Bourdain fans, and those who just know his name and reputation, would not have been disappointed with the show opening. He came out swinging—tossing the F-bomb liberally and putting his culinary rivals in the crosshairs. Anthony Bourdain’s infamous feud with Paula Dean was the first to be addressed with a montage of photos projected on a huge screen. The full house was treated to several compromising shots of Dean doing anything from licking celebrity chef Robert Irvine’s abs (wtf?) to kissing Chef Mario Batali.
Bourdain said he respected Batali and considered the guy behind Dean—Chef Michael Symon—his friend but “look at him, he’s smiling?!” At this point you know Bourdain is side stepping the herd and letting everyone know he’s on his own here. He’s a celebrity, he’s a chef; but when it comes to getting with the program he didn’t sign up (not with Food Network at least.) Though he did say he needs to cash in on his celebrity through substance abuse treatments or action figures. If everyone else was doing it why shouldn’t he?
Chef Anthony Bourdain’s national Guts & Glory tour is hitting about 20 cities, and the audience will listen to him tell his story “with few, if any, reservations.” Since his book Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly broke out on the scene in 2000, he has been the straight-talking everyman people looked up to for the truth behind the food we’re all eating in restaurants. The feuds, past issues with substance abuse, and his role as a father are laid out. There is a stand-up feel to the show but he isn’t there solely for laughs—he has a several opinions he’s going to tell you about.
Another TV personality he apparently doesn’t care for is Guy Fieri the conductor of the train to Flavortown. A few descriptions of Fieri were tossed out along the lines of a “Ed Hardy Jugaloo”, a product of Billy Idol having sex with a panda, and the plain ole “douchebag.”
I’ll admit I was laughing with everyone else.
Bourdain wanted to let everyone know that the shows weren’t all fun and games for him and the crew. A couple of clips on the screen show him being rolled over by an ATV he was driving, all the while his producer making sure the crew was catching the action with Anthony as an afterthought. Bourdain got back at his team by showing videos of mishaps on location and one where a producer had to have a bug pulled off her hip. He was gracious enough to show a close up of her derriere and point out that the tag on her underwear was inside out; most likely because they were “day 2 undies.”
Fast food and chain restaurants in American society aren’t spared either. At one point he says when he passes by an Olive Garden he wants to “stop and pull out a tire iron” to straighten them out to the pleasure of the audience. I know most of those people are some Olive Garden lovin’ people too—I’ll even eat the hell out of some zuppa Tuscana sometimes. You could see the disgust on his face when he recited the fact that 60 percent of Americans prefer chicken wings without the bones. He said the laziness behind that fact showed we were out of touch with our food and health. He caveated that with the general knowledge that his life hasn’t been a model of healthy living.
Talking about fast food he said they hooked the kids when they were young and there was no way to reason with children—they want that kids meal they saw on TV! To prevent children from ever wanting fast food he suggested that parents could claim that children went missing because they ate at McDonald’s. Another method was taking a child’s favorite doll, removing the head, covering it in chocolate, and then allowing the kid to bite into it only to see the doll’s eye staring back at them. “Scaring the shit” out of them is what I think he said; he believes this would work! If anyone tries this, let me know. I’m curious, my kids are too old for this to work anymore.
In his travels around the world Bourdain explained that people should be good guests to their hosts. Preconceived notions of foreigners in a country can be overcome by the love of food and respecting what is offered to the traveler. Bourdain praised the benefit of good “fixers” and “handlers” when travelling sketchy countries; there were times—he claims—when they would have all been put in jail if it weren’t for the local fixers they hired to get them through their host country. Some of the perils of being a good guest had to do with eating things he wouldn’t normally enjoy; in his own words, “dicks” and “assholes.” He claimed to have his fair share of eating dick, but he had a hard time understanding how fellow Travel Channel star Andrew Zimmern of Bizarre Foods ate “dick, dick, dick, dick, dick, dick…” all the time! The crowd roared. I failed to mention that earlier I thought I might try to count the number of times he used a derivative of the word “fuck” in the show. I quit after 5 minutes, I would be counting the whole time and unable to pay attention to his act.
His stories of world travel also included characters he’s met in the U.S., Ted Nugent being one. The most hate mail he received for any episode of his show was when he chummed it up with Nugent. Bourdain has no issues tell anyone he’s left leaning, but when two people like BBQ and beer, that’s enough sometimes. Talking about vegetarians he started off with saying he kind of considers himself an animal activist. He doesn’t believe people should harvest leather (I wish I could have gotten a better look at his belt and boots) and animal testing should be illegal. He even went so far as to say, “Yeah, you know that Crocodile Hunter? I think he got what he deserved”; laying out that when you go around poking crocodiles with sticks, you’re asking for it. The audience spattered with groans and laughter. (For the record—Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter, was killed by a stingray of all things.) Vegetarians, he said, can afford to stick to principle when in the U.S. There are countries where people are vegetarians because they have to be and “it sucks!” You can’t turn down a meal with meat if the village killed their only chicken to honor you.
The rest of his act included his daughter (he loves her), KFC Mac & Cheese is his secret love and shame, and how to do drugs on TV: you can’t inhale, but exhaling is ok. The show ended with an audience Q&A. The last question was from a kid who started with, “I just wanted to say thanks for being fucking real!” Anthony’s response, “Watch your language, young man.”
He closed with a statement that Americans have gone a little overboard with the whole food celebrity thing but he’s ok with “milking it just a little bit longer.”