NO RESERVATIONS: Bourdain to push limits on new season

NO RESERVATIONS new seasonAnthony Bourdain charges back with an all new season of NO RESERVATIONS starting this Monday. In this seventh season of the Emmy award-winning Travel Channel program, Tony starts in Haiti to uncover beauty in the dark corners of humanity, a theme promised to be delivered throughout the new season.

Calling it as he sees it, Bourdain puts a new perspective on the situation in Haiti during a visit with actor/humanitarian Sean Penn in the opener February 28. His frank, unique summations, open a never-before-seen window to the enduring devastation that continues a year later.

Regular viewers are promised a different season this year as Bourdain takes personal risks leading to a renewed sense of purpose in his journey. By taking viewers to off the grid locations that challenge him with a better understanding of human existence, Bourdain probes behind the underlying stories.

Gadling readers hooked on our new series, Around the World in 80 Hours (of Travel TV), will totally be in the right mind to glean new perspectives from the intense and evolving focus of both NO RESERVATIONS and it’s host.

In Around the World in 80 Hours (of Travel TV), Gadling’s Rolf Potts hopes to “glean five days worth of travel experiences from the glowing parameters of a single TV set and figure out what the Travel Channel might be saying about how one should see the world.”

On NO RESERVATIONS, Anthony Bourdain is back to give viewers more of his trademark sharp commentary on the world…with a twist. Throughout the season, viewers will watch a transformation of sorts in the progran’s host. In one episode, he’ll travel to Cambodia and identify a parallel between Cambodia’s development and his own maturation, seeking to reconnect with this historically rich country during his second visit.

Viewers can chat live with Anthony Bourdain during the premiere episode Monday February 28, 2011 on the Travel Channel @NoReservations.

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Anthony Bourdain creates animated web series

I’m a huge fan of Anthony Bourdain and I love No Reservations. A show that combines travel to places both exotic and familiar, pure rockstar gluttony and classic Bourdain snark – how could it go wrong? So when I heard that Bourdain was creating an animated web series for the Travel Channel (relax, it will NOT be taking the place of No Reservations) I figured it couldn’t be anything less than awesome.

Based on the sneak peak, the show looks like its going to have plenty of Bourdain’s signature sense of humor. In the first episode, “Robo Chef,” Bourdain laments how much effort it takes to create the perfect celebrity chef – all that work and then they go off and get their own talk show! – so he decides to make one himself. But when he accidentally puts in Rachel Ray’s brain instead of Alton Brown’s, things go awry.

According to Bourdain himself, future episodes won’t be all about his issues with Food Network chefs. They’re designed to be alternative versions of No Reservations – “representing things we never could have done on the actual show – or representing the way things should have gone on the show – or animated acknowledgments of what already went terribly wrong on the show.”

One of the six webisodes will be posted on the Travel Channel website each month. The first will debut November 2nd.

An open letter to the soon-to-be new owners of the Travel Channel

Dear Soon-To-Be New Owners of the Travel Channel,

Most reports are indicating that the Travel Channel’s current owner, Cox Communications, is ready to sell the network for close to $700 million. The companies expected to submit an initial bid (due today) include NBC Universal, Scripps Network, and News Corp.

If anyone from those three corporate behemoths has stumbled across this humble travel blog, allow me to offer you some unsolicited advice for how the Travel Channel could be improved. It’s simple, and it boils down to this: Play travel programming. More precisely, play only travel programming.

As I look over the Travel Channel’s schedule of upcoming shows on its website, I find several whose presence on a travel network can only be explained by some sort of clerical error. Why, for example, is the ridiculous show Ghost Adventures featured anywhere on your schedule? Why does this Thursday evening appear to be devoted entirely to the antics of magician David Blaine? Why is the Robert Redford-Brad Pitt vehicle Spy Game playing this Saturday night? And finally, what the hell does the ubiquitous World Poker Tour have to do with travel? (Answer: “It’s got ‘World’ in the title!”)

To whomever purchases the Travel Channel: If you continue Cox Communications’ infuriating habit of scheduling these non-travel-related shows instead of original travel programming like Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, Dhani Tackles the Globe, and, hell, even Bridget’s Sexiest Beaches, you risk alienating your core audience, people who love to travel.

Focusing on magic, poker, and the occult might attract a few channel surfers, but it isn’t worth losing your biggest fans in the process.

Regards,
Aaron Hotfelder

Sokolowskis University Inn, a Cleveland eatery that wowed Bourdain

Recently, when I was relishing my meatloaf with a side order of pierogis and sauerkraut in between bites of my daughter’s stuffed cabbage rolls and my husband’s coconut cake, I didn’t know that I was having an Anthony Bourdain experience in Cleveland–kind of. I didn’t eat the head cheese or the chicken paprikash, two of the dishes Bourdain also ate when he made his Sokolwski’s University Inn stop with Harvey Pekar and Pekar’s friend, Toby.

The third generation of the Sokolowski family serves up Polish comfort food in a manner that draws crowds of all ages. Part of the restaurant’s appeal is its looks. The walls are a Cleveland memorabilia museum with plenty to keep a person’s eyes busy. Here’s a place to see what has made Clevelanders tick. Browns football, Indians baseball and the auto industry, for example.

I was there to take in the ambiance of a favorite family-owned Cleveland establishment that has been around since 1923 and to eat those pierogies. Bourdain’s purpose was to film a segment for No Reservations. (see segment after the jump). Although our paths didn’t physically cross, his experience was almost identical to mine–except for our dining companions.

What I enjoyed, which this video clip alludes to, is the camaraderie while waiting in line. Because it’s a cafeteria-style restaurant, there’s much chatting between customers while they wait their turn to make their way past the choices.

Even though we arrived on a Saturday at 4:45 pm., what I consider before dinner time crowds gather in full force, the line was substantial. Finding a table wasn’t a problem, however, and waiting wasn’t bad.

If you’re in Cleveland, here’s a place that offers authenticity and city history for everyone, no matter the age or the size of the customer.

The above photo was taken from the front of the restaurant. Along with great Polish fare, eating here offers an unusual angle of Cleveland’s skyline.

Win an autographed Anthony Bourdain poster! (Part II)

Two questions. You like to win free stuff, right? And have you heard of this guy Anthony Bourdain (he’s some sort of food show host apparently)? Alright, if the answer to either of the previous two questions is yes, Gadling has got your back. In what can only be described as deja vu, we’re giving away yet another Anthony Bourdain No Reservations poster, autographed by the man himself.

As you might have also heard, 2009 marked the kickoff of an all-new season of No Reservations. It’s been another solid string of episodes, with interesting installments on Mexico and a great look at some off-the-beaten path spots in Venice. Last week saw Tony enjoying our nation’s capital, Washington D.C., stopping for a half smoke at Ben Chili’s Bowl and getting some great Chesapeake Bay Crab at the local market. Tonight’s episode brings Tony to the isolated islands of the Azores.

Would you like your very own Anthony Bourdain poster to clutch to your chest while you watch the rest of the new season? Just leave an entry telling us about your favorite No Reservations episode in the comments below and we’ll draw a lucky winner by this Friday, January 30th.

Good luck!

  • To enter, simply leave a comment below telling us about your favorite No Reservations episode.
  • The comment must be left before Friday, January 30th, 2009 at 5PM Eastern Time.
  • You may enter only once.
  • One winner will be selected in a random drawing.
  • One Grand Prize Winner will receive a free, original autographed poster of Anthony Bourdain
  • Open to legal residents of the 50 United States, and the District of Columbia who are 18 and older.
  • Poster is valued at $20.
  • Click Here for complete Official Rules.