The Bourdain Identity
by Kate Heyhoe
If you've just crawled out from under a rock, I can understand if you've never heard of Anthony Bourdain. You know, the "Hunter-S-Thompson-morphs-with-Spalding-Gray" of the food world. The bestselling author of Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, a book which turned the restaurant community on its ear with Bourdain's rants, raves, plain truths, bald-faced lies and outrageous opinions. The book that screamed in black and white what so many professional chefs had murmured among themselves but never would admit to openly. Sex, drugs, rock 'n' roll. Not backstage at the Fillmore, but behind the scenes of famous and not so famous restaurants. All this, unleashed by the executive chef at the acclaimed Brasserie Les Halles in New York.
Even if you don't read books, as a foodie you must have seen the guy on television. His 22-part series called A Cook's Tour airs weekly on the Food Channel. And that brings me to the whole topic of A Cook's Tour: In Search of the Perfect Meal, which is a multi-media extravaganza; you can buy it in book form, watch it on TV as I said, and even listen to it on audio cassette or CD. More than six hours of vivid food tales, seasoned with attitude, read by the author himself.
Living in the country, where the nearest source of goat cheese is a full hour's drive away, I'm a big fan of books-on-tape as highway entertainment. Cookbooks, of course, leave much to be desired when it comes to audio entertainment. But Bourdain's books are decidedly not about recipes. They are entirely about food, cooking, eating, living, and social commentary. All set in a personal perspective and nothing namby-pamby. You don't need to be a dedicated foodie to be affected by Bourdain's words. I doubt anyone would likely walk away from a Bourdain experience without feeling impacted, fulfilled, or violated in some way.
I've excerpted below from Anthony Bourdain's book, A Cook's Tour, a chapter which is just one adventure in Bourdain's quest for the perfect meal. This tale takes place in Portugal, where an entire village has been fattening a pig for months in anticipation of the author's arrival. It's not a story for the squeamish.
By the way, film buffs take note: Bourdain's book Kitchen Confidential is being turned into a movie. Or rather, a film is in production loosely based on Kitchen Confidential, called "Seared" starring Brad Pitt as our chef hero who has a love affair with a New York food critic (not part of the book). "Seared," directed by David Fincher (Seven, Fight Club), also stars Benecio Del Torro, and is slated for a 2003 release.
Bourdain has been hired to be a technical consultant. Somehow I can't imagine pretty-boy Pitt chasing staff members around the kitchen grasping a ten-inch chef's knife, but I can easily visualize Bourdain chasing Pitt around, wielding kitchen weapons and flaming cigarettes, training the actor for realistic culinary battles. For Bourdain fans like me, the making of the movie may be actually more interesting than the film itself. Stay tuned.
Anthony Bourdain Excerpts
About A Cook's Tour
"Where Food Comes From"
from A Cook's Tour
"Food Is Good"
from Kitchen Confidential:
Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly
Copyright © 2003, Kate Heyhoe. All rights reserved.
This page created March 2003