Warm Crap In A Bag: Does Anthony Bourdain Really Affect How People Think About Food?

Parts Unknown, CNN

As part of CNN’s “Parts Unknown” show, Anthony Bourdain went to New Mexico to check out Santa Fe’s Five & Dime General Store, which is very well known for its Frito Pie. It didn’t end well.

Holding the bag of Frito chips covered in chili and topped with cheese, Bourdain proceeded to refer to it as “warm crap in a bag.” Granted, he was just trying to give viewers an idea of what Frito Pie feels like when you hold it, and he did say himself that the dish was “delicious.”

Bourdain has gotten a bit of flack since the episode. For one, the episode claimed that the dish was made with Hormel chili, when in fact Five & Dime makes its own. Bourdain apologized. But it raises the question: Do people care what Anthony Bourdain has to say about food?

We have a strange relationship with food, and when we see an odd food combination in the national spotlight, we’re often compelled to try it. Just look at the cronut trend.

Is it more important for Bourdain to like the dish he tries, or just to get the dish onto national television? I would wager that there are just as many people who are tempted to try different dishes simply because Bourdain has put them in the spotlight, regardless if he actually likes them or not. Certainly, he should get his facts right, but at the end of the day, isn’t all publicity good publicity?

Be honest: you want to go and try it for yourself. So book a trip to Santa Fe to eat some Frito Pie. Or just make it yourself.

World Streetfood Congress To Be Held In Singapore, May 31-June 9

street food
Laurel Miller, Gadling

Does the mere thought of street food set your stomach to rumbling? If so, you’ll want to get yourself to Singapore– the world’s unofficial street food (or, technically, hawker centre)– capital. The city is hosting the World Streetfood Congress May 31-June 9. Don’t let the stern-sounding name fool you: this 10-day event is all about hedonism, snackie-style.

In addition to a World Streetfood Jamboree featuring the “best street food masters” from all over the world, there are also demos, a first-of-its-kind awards ceremony, discussions on “street food opportunities,” live music, and more.

For those in the F & B industry, a two-day conference, The World Street Food Dialogues, will be held June 3-4. It will feature noted speakers/street food experts such as Anthony Bourdain, Saveur magazine editor-in-chief James Oseland, Brett Burmeister, managing editor and co-owner of Food Carts Portland, and Singapore’s beloved KF Seetoh, chef, food writer, and founder of the Makansutra food centre and “foodbooks.” Makansutra is also the organizer of the World Streetfood Congress.

For details and tickets, click here. Your path to enlightenment via assam laksa, kue pankong, nasi kapau, mee siam, fish tacos, and chuoi nuong awaits.

Anthony Bourdain Answers Questions About His Checkered Past

BourdainOur favorite chef and cranky traveler Anthony Bourdain jumped on the internets earlier this week to answer questions about his past as a cook, traveler and troublemaker, and as usual, the internets had lots of prying questions.

One of the best things about Mr. Bourdain, though, has always been his brutal honesty, and he held little back in replying to the numerous questions. The travel superstar, who readily admits to heavy drug use in his early years, fielded a variety of questions ranging from inquiries about his tenuous relationship with the Travel Channel to stealing Guy Fieri’s Lamborghini to details of his new show on CNN.

An excerpt from the questions and his responses is pasted below. You can read the full Q&A session over on Reddit.

Q: What do you think of Rick Steves?
A: I wish he’d remember to give me my bong back.

Q: What is the best “meat in tube form” in the world?
A: The Chicago hot dog.

Q: What kind of person were you in your twenties? What were your goals and do you think you would have ever imagined you’d be where you are now?
A: I was a complete asshole. Selfish, larcenous, druggy, loud, stupid, insensitive and someone you would not want to have known. I would have robbed your medicine cabinet had I been invited to your house.

Q: Why did you steal Guy Fieri’s Lamborghini and then frame a teenager?A: Yes.

Q: You openly admit to being an ex-addict. Plently of ex-addicts can’t drink at all, because if they do it tumbles into drugs again. How are you able to still drink and continue to live your lifestyle without slipping?
A: I am a VERY unusual case. You are correct. Most people who kick heroin and cocaine have to give up on everything. Maybe cause my experiences were so awful in the end, I’ve never been tempted to relapse.

Q: What would you say your best/worst experience was on drugs?
A: Combing the shag carpet for paint chips in the hope that they were fallen crack bits. Smoking them anyway.

Q: Considering you and Ted Nugent are from pretty much opposite ends of the spectrum, what was it like to have him on your show? Did y’all joke around off camera. The episodes that he was in on “No Reservations” were probably my favorite. And also, you’re my favorite person ever.
A: I’m proud of the fact that I can be friends with someone with whom I disagree violently about absolutely everything.

Q: What was your favorite episode of No Reservations you did?
A: I’m proudest of Rome. Because everybody said it was the stupidest idea ever–to make food porn in black and white.

Q: You’ve said before that you are kind of overprotective of your daughter. If she decides that she wants to get into the culinary industry and become a chef, what would your reaction be?
A: Horror. Fear. Eventually pride that she’d want to do such a difficult thing.

Q: I’m from San Francisco and live in Amsterdam. You hated Amsterdam didn’t you? (The food here sucks.)
A: Amsterdam may not be the first place I think of as a food destination but I liked it fine! #420

Q: Are you and Andrew Zimmern actually friends? You seem incredibly different.
A: Andrew is actually a great guy. Very smart, very funny, very loyal. We have a lot more in common than you might think.

Q: What prompted the move to CNN? Was it issues with Travel Channel a la the Cadillac product integration debacle, or simply a chance to do something in a different vain than “No Reservations”.
A: CNN is letting me and my crew make smarter TV in places that Travel never would have allowed. Also–the new regime at Travel were a pretty unpleasant, uninspiring bunch. I saw the writing on the wall.

Photo: @OttaviaBourdain

Is Eddie Huang The Next Anthony Bourdain? Watch And Find Out

If the name Eddie Huang isn’t familiar, it may soon be, if the folks at VICE.tv have their way. The Washington, D.C., native is a chef, former lawyer and, according to his website, a former “hustler and street wear designer” born to Taiwanese immigrants – a background that led him to become the force behind Manhattan’s popular Baohaus restaurant.

Huang’s new VICE video series, “Fresh Off the Boat,” premiered online on October 15. According to VICE’s website, the show is “Eddie Huang’s genre-bending venture into subculture through the lens of food.” That’s one way to describe it.

Huang has been positioning himself as a chef-turned-media-personality in the vein of Anthony Bourdain or David Chang for a while now. As in, he’s street smart, opinionated, and doesn’t appear to give a rat’s ass what people think of his renegade ways. Ostensibly, it’s a great fit for VICE, which is known for its edgy exposés and other content.

Here we hit the first divergence among FOTB and the canon of travel series. Regardless of how you feel about them, Bourdain and Chang are still, respectively, articulate, intelligent commentators of what’s been called “food anthropology.” Huang is obviously a savvy businessman, and thus, one must assume, not lacking in brain cells. But he isn’t as likable. Unlike Chang, a mad genius, he’s not so outrageously batshit that he’s funny. He’s not particularly charming, witty, or aesthetically appealing, and he comes off more wannabe-Bourdain and imposter street thug than informative host and armchair travel guide.

In the premiere, Huang takes viewers on a backwoods tour of the Bay Area, starting with a visit to Oakland’s East Bay Rats Motorcycle Club.

We’re briefly introduced to Rats president Trevor Latham, and next thing we know Huang and Latham are armed with rifles and wandering Latham’s Livermore ranch in search of rabbits. Says, Latham, an avid hunter, “People that eat meat and aren’t willing to kill an animal are fucking pussies, and fuck them.”

Of note, the below video is fairly graphic.


rabbitsFor his part, Huang appears suitably humbled, although I have to wonder why a chef of his standing and ethnic and familial background (his father is also a restaurateur) doesn’t appear to have been exposed to animal slaughter before. Still, he gets bonus points for trying to disseminate what should have been the primary message.

Says Huang in the final scene, “Every time I eat meat now, I have to be conscious that…I am choosing to enable someone to kill an animal and create a market demand for slaughter. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Just be conscious of the choices you make.”

Well done. I just wish the rest of the episode carried that levity.

“Fresh Off the Boat airs Mondays; future episodes will include San Francisco, Miami, Los Angeles, and Taiwan.

[Photo credit: Eddie Huang, Youtube ; rabbits, Flickr user Robobobobo]

Anthony Bourdain Bids Farewell To ‘No Reservations’

For lovers of food, snark and real or armchair travel, a sad day is nearly upon us: the final episode of the Travel Channel’s “No Reservations.” On Monday, November 5, “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations – The Final Tour” will air at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

As befitting the finale of a show that had its beginnings in New York, the ever-”quotable Bourdain” will take viewers to Brooklyn, for an in-depth look at the borough’s culinary and other subcultures.

Bye, Tony. It’s been real. We’ll miss you.

Check out the below video for a sneak peak of “Brooklyn,” where Tony and actor Michael K. Williams scarf down some oxtail stew in Crown Heights.