Bourdain Coming to Richmond – At Last

November 13, 2012

By Karen

My eyes boinged out of their sockets this morning at the news Anthony Bourdain is finally — FINALLY! — coming to Richmond. He’s gracing us with his Guts & Glory at the newly-renovated Landmark Theater April 23, 2013.

I can hardly wait.

Moving on to chocolate, the rumor of Bourdain taking the merchandising plunge — with Eric Ripert — is true. Their Good & Evil bar hit the market November 9.

Last April, Eric hacked his way through the jungles of Peru with Pennsylvania chocolatier Christopher Curtin to reach rare trees that produce cacao beans long believed extinct, and he helped harvest them.

The result is a delicacy that’s 72% cacao, weighs 2.6 ounces, and retails for $18. Each.

If anybody splurges and orders one, please let us 99-Percenters know if you could detect its dark cherry notes.

A blogger at The New Yorker recently ripped Tony a new one for his very existence, accusing him of “brutishness” and leaving a “crude hickey on food culture.” Tony shot back promptly in the third comment. He must get Google alerts on himself.

As you probably know, No Reservations wrapped forever with Tony’s visit to Brooklyn. Especially poignant was the thought that his locales may have been doomed by Hurricane Sandy. (I wondered what happened to one man’s collection of vintage cars? And will Zamir follow Tony to CNN?)

Bourdain blogged what he considers his best and worst episodes of No Res. I have to agree that Rome, even in black and white, sticks in my mind. Tony in suit and tie tooling around with Ottavia glammed up like Sophia Hepburn was so Roman Holiday.

His remaining Travel Channel series, The Layover, debuts its second (and last) season November 19. I’m waiting to see to what new lows TC will sink to stretch the illusion of a Bourdain association.

But maybe they won’t be sorry to see the last of Tony after his cuss-filled Twitter tirade when they secretly spliced gratuitous shots of Cadillacs into Brooklyn show promo, making it look like his endorsement.

It took me right back to the days they had him flash a Chase Sapphire card to pay for his meals in exotic places.

UPDATE: Just discovered that Tony blogged at length about the Cadillac incident. He’s STILL pissed with Travel Channel, and rightly so, by the sound of it.

Travel Channel is such a clusterfuck on so many levels, you have to give them credit for creative underhandedness in advertising. I just realized they recently started duplicating episodes out on Verizon On Demand to trick hapless viewers into watching the longer one laced with commercials.

Almost forgot… I caught the first 4 half-hour episodes of Tony’s PBS series, The Mind of a Chef, starring David Chang. It came on at 2 a.m. here. Thanks to Bourdain, I’ve got this obsession with finding the perfect noodle, and that’s what the first episode was about. I didn’t expect the series to hold my attention, but it totally did. Highly recommend it.

And finally, Tony’s still writing for the HBO series Treme, and did a scene for Emeril Lagasse that reveals him in a light (and with a mouth) you’ve probably never seen before.

UPDATE: This will teach me not to read Twitter before I post. Bourdain’s new CNN series is called Parts Unknown. I like that. Here’s the promo.


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 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.”


Warming Up to ‘The Layover’

November 22, 2011

By Karen

I started writing very different impressions of Anthony Bourdain’s new series, The Layover, which premiered on Travel Channel last night. But I wanted to watch the Singapore episode again before shooting my mouth off, so I just checked Verizon’s On Demand for it in hopes of skipping the step of fast-forwarding through 20 minutes of commercials.

Predictably, it wasn’t there — but the as-yet-unaired New York City episode was.

Travel Channel strikes again. But more on that below.

Bottom line: Singapore left me underwhelmed. The 3- and 4-way split screens quickly grated. But let’s begin with what I liked…

  • Testimonials and tips from locals — they found friendly, articulate characters who complemented Bourdain nicely.
  • Tony navigating like a normal person. In No Reservations, he magically appears at destinations without logistics — unless his mode of travel is bizarre and feeds his idea of “the story.” But now we know he’s royalty at Singapore’s Grand Hyatt and thinks the airport is the world’s best.
  • The subtitles. I loved the maps, lists, and spellings of locations, businesses, and foods.
  • All the practical advice about transportation, hotels, and pricing (which will, unfortunately, date the series).

But aside from that, it was essentially Tony walking around, looking cool, and eating.

I get his reluctance to hit tourist traps. He’d have probably run in to Samantha Brown on that Ferris wheel. But I doubt anybody with one day in Singapore would eat 15 times.

At one point, I thought the show was wrapping up because it seemed I’d been watching Bourdain eat for hours, but the clock said it was only 9:29. That’s never a good thing.

But then I lucked into episode 2 in New York City. The format’s essentially the same, but used far less split-screen. It just felt better and held my interest.

If there’s anything Bourdain can teach us, it’s how to avoid being ugly American tourists. The tips NYC locals gave did just that. I was waiting for one to say, “Ladies, never wear a scrunchie.” (FYI: Sex & the City reference.)

After seeing New York, I like the The Layover. Let’s face it, if you were in foreign surroundings, who better than Anthony Bourdain to keep you safe and show you the good stuff?

Now, back to Travel Channel…

They are partnering with Rand-McNally’s Tripology.com to help viewers trace Bourdain’s footsteps in The Layover, virtually ensuring that Tony will indeed “destroy the things he loves.”

From their press release

Viewers can go to Travelchannel.com to watch additional video from a particular show and then research locations and activities. The site then connects them with Tripology.com, an interactive referral service focused on connecting travelers with qualified top-rated travel specialists. With Tripology.com, a user tells specialists where they want to go and what kind of experience they want. The request goes to a Travel Channel tripologist who specializes in the area, and is armed with actual itineraries from programming. Usually within 24 hours, the user will receive an email or phone call from a Travel Channel tripologist who can help plan the trip, and book with them directly.

Travel Channel “tripologists.”

What a stinking job title. I imagine incarnations of those hapless schlubs from Room 214 who tried to make TC a force in social media. They’d never met Tony and could tell you nothing about him or his travels beyond what TC’s PR flaks dribbled out in emails and video snippets.

It smells like Travel Channel has found a way to skim a little off viewer-to-travel-agent referrals. If you’re sucker enough to trust them, you’ll probably be spending your vacation in the wrong country.


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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