friend Ingrid has apparently moved on because Wendy is my new contact there.)

Wendy provided me an “exclusive” peek at the first episode, Robo Chef. Well, exclusive to me and how ever many thousands of bloggers she’s penpals with. She made us swear an oath of secrecy (yeah, let’s see how long that holds), so I can’t let you view the episode, but I wouldn’t be giving away the farm to share a few impressions.

Bourdain plays a slightly-crazed Dr. Frankenstein type, working for the Cooking Channel. He’s a bit risqué and drops lots of names, delivering jabs equally to friends and foes. He must have had fun doing the voiceover.

The episode ends on a cliffhanger with Bourdain’s hair on fire.

My reaction overall? Meh. But I thought the animation was well-done (considering no one even attempts the fluidity of Loony Tunes anymore), and the humor has potential. It will only get better if they let Bourdain’s alter-ego totally off the leash.

Robo Chef premiers Monday, November 2, on the Travel Channel’s Web site, with 5 more episodes coming monthly.

Going cartoon is a weird turn for Tony’s career to take, but maybe it’s the Ariane influence. Here’s the teaser again, in case you missed it yesterday. It hints at “plots” to come that go far beyond Robo Cop and look like fun. I’ll be watching.


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