photo courtesy of Discovery
I’ll admit to being a total television junkie. I love my idiot box. And I’m a master at channel surfing. Nothing annoys S more than my ability to watch 3-4 shows simultaneously by switching back and forth between them every few minutes. Of course, some shows need to be savoured in their entirety. Good shows. Some of my recent favourites include Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, Entourage and America’s Next Top Model (yeah, yeah, I have plebian tastes). I also really like Anthony Bourdain’s show. I’ve been a fan of his ever since reading “Kitchen Confidential”, a hilarious and insightful look behind the scenes of restaurant kitchens. Since reading it, I’ve stopped ordering seafood specials on Mondays and try my best to avoid salad bars. His TV show, A Cook’s Tour, was a fun and graphic journey around the world. Actually meetting the guy over crab bee hoon and beer at Sin Huat Eating House only made me like him and respect what he’s doing even more. In person, as on camera, Tony’s a no-nonsense, sarcastic, funny and laid-back foodie. His latest show, backed and produced by Discovery, is called ANTHONY BOURDAIN: NO RESERVATIONS. Here in Singapore, we’re a month and a half into the first season. Over in the USA, the second season premiered just a few weeks ago.
Discovery describes the show this way:
“In ANTHONY BOURDAIN: NO RESERVATIONS, this anti-celebrity chef is out of the kitchen and on the road — no holds barred and as feisty as ever. His authentic travel experiences — the good, the bad and the ugly — are presented as Bourdain weaves the globe with his authentic, peculiar, raw and unfiltered edge.
“’This is not a food show — it’s about people, cultures and places as seen through the eyes of a chef and the prism of food,’ says Bourdain. ‘Food is maybe the fastest, easiest and best way “in” to an unfamiliar place and culture. Once you’ve sat down with people and eaten their food, their whole world opens up to you in ways that wouldn’t ordinarily happen. Food, after all, is the purest expression of a country, of a culture, a region and a personality.’ Discovery’s series ANTHONY BOURDAIN: NO RESERVATIONS is sure to leave viewers hungry for more.”
As part of the global marketing push to get all of you (us) to turn on your TVs and watch Tony’s show, I was asked if I wanted to conduct a short interview by phone, fax or email with the world traveler. Because I was about to jump on a plane when the offer arrived in my inbox a few weeks ago, I opted for email and shot off a couple of quick questions. His (short) replies just arrived. So, for your reading pleasure, the shortest interview with Anthony Bourdain probably ever published…
CH: Hi Tony. How will this show be different from your last one? Are there any major differences that viewers and fans will want to take note of?
AB: We’re always trying to not repeat ourselves. We’re always looking for locations and subjects that haven’t been explored on television or on other travel shows. And we’re always looking to push things. We’ll be doing a Beirut show in a few weeks. As far as any major differences? I’ll always be me—that’s for sure. Too old and too mean to change that. I’m not going to morph into Rachael Ray all of a sudden—or find religion—or start doing Happy BBQ competition shows.
CH: I read somewhere that you were going to take a year off and live in Hoi-An. Have you gotten around to that yet?
AB: I haven’t got around to living in Hoi An yet. That comes after the TV career is over.
CH: What do you hate most about being interviewed by journalists? What question that you get asked over and over again do you hate the most?
AB: Being interviewed by journalists is easy compared to the honest toil of working in professional kitchens. So I don’t mind. I know how lucky I am that anyone even CARES what I think. As far as the question I’m getting tired of? “What did that cobra heart taste like?”
CH: If you could only smoke one brand of cigarette and drink one brand of beer for the rest of your life, what would they be?
AB: Lark, which is very unpopular and increasingly hard to find. As far as beer? My favorite, the best beer in the world is Guiness—as brewed in Dublin. But its not everyday stuff—it’s a bit too heavy for breakfast. I’d be perfectly happy stuck with a lifetime supply of Heineken.
CH: What 3 albums/CDs are your favorites to cook to?
AB: The Superfly soundtrack by Curtis Mayfield. Doggy Style—Snoop Dogg. Tepid Peppermint by the Brian Jonestown Massacre.
CH: Describe the contents of your suitcase.
AB: The usual clothes, a laptop, cigarettes, chargers, Immodium, appropriate footwear. No latex underwear or bondage gear—if that’s what you’re hoping for.
CH: What’s your favorite super-fast foolproof recipe that can be whipped together quickly and easily but that always impresses people?
AB: A proper omelette. Because it’s amazing how few people can make a damn omelette.