Full Plate: Anthony Bourdain

Bourdain-wsj

The chef-turned-television host on the world’s cuisine, the ‘absurd’ foodie culture and why he has left restaurants behind

editor-commen-deskIf you’ve read “Kitchen Confidential“, you’ll know you can’t think of restaurant food quite the same way. Bourdain’s hipster wise-ass writing style is actually funnier and more memorable than his tv travel show narration style, I think, but the sensibility is the same. Best night to eat out, according to Anthony? Tuesday, his book says. I dined once at Le Halles in New York, where he was (and perhaps still is) executive chef, and even though it wasn’t a Tuesday, the food was great. The book that made Anthony Bourdain a household name remains a favorite of mine, I’ve probably given away more than one copy. Here’s at taste of this weekend’s Wall Street Journal profile of Bourdain, go here to read the whole thing.

“Are you here to see the chef?” whispers a waiter at Sant Ambroeus restaurant in Southampton, N.Y. He’s not referring to the restaurant’s actual chef but to chef-turned-television host Anthony Bourdain, kitchen-confidentialwho is sitting outside on the patio.

[Check out Anthony’s book Kitchen Confidential Updated Edition: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly at Amazon]

Although Mr. Bourdain now focuses his career on showcasing world cuisine rather than creating his own dishes, to the waiters and busboys eagerly refilling his coffee cup, at least, he’s still “Chef.”

“Bourdain once described Vladimir Putin’s face as being as taut as a Real Housewife’s.”

He earned his title: He spent nearly 30 years as a cook and a chef before writing his best-selling book “Kitchen Confidential” in 2000. That led to a series of television shows. His current show, “Parts Unknown” on CNN, which has won three Emmy Awards, provides a look at the culture and cuisine of different cities world-wide; its fourth season begins on Sept. 28. (Watch a promo for “Parts Unknown: Russia.”)

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He still remembers his days in the kitchen well. “Most of my life I’ve been a pretty pessimistic guy, and I’ve had a pretty dark view of human nature,” he says, referring to how he used to see the world from the kitchen. It’s taken touring around the globe to turn him into a reluctant optimist.

“I assumed humans were basically bad people and if you stumbled…you would be devoured. I don’t believe that anymore.”

He likes going to controversial locales, and he doesn’t hesitate to criticize world leaders, if only in jest. (Mr. Bourdain once described Vladimir Putin‘s face as being as taut as a Real Housewife’s.) He hopes that his shows offer a new perspective on foreign locations.

“We like to be good, we aspire to do good things, and we’re generally trudging through life trying to do the best we can.”

The images of troubled places from many television outlets are of “kids throwing rocks and women weeping,” he says. But if you show up and ask, “What’s for dinner?” you get a more intimate look at people’s lives.

Mr. Bourdain grew up in New York City and later in New Jersey, the son of a record-executive father and a newspaper-editor mother….(read more)

WSJ



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