Anthony Bourdain
Chef, author, traveler, eater
RadioKitchen Archives
I am getting this image from the bits and pieces in my research: He's a culinary globetrotter, on TV every week from a new exotic location. He's a Chef (Les Halles in Manhattan), which he describes as getting to "swan around in a chef's jacket taking credit for other's toil." His PR calls him sexy and a bad boy. I am getting an image.

I'm hearing the theme from "Shaft" in my head, along with some different words. "Who's the sexy cook, traveling the world, eating everything in sight? CHEF! You're damn right!"

He is one of the hottest culinary personalities of our day. He is Anthony Bourdain, author of the wildly popular "Kitchen Confidential" (Ecco Press), now in several languages. Tony confides, "I get these late-night drunken calls from, like Germany and Australia. From burned out line cooks, who are calling me, 'Dude, you wrote my life!'"

And while some might just ride their 15 minutes of fame, Tony is milking it! He's now putting together a second season of "A Cooks Tour" on the Food Network and its companion book from Ecco Press.

But, Tony doesn't go for that kind of "sexy-Chef-image" thing. He knows better. Tony doesn't see anything attractive about being a chef. According to him, chefs are smelly, obsessive, work-aholic, drunks. What's so sexy about that?

What it IS is a family. A group of guys and gals, wherever they cook, anywhere in the world, sharing a passion for the stress, the need for heat and sharp knives, the need to perform, and the need to provide more than just basic sustenance. In the cooking world we're crazy about making it "perfect." We share those needs. Some appreciation and love along the way would be nice, too.

We get to go along for the ride as we follow Tony through the culinary looking glass. Looking through a kaleidoscope of weird food and strange language, all in the name of a "perfect" meal. But with an underlying universality: People gotta eat and people gotta make the food so people can eat.

And at the edge of the civilized world, in third world countries, that doesn't always mean white tablecloths and polished silver. Tony and I share a love for the street food of Southeast Asia. He loves Vietnam and I love Thailand, both with a strong heritage of GREAT street food.

But you have to be brave. Taking the easy way may not be the best. When I was a boy, we lived in Bangkok, Thailand, and my brother and I ate off of every street vendor we could find. The food was great. On the other hand, my dad got dysentery eating lunch at the large, western-owned chain hotel across from his Bangkok office. Go figure.

In Tony's words: "To eat without fear. To eat everything in sight, whether you know what it is or not. Go where locals go, you know, eat whatever they're eating." Sounds good to me. Chef! You're damn right!

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