Anthony Bourdain kept the Portland, Oregon audience laughing through his 90-minute show on July 28, 2015. True to his No Reservations screen persona and his several books, he poked fun at celebrity chefs, the Food Network and food trends.
After dissing Guy Fieri’s style and Guytalian nachos, Bourdain noted that he himself has had to ditch the Ramones t-shirt and mature since becoming a father. His daughter worships Alton Brown and her second grade class wants only to hear more details about Andrew Zimmern.
Now he chooses his lecture tour cities based on which have a good jujitsu academy. He hadn’t eaten anything in Portland because it doesn’t pair with sparring. His wife is a better fighter, with the specialty of leglocker. For this reason he joked, “I don’t train with her and I don’t cheat on her.”
Bourdain believes we eat better today since the phenomenon of celebrity chefs. Before Emeril, nobody cared who the chef was in the kitchen and what he might think. But who, he asks, is better qualified to tell you what to eat than the chef? Meanwhile, it’s becoming harder to find chefs to compete on his reality show The Taste because every chef they contact is either cooking on a reality show or judging on one. The “random kook” contestants cycle from show to show, often changing accents and persona.
We get judged for our food choices. If he strays into the non-organic section of the market with his daughter, the Real Housewives of New York look at him like he’s a war criminal and start calling child protective services. “I don’t know if organic milk is better, but I don’t want my daughter going through puberty at age 9.”
Bourdain poked fun at farm-to-table restaurants. “Doesn’t all food come from a farm and is served on a table?” What it really means, he said, is that the side of asparagus is $10.99.
The audience in Beervana Portland laughed loudly as he pilloried craft beer culture. He thinks it’s just wrong to go into a bar at mid-day and see people surrounded by tiny tasting glasses of beer. “I get more sh** from beer nerds. Do you know what beer I like? Cold beer. It’s cold, it’s local, it’s good enough for me, so STFU!”
He had special irritation for people who self-diagnose as gluten intolerant. Shouldn’t they go to a doctor before ruining his dinner party? “Look around the non-industrial world, there’s not a lot of gluten intolerance, they can’t afford it.”
When traveling the world, food is an entree to conversation and sharing. “You can’t refuse it and ask for a salad.” He says he says yes to everything, otherwise “it’s like going to the Louvre and only viewing the color blue.”
He invokes the Grandma rule when traveling. When you’re at Grandma’s house, you eat what Grandma puts on the table and thank her. Sometimes this means he eats a half-raw piece of gamey meat, knowing he’s “taking one for the team.”
Bourdain says he was amazed at the success of his first book, Kitchen Confidential, which he thought would only be read by other NYC chefs. It led to his Cooks Tour, No Reservations, and The Layover series. He has great freedom from CNN to go wherever his wishes and gets no network notes on what to include or exclude, “because they see what happened when the other two networks did that.”
Given any place in the world he would have to move to from his beloved New York City, he’d probably choose Vietnam. He might love the life of a Tuscan farmer/winemaker, but his Italian wife finds Tuscany as boring as New Jersey. If he had to eat every meal the rest of his life in one city, it would be Tokyo.
The show was a great success in Portland, even if it covered familiar ground to those who have read his books and watched his series.