Chef, author, traveler, eater
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
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
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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