Anthony Bourdain Speaks His Mind at the Landmark Theater
Anthony Bourdain took the Landmark Theater by storm last night. The crowd was caught between laughs and gasps as the legendary TV-chef told stories, and gave advice for living for just over two hours.
Bourdain has a solid cult of personality around him – as he explained to the audience, 20 years ago he was a junkie living on the street. He’d never had health insurance, owned a car, or paid rent on time. And now, he has “the perfect job” all because of one “obnoxious book.” Bourdain comes off as an everyman, a rough and tumble bastard who would be the life of any party he attended, and his talk last night reinforced that idea.
He opened up by ripping into one of the Food Networks other stars, Paula Deen. Some time ago, Bourdain had told a journalist that Deen was the worst chef on the Food Network and other media outlets came out to support her. They attacked him for his own checkered past, his abuse of drugs, and his audacity to call out Deen, who has made a life of selling some of the least healthy foods imaginable.
Bourdain via The Travel Channel
Images of some classic Deen foods were projected onto a screen behind Boudain to illustrate how bad the food really was. First, what Bourdain said was Deen’s ‘signature dish,’ was the Lady’s Brunch Burger. Meat patty, topped with fried eggs, bacon and sandwiched between 2 Krispy Kreme donuts. “How can you make shit like that?” said Bordain. “Look at that beauty.”
Next he showed off another Deen classic, Cheese covered Meat Loaf – which is exactly what it sounds like. “I like meat loaf, who the fuck doesn’t like meat loaf?” said Bordain, “I like cheese, but why do we need to put them together in a giant soupy supernatural concoction?”
Deen’s Deep fried lasagna was next on the chopping block – Bordain explained he had traveled extensively in Italy and never seen anything like it. “They’ve been making lasagna for 600 years, why the fuck would you want to fry it?”
He took one last shot at Deen and called her “Deep Fried Stuffing on a Stick” a weapon of mass destruction.
Bourdain went on to explain how his show was made, and the perils of working for him – the humiliation that can come with the job, and some of the difficulties in being part of a travel tv show. International travel has it’s perks, but reality TV comes with a price – every moment is caught on film, and some of the worst moments make for the best TV. He mentioned one incident in which one of his female producers had a leech attached to her upp thigh. When the show aired for all the world to see, the producer is seen half screaming as Bourdain tries to pull the small bug off her butt cheek, and worst of all, the producer’s underwear was inside out.
But Bourdain wasn’t all piss and vinegar. The tour, called “Guts and Glory” did cover some of the more moving and powerful parts of his job. He spoke at length about his time spent with African Bushmen, a people who have been so victimized by main-stream Africa that they have been pushed into the desert and are barely able to survive. These hunter gatherers, meaning they don’t raise crops, but instead forage for food, took Bourdain hunting for a warthog.
“This warthog was a big deal,” explained Bourdain, saying it was uncommon for these people to have such an extravagant meal, and it took nearly a day to hunt, catch, and worship the beast before they ate it. Finally, when he was presented with some of the wart hog meat, which Bourdain described as “covered in Fur, sand, and crap in every bite,” he knew he had to partake. “I ended up on a 3-week course of antibiotics. And I went in knowing no good would come of this,” Bourdain joked.
But this story, and all of Bourdain’s stories, came back to an idea he hoped to impress on the audience. “You’ve got to take one for the team. The number one rule for us is try to be a good guest.” No matter the meal, how terrifying or grotesque, it meant something to someone, and represented so much of the local culture – something Bourdain said he hopes to explore in his show.
I look forward to the next time Bourdain comes to town – it’s always exciting to get these kind of avant-garde celebrities here in Richmond, and I hope the Landmark theater, and the folks over at Broadway in Richmond does more to provide this edgy voice.
“I love coming back to show my family and friends what I left to pursue.”March 6, 2017
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