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.


Ottavia Bourdain Incites ‘Steakgate’ in Vegas

July 19, 2012

By Karen

But first… Congratulations to Anthony Bourdain and No Reservations on 4 Emmy nominations. I didn’t notice any other Travel Channel blockbusters on the nominees list; they must be eating their hearts out at TC about Tony’s defection to CNN. The categories are:

  • Outstanding Nonfiction Series
  • Outstanding Writing – Cuba
  • Outstanding Cinematography – Mozambique
  • Outstanding Picture Editing – U.S. Desert

Back to Ottavia’s brouhaha… It all started when Grub Street innocently published her “week in the life of” guest blog post. What that woman eats is mind-boggling, but it was her description of a bad steak in an unnamed restaurant in Las Vegas while attending a UFC event with her husband that lit up the ‘Net.

So this guy named John Curtas rebuked Ottavia’s unsophisticated palate in his column at Eating Las Vegas, and Tony leaped to his wife’s defense on Twitter, calling the column “idiotic” and “based on a false premise” (which was where they stayed, which supposedly housed the offending restaurant) — and Tony even stooped to spelling the columnist’s name “Curtass.”

The foodie world went into overdrive trying to ascertain the chef, throwing names around that included Tony’s pal, Mario Batali. But finally the culprit revealed himself to be Charlie Palmer. Since Ottavia didn’t send the steak back, Palmer rued being unable to make things right on the spot and apologized.

On the other hand, you have to appreciate Ottavia’s dilemma. Sitting there with the well-recognized Bourdain, she either had to choke down that steak or earn herself the reputation of being Tony’s picky-eater-bitch-wife.

Personally, I think she took the high road. There’s no sin in describing a bad meal, yet much virtue in concealing who prepared it if the intent isn’t to slam the chef.

And there’s nothing more amusing than watching foodies work themselves into a lather over a freaking steak, how it was cooked, and who cooked it. If the words “GET A LIFE!” have any significant context, this is it.

Moving on to the must-see Web TV department…

Eric Ripert has a new web series, On the Table, on the Reserve Channel, and Tony was his first guest. Without a doubt, it’s the most candid, natural, and informative interview I’ve ever seen Bourdain do. Eric knows Tony so well, he provided the perfect atmosphere (they cooked together in a home-like kitchen), asked the right questions to get Tony on new ground, and provides a bit of commentary on his best friend. It’s in 3 parts for about 22 minutes.

As a sidebar, talking to Grub Street with Eric about that show, Tony revealed that Ariane is a big Katie Perry fan and has a crush on Ripert’s son, among other things.

Other news…

If you’re interested in Get Jiro! (which took the No. 1 spot on the NY Times Bestseller List for graphic novels), Tony talked to MTVGeek about it at San Diego Comic-Con recently.

Here’s another Comic-Con interview.

July 30-Aug. 5, Bourdain will be hosting “Mob Week” movies on AMC in prime time.

Treme Season 3 begins September 23 with 10 episodes, and Tony is back, writing the New Orleans restaurant subplot for Janette.

And if owning one copy isn’t enough for you, a new edition of Kitchen Confidential is coming out this fall, with Bourdain’s handwritten margin updates.


May Be the Company Bourdain Keeps

September 13, 2011

By Karen

Once again, Anthony Bourdain was nominated for an Emmy, for Outstanding Writing on No Reservations: Haiti, only to lose to some guy named Stanley Nelson who wrote Freedom Riders for PBS.

No Res did take home the statue for best Cinematography (well-deserved and Congratulations!), but lost as Best Nonfiction Series to American Masters on PBS.

Maybe it’s just me, but are you beginning to see a pattern here? Could it be that Tony’s getting no respect because being Travel Channel’s “biggest star” is a dubious achievement? After all, he’s shining among such stellar programming as Truck Stop Missouri, Man v. Food Nation, Mancations, Sand Castles, Ghost Adventures, and Bizarre Foods.

Bourdain has just been named a consulting editor who will acquire 3-5 books a year for for his publisher, HarperCollins, under the Ecco imprint (check out the new logo). Presumably, he’ll also be writing for Season 3 of Treme, and that chef he had working for all his NYC buddies in Season 2 will stop being irrelevant and return to New Orleans.

Bourdain’s career seems to be taking a decidedly literary turn, so he may have to stop treating his writing so dismissively. No longer playing that balls-and-bug-eating Andrew Zimmern’s role model can only be a good thing.

On September 11, Tony did a relaxed, beer-fueled 2 ½-hour podcast with Joe Rogan. Among many things, Tony said he still wants to go to the Congo, but Mozambique is in the cards sooner.

Finally, in the Tony’s Friends Department…

Marge Simpson dreams of being on Top Chef in The Simpsons’ season premier on September 25, and Tom Colicchio makes an appearance. No word on Padma.

And I read this insightful opinion piece at SeaCoastOnline.com about celebrity chefs who pretend to be actors.


A Case of Bourdain Burnout

July 11, 2011

By Karen

My waning interest in Bourdainia has been a long time coming. Travel Channel stomped on my last nerve with this one-and-a-half-page ad in Entertainment Weekly for the new Cuba episode of No Reservations, which airs tonight…

Season premiere? Season 8? What happened to Season 7, which disappeared after 8 episodes nearly 3 months ago? Was Tony’s trip to Haiti just filler?

And what’s suddenly so fucking special about Cuba? Andrew Zimmern was there for the first episode of Bizarre World — in 2009. Here’s the dramatic full page of Tony’s EW ad…

 

And there’s another one floating around, with Tony sitting on a curb in Havana.

Anyway, TC, you win. Figuring out when No Res will air is a game for your ideal demographic — young males who think road trips to BBQ competitions contitute “travel.”

The Bourdains themselves now run a slick PR machine on Twitter @NoReservations and @OttaviaBourdain, and most of Tony’s friends and crew tweet. Tony regularly tweets pictures and links to articles about himself. Eater.com does regular posts about him, with his cooperation.

I feel as if Cats Working’s job is done.

Several years ago, I asked Tony for a Cats Working interview. He declined, saying he didn’t want to endorse a blog that discussed his personal life.

That was long before he embraced the blogosphere, Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr, but I’ve never seen him utter “Cats Working” to a soul unless he was talking to me.

I’ve grown wary of much of his hyperbole. I thought chef Gabrielle Hamilton’s memoir, Blood, Bones & Butter, was spottily disingenuous and certainly not a book Tony should have wished he had written.

I just watched both seasons of Treme, the HBO series about post-Katrina New Orleans that Tony has called one of the greatest shows ever, if not the greatest. In Season 2, he wrote the scenes for the chef character, Janette, who moved to New York and worked for Bourdain’s network of BFFs: Colicchio, Ripert, and Chang. They all had cameos.

Bourdain was asked to write for Treme so those marginally relevant scenes would be authentic.

Here’s a news flash: Only the tiny fraction of the population who actually works in restaurants knows (or cares). And if they’re as poorly paid as Tony says, it’s unlikely they get HBO anyway.

Sad to say, I found Tony’s work kind of lifeless, except for the scene where Janette tosses a drink in Alan Richman’s face. Some of his dialog was even retread.

If Bourdain writes for Season 3, I’m taking a miss. Not because of him, but because too many of the characters have such terrible diction, I’ve spent, literally, hours watching scenes where I caught one word in 10 with the volume maxed out, and had no idea what was happening.

Ditto for Top Chef, where Tony sometimes guest-judges. Watching hard-working chefs sabotaged so their dishes can be pooh-poohed by nitpicking snobs is not my idea of entertainment. Host Tom Colicchio seems like a nice guy, but I’ll never take his opinion seriously until he sheds the bimbo sidekick, Padma.

I knew my disaffection was complete when saw that Tony’s getting a new Travel Channel series, 24-Hour Layovers, and thought, “Now they’re sweeping the cutting-room floor.”

But apparently not. Tony tweeted he went to Singapore and Hong Kong for new shows.

If TC ever actually airs it, I’ll watch, just to see if Tony & ZPZ really can put Samantha Brown to shame. Poor Samantha. She’s like TC’s Rodney Dangerfield.

From now on, I’m letting Tony do his own thing and expanding our horizons here. If there are any interesting Bourdain developments that he doesn’t totally scoop me on, I’ll share them. But you can better get the latest news straight from him — and tweet him directly @NoReservations.

Bourdain fans, I hope you’ll still stick around, but if you don’t, the cats and I thank you for stopping by.


Bourdain Moonlighting on MasterChef?

June 6, 2011

By Karen

This is confusing…

While Anthony Bourdain was at the Sydney Writers’ Festival in mid-May, Digital Spy reported that he and Marco Pierre White filmed guest spots on the Australian version of the amateur cooking competition, MasterChef. That show was inspired by Gordon Ramsay’s original show in the U.K. Ramsay also does an American version, and Season 2 happens to premiere tonight on Fox at 8 p.m. (ET).

Australia’s Herald Sun reported that Bourdain will appear as a “mentor” on a NYC episode of the Aussie MasterChef when they fly some contestants to the Big Apple for a week. No air date was given. 

Now back in November, Hollywood Reporter asked Bourdain his opinion of MasterChef and Tony called Ramsay’s U.S. version “dreadful,” citing Top Chef as the “benchmark” for assessing such shows.

Yikes! If any show where Padma Lakshmi’s “expert” opinion counts for anything is where Tony sets the bar, how could anyone else possibly crawl any lower?

Also while in Australia, Bourdain did a Quick Fire interview with Not Quite Nigella where he seems to be going off the idea of someday moving to Italy, and Ottavia apparently has a lot to do with that.

He also gave an extensive interview to SBSfood and rattled off a quick recipe for pork rillettes.

If you follow the Bourdains on Twitter, you probably know that on the evening of May 24, Ottavia worked on the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck parked at 17th St. and Broadway in NYC for a few hours to raise money for Doctors Without Borders (Tony promised to match whatever she raised), and Tony showed up before his book-signing at a nearby Barnes &Noble to watch his better half sling a few cones.

Eater.com has many video clips of the Q&A Tony did later at B&N.

Travel Channel posts video of Tony chatting with ZPZ producer Tracy Gudwin about flipping underwear in a pinch on the road. She’s the woman who had to have a leech pulled off her ass in Malaysia.

TheDailyMeal.com ranked the top 25 Most Successful Chefs in America, and Bourdain made the list at No. 18, one notch above Emeril Lagasse. But from what I could gather from the story, this ranking was based on no facts and much wildly irrelevant conjecture (like the annual sales of Les Halles).

Eater continues to post scenes from Treme that Tony wrote. This one stars Eric Ripert.

Bourdain blogs on Inside Treme about the “real” Le Bernardin.

Art imitates life in Bourdain’s Treme connection. Janette, the character he’s writing for, will be working in a NYC David Chang-inspired restaurant called Lucky Peach, which is the name of Chang’s new real-life magazine.


Bourdainia Galore!

May 25, 2011

By Karen

I’m playing catch-up with DVDs of Treme, the HBO New Orleans series Anthony Bourdain has been writing for. After the first 2 episodes of Season 1, I’m still waiting to feel hooked, but I’m optimistic. Luckily, the Internet teems with video clips of the restaurant scenes Tony is doing for Season 2, which is airing now.

For example, here’s the scene of food critic Alan Richman taking a drink in the puss. Richman wrote about that later in GQ and actually seemed to be a good sport about it.

Tony also gave Tom Colicchio and Eric Ripert cameos with lines, and then Tom talked to Esquire about the experience.

A video of Tony speaking to HuffPost Food has been surfacing in pieces. He discussed which foods he’d like to see more of in the U.S. and modified his stance on bacon. He also talked about things he’ll never do — which we’ve already seen him do — and manages to lump Jay Leno in with strolling through steaming bat guano and being mounted by an Uzbek masseur.

In this video clip from PopEater, Tony talks about celebrities.

Last week, Bourdain was in Australia for the Sydney Writers’ Festival and did a video interview with MUmBRELLA where, among other things, he shared his thoughts on the value of Facebook and Twitter. 

At the Sydney festival, he appeared in a sold-out session on May 19 with AA Gill. Links to the full audio are under May 21 at 3 p.m., but they seem screwed up. Click “Download” to just listen.

If you don’t want to do that, Book Thingo provides a written recap and a snippet of illicit video taken from the audience.

Here’s a recap on another appearance Tony made at the festival called “Medium Raw,” which also sold out.

While rooting around for the festival stuff, I found a phone interview Tony did with ABC Sydney back in July 2010 that I don’t recall ever hearing.

On the literary front…

Bourdain will be a contributor to a new quarterly food journal, Lucky Peach, edited by David Chang and others, which debuts June 14. Each issue will have a theme, and the first one is ramen. According to the site, it’s the sister project to “an iPad app produced by Zero Point Zero that will feature more than two hours of videos, plus recipes, art, and essays.” Right now, the site is features a conversation on mediocrity among Bourdain, Chang, and Wylie Dufresne.

Tucson Weekly is critical of Bourdain’s involvement with Treme (2nd paragraph from the end). The writer seems to have an outdated image of Tony’s persona, but from the clips I’ve seen on Eater, I find myself relating somewhat to his unfoodie perspective. But that’s fodder for a future post.

I found this fascinating site on tumblr called Fuck Yes, Tony Bourdain! It’s devoted to photos, video clips, and quotes.

Finally, Travel Channel posted a video clip of Tony discussing his job with his adult niece, Isabelle.


Do Clowns Really Scare Bourdain?

May 16, 2011

By Karen

I must have missed something because this tidbit was news to me: A columnist in the Nashua (NH) Telegraph recently reported that Anthony Bourdain suffers from coulrophobia, the fear of clowns.

Is it possible that grinning, floppy-footed Ronald is really at the root of Tony’s hatred for all things McDonald’s? Will Tony ever be able to take Ariane to the circus?

Travel Channel’s suspension of Season 7 of No Reservations has entered its third week. In fact, they’ve given the show’s 9 p.m. time slot tonight to a new series called Off Limits, but you can catch a few NRs being shown repeatedly all around that hour.

Bourdain should be heading to Australia this week for an appearance at the Sydney Writers’ Festival.

Eater.com posted a good 2-part interview with Bourdain. In part 1, he discussed James Beard, how “World’s 50 Best” lists are really compiled, and Ferran Adrià.

In part 2, he talked about Treme, the future of No Res, and selling out.

Speaking of James Beard, his Foundation just announced they intend to award four $5K scholarships to “Immigrants in the Kitchen,” which seems like kind of a condescending label for it. This comes hot on the heels of Bourdain’s numerous jabs at the group’s overwhelming whiteness, but they claim they’ve been working on it a long time.

Here’s an amusing little undated video clip of Tony and Eric Ripert sitting at a table with Martha Stewart around a bowl of durian, discussing which foods turns them on.

Tony contributed a post to the Inside Treme blog. I just put Season 1 at the top of my Netflix list so I can start bringing myself up to speed on his new script-writing venture.

Fans have been collecting Bourdainisms over at Facebook.

Tony was recently on Nightline. I read about this weeks ago, tried to tape it, and got squat because I think it was bumped. But good old Eater never gave up and caught it.

Medium Raw came out in paperback about 2 weeks ago and shot to No. 7 on the New York Times Bestseller List.


Happy Birthday, Ottavia Bourdain

April 25, 2011

By Karen

April is a month for celebrating in the Bourdain household. First Ariane’s birthday on the 9th, a wedding anniversary on the 20th, and wife Ottavia celebrates her birthday on April 28. Cats Working wishes Ottavia a great one, and many more!

Meanwhile, Tony has been off shooting No Reservations on the West Coast. Tonight, tune in for another new episode in Hokkaido in northern Japan. Here’s the promo clip. (Sorry I couldn’t insert it from Travel Channel’s website, a veritable monument to inconsistency, bad schedule info, and general suckitude.)

Tony blogged most eloquently about his recent meal at El Bulli, Ferran Adrià’s restaurant in Spain that’s closing forever this summer. The event was captured for an upcoming NR episode.

According to Tony, we all have Ferran Adrià to thank for the very existence of No Res. Tony and his crew shot “Decoding Ferran Adrià” on faith and used it as the pilot for the show that eventually found a home on the Travel Channel.

Last week, Tony appeared on The Joy Behar Show on CNN. Eater posted the video. Behar mentioned that Medium Raw in paperback will be available in May. Amazon says May 3.

Bourdain’s BFF, Eric Ripert, prepared lamb on the Today Show on April 22 and was asked to describe Tony in one word. He answered, “grain of salt,” and explained why.

NorthJersey.com provides a bit more background on Tony’s involvement as a writer on HBO’s series, Treme, which began its second season last night. Bourdain’s in charge of the New York thread, and his feelings for Alan Richman, whom he added as a character, don’t seem to have softened appreciably.

I’m reading Gabrielle Hamilton’s memoir, Blood, Bones & Butter mainly because Bourdain raves about it. BTW, they are co-hosting a lamb roast fundraiser on April 29 in NYC to benefit the Bronx Academy of Letters, if you’re in the neighborhood.

I’m just getting into “Bones” after feeling no qualms about skipping a chicken-killing scene that wrapped up “Blood.” I’ll reserve judgment, but confess that I’m not feeling hooked yet.


Will Bourdain Eat Beans in Boston?

April 18, 2011

By Karen

Tonight Anthony Bourdain eats and drinks his way through Boston in a new No Reservations episode named “Know Your Enemy” (because he’s a Yankees fan). I think he’s tweeting live @NoReservations during the broadcast. He talked to Boston.com and they provide some background. And here’s the promo…

If you’re interested in the quotable Bourdain from the Amazon episode in Brazil last week, Eater’s got the best one-liners.

In the “Friends of Tony Bourdain” department…

For the past week, Tony has been tweeting from Spain, mainly photos of food. He’s been hanging out with chef Jose Andres while filming NR, a tribute to Ferran Adrià’s restaurant, El Bulli, which he’s closing to launch an advanced culinary academy.

The Bellingham (Wash.) Herald interviewed Sandra Lee during a visit there, and this is just one of her semi-sweet digs at Bourdain…

“I bet he’s a really nice guy. … I think he’s really talented,” she said. “I’m going to love the day when he doesn’t need to drop my name and say nasty things about anyone to get exposure and press.”

The article mentioned that Lee will be selling a cookware line she designed at Sears and Kmart, and that all 23 of her books are self-published because no “real” publisher would touch her first semi-homemade cookbook.

As a counterpoint, A.V. Club interviewed Brian Roberts of Ha Ha Tonka, the band that played on the recent NR Ozarks episode, and here’s part of what he said about Tony….

AVC: Is he as cool as he comes off on TV?

BR: He is just as cool — if not cooler. Really, really nice guy — he hung out with us for like 10 hours.

A food writer at Chicagoist describes a very strange encounter where the renowned chef Grant Achatz allegedly behaved like an asshole at his new restaurant, the Aviary.

The Harvard Business Review just published a podcast they did with Tony on “Why Leaders Should Eat with the Locals.” Among other things, he talks about what motivated him to take over his Twitter account @NoReservations.

Cats Working wishes the Bourdains a Happy Anniversary on April 20.

If you get HBO, Season 2 of Treme, begins on April 24 with Bourdain as one of the writers.


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