11 October 2007

Chef's Story

I caught an episode of Chef's Story last night. If you aren't familiar with it, its basically Inside The Actors Studio for foodies. The brutally familiar Dorothy Hamilton is the host, and its not a bad show. Although I caught her interviewing that dude Marcus Samuelsson once and I wanted to reach through the TV and strangle him; I found him so fucking annoying and abstract. Dude, you're a fucking cook so relax, Picasso and Beethoven were artists, K?

So last night Dorothy was interviewing Anthony Bourdain; whom I happen to adore. I devoured his book "Kitchen Confidential" on a tour through Europe a few years ago and by the time we returned to the states, he was a rock star; the chef du jour if you will.

I must admit I don't really buy skinny chefs. I think chefs should be rotund, and the women, zaftig. Other than that, Bourdain is legit; even if he is quite slight. I enjoy the way he defies and exposes the pomposity and lunacy of chefdom and never takes himself too seriously. If you haven't read "Kitchen Confidential" yet I urge you to do so, his follow-up "The Nasty Bits" is a great read as well.

I suppose Bourdain was destined for rock stardom. His No Reservations show on The Travel Channel is basically a Guns N' Roses tour video from 1987. Bourdain smokes like a diesel engine, drinks like a typhoon and will taste or try anything the locals lay on his plate. I guess what should I expect, he grew up in Leonia. He likens vegetarians and vegans to the Hezbollah. You can't help but smirk...

"To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living. Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, and an affront to all I stand for, the pure enjoyment of food. The body, these waterheads imagine, is a temple that should not be polluted by animal protein. It's healthier, they insist, though every vegetarian waiter I've worked with is brought down by any rumor of a cold. Oh, I'll accommodate them, I'll rummage around for something to feed them, for a 'vegetarian plate', if called on to do so. Fourteen dollars for a few slices of grilled eggplant and zucchini suits my food cost fine."
But later, he continues:
"I don't like to see animals in pain. That was very uncomfortable to me. I don't like factory farming. I'm not an advocate for the meat industry."

I suppose I'm a sucker for an outspoken schizophrenic with a penchant for the duality of man theorem. I also enjoy Bourdain because he'll work in a Rachael Ray diss wherever and whenever he can. Chef beef, I love it!

Rachael is a sweetheart to the animals, namely and most importantly pit bulls, and for that I think she's infinitely amazing and compassionate, however, and as I've said before, I also think she's an evil devil spawn plotting to take over the free world as we know it. And Bourdain has my back:
"She's got a magazine, a TV empire, all these best-selling books - I'm guessing she's not hurting for money. She's hugely influential, particularly with children. And she's endorsing Dunkin' Donuts. It's like endorsing crack for kids. I'm not a very ethical guy. I don't have a lot of principles. But somehow that seems to me over the line. Juvenile diabetes has exploded. Half of Americans don't have necks. And she's up there saying, 'Eat some fucking Dunkin' Donuts. You look great in that swimsuit - eat another doughnut!' That's evil."

that smile looks painful

Bourdain fully expressed his feelings about certain Food Network personalities in a now famous blog entry from February 2007. Bourdain recognises the irony of his transformation into a celebuchef and has, to some extent, begun to qualify his insults.

He has been consistently outspoken in his praise for chefs he admires, particularly Thomas Keller, Masa Takayama, Gordon Ramsay, Eric Ripert, Ferran AdriĆ , Fergus Henderson, Marco Pierre White, and Mario Batali, whom I happen to fucking hate.

His most recent book, The Nasty Bits, is dedicated to "Joey, Johnny, and Dee Dee". Bourdain has declared fond appreciation for their music, as well as other early punk bands such as Dead Boys, Television and The Voidoids.

In Kitchen Confidential he said that the playing of music by Billy Joel in his kitchen was grounds for immediate firing. In a No Reservations episode in Sweden, Bourdain proclaimed that his all time favourite album (his "desert island disc") is the groundbreaking punk record "Fun House" by The Stooges while revealing that he despises Swedish pop supergroup ABBA. Yes, but Erasure doing ABBA is right on.

In July 2006 Bourdain was in Beirut filming an episode of No Reservations when the Israel-Lebanon conflict broke out. Bourdain and his crew were evacuated with other American citizens on the morning of July 20 by the U.S. Marines.

Despite having filmed only one restaurant before fighting began, Bourdain's producers compiled the Beirut footage into an episode which aired on August 21, 2006. Uncharacteristically, the episode included footage of both Bourdain and his production staff, and included not only their initial attempts to film the episode, but also their firsthand encounters with Hezbollah supporters, their days of waiting for news with other expatriates in a Beirut hotel, and their eventual escape aided by a "cleaner" who Bourdain dubbed "Mr.Wolf", a reference to the self-proclaimed problem-solver in Pulp Fiction. The episode was nominated for an Emmy Award on July 18, 2007.

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