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Aug 23, 2005 11:03 AM

I don't find Bourdain to be arrogant...

  • c

Several people commented last week how they find Tony Bourdain to be arrogant. As I watched him last night, I could only think he is the exact opposite of arrogant. He loves to share everything he knows and does, whether he's enjoying it, choking it down or even making a fool of himself. I know plenty of arrogant chefs, these are the type that are afraid for you to find out any of their "secrets" and consider themselves to be godlike. Unless maybe his "New York" wiseguy attitude? Just curious.
PS I didn't even notice, but my husband the end when he said he really didn't want to leave and go back to NY, the last shot was him WATCHING THE HELICOPTER LEAVE! Then they say next week is a repeat of Paris. I'm pretty sure they were screwing around, as I've heard him say he did 10 or 12 episodes, but wonder what that was all about?

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  1. I agree with you. I don't find him arrogant either. Nor is he a food snob -- he is always willing to try new (and strange, to us) things. I rather enjoy when he eats some of the weird stuff -- so I don't have to.
    He is passionate, interested, and very entertaining. I would love to share a meal with him.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Seattle Rose

      I agree. I am just so afraid that he is going to become such a star that the fame will burn out. He is everywhere lately.

      1. re: Candy

        I don't think we need to worry about Tony. When he was talking at his book-signing gig here, in response to a question he said Yeah, these famous local chefs and those famous local restaurateurs had put on this very fahncy meal for him the night before, and it was great, of course...and then he brightened up and said that he'd met a bunch of the help when he was out on a smoke break, and after he left us they were gonna take him to their favorite joints in Koreatown! You could tell which evening he'd enjoy more.

        1. re: Will Owen

          Where was that at? Because a night after debauchery in Korea towm somewhere he was in Houston not looking to get to wasted so we called it an early night.

      2. re: Seattle Rose

        Ditto. I'd been sort of on-the-fence about the guy. I do appreciate the way he self-depricates and doesn't really take himself too seriously. But last night's ep made me like him more because he seemed genuinely moved by his experiences on this trip. So, okay, I'd like in on that meal with him too as long as it doesn't involve that weird stuff!!;)

      3. I thought last nights episode was the best one of the bunch, after a few fits and starts, I thought he is beginning to hit his stride. The show had just enough of his irreverence and attitude to be great fun. The whole tattoo schtick was just short enough to be entertaining, and the head hunter bit was kind of funnt too, not too drawn out and not too awkward. I thought the secret agent man thing at the end of Vienam was pretty dumb and a waste. As for his sense of adventure when it comes to food... I give. Penis soup and "fermented" pork, oh lord save me!!!

        12 Replies
        1. re: Phaedrus

          I also thought that last night's (Malaysian) trip was the best so far. Tony actually seemed to be having a good time and was passionate about the food and travel. Also they showed a little more details about ingredients, cooking techniques and flavors of the food that he was eating. I was dreading after watching the NJ episode that they were all going to be unisnpired, but the last two have turned me around on this show.

          Too bad they are going back to repeats this early though.

          1. re: rl

            His trip to Malaysia, including Borneo was Bourdain at his best.

            1. re: jsl

              maybe Tony and Ruth should take a trip, or three, together.

              1. re: pepperann

                I also find Reichl's reviews insufferable in that personal journal way. Which may mean she's better at autobiography but I'm not running to the stores.

                I wish the television overlords would take away that "Thirsty Traveler"'s show and give it to Bourdain. Baseball hat boy is such a drip.

                1. re: K. McB.

                  Ha ha ha ha!!!

                  How in the ever-loving hell did THAT guy get a show? I imagine that's the kind of waiter you get when you "dine out" in DisneyWorld.

                  There are some of us out there who do not fit into the cheese ball, Oprah Book Club, Under the Tuscan Sun camp. (We're the one's who love Bourdain despite his little short comings.)

                  So if you're going to do a show about drinking, get somebody that actually looks like they might have some liver damage or a pulse or a clever comment.....ever.

                  Like Tom Wolfe! He could wear a rumpled white suit and wicker fedora, travel to hovels across the globe, roll cigarettes with the locals. Now THAT would be a good show. But he probably already does that, you know, without the cameras.


                  1. re: msavvy

                    >>>There are some of us out there who do not fit into the cheese ball, Oprah Book Club, Under the Tuscan Sun camp. (We're the one's who love Bourdain despite his little short comings.)

                    Hey, take it easy with the generalizations there, honey. Seems like you haven't noticed that Bourdain is HUGELY popular with the middle-aged, married, middle-class couples and especially ladies from the 'burbs, the ones with the nice big cars and kitchens and ranges and freezers who rent Under the Tuscan Sun and go out to restaurants often and take overseas vacations and wear a leather jacket every now and then because it makes them feel like they've "still got it". In fact, I'd guess that this is the majority of his fan base; my own 60-something in-laws from Kansas City fit that description perfectly, and they ADORE Bourdain. He has just the right amount of edge for them, and you'll read rapturous decriptions of his book signings complete with good-natured picture-taking-with-fans and "incredibly decent, so gracious" behavior all over the internets. With his busy TV career and books and public appearances, I imagine Tony B. is not quite as established a brand as, say, Oprah or Martha yet, but you can bet that they share quite a few fans. And why not? He's obviously a nice guy, works hard and deserves to make the money; but please, let's not pretend he isn't mainstream.

                    1. re: Sir Gawain

                      By the way, I'm not criticizing Bourdain's audience, just trying to make the point that they are as mainstream-American as it gets, not a bunch of rebels and misfits.

                      I too hope to have a nice big house, car, range and freezer when I'm 60, in fact hopefully sooner.

                      1. re: Sir Gawain

                        Never occurred to me to take your remarks as dissing anyone. I am in fact 64, have a nice big house, too many cars etc. etc. etc....and I agree, especially (as I have previously noted in this here forum) since I've seen Tony work his bright charm on a roomful of mostly 50 to 70 year old Pasadenans, me and my wife very much included.

                      2. re: Sir Gawain

                        Uh, I was talking about a certain form of entertainment, "honey." Geesh.

                        You infer the end user, not I. Besides, Tom Wolfe ain't exactly spring chicken material, is he? I merely tire of the Top 40, Rachel Ray, Gap Khaki sameness of entertainment. As do all of Tony's food fans, yound AND old I'm guessing. I'm 64 BTW. No, not really. But still...touchy, touchy.

                        And I still think Tom Wolfe would make the most awesome Thirsy Traveler.

                        1. re: Sir Gawain

                          Last night's episode - "Why the French don't suck" - was mainstream? The guy basically attacks the whole stupid "freedom fries" mentality, which, if I'm not mistaken, is the U.S. mainstream circa 2005. Oh, and he also got soused on absinthe (drinking from an old, illegal bottle, no less), dined on wine and roast beef for breakfast, and oohed and ahed over a warehouse full of dead animals still wearing their fur and feathers. If this reflects the values of the new American mainstream, I say, bring it on. Either way, I laughed a lot...good enough, in my book.

                        2. re: msavvy


                          We now have hundreds of channels yet so much flavor is missing from television.

                        3. re: K. McB.

                          if there was ever a show you want to love -- but intensely hate -- it's wonderbread boy's thirsty travelor. great idea, awful host.

                2. I got to interview him for about half an hour. He has a NY tough guy exterior, but seems to be extraordinarily humble and thankful for the kind of life he gets to have.


                  1. Arrogant? No. Ruth Riechel is arrogant. Hello? THREE biographies? That woman is an insufferable, arrogant bore.

                    You can love him or not, but Tony Bourdain is NOT arrogant. His book is called A COOK'S Tour not A CHEF'S Soujourn. He has no delusions of grandeur, he just loves food. He has a certain humility towards the cultures he visits; I don't know how you can miss it.


                    6 Replies
                    1. re: msavvy

                      Oh did Ruth Riechal insist in her arrogant way that you must read her three excellent and enjoyable books??????????????

                      1. re: msavvy

                        It seems to me that this thread is one voice of passionate agreement about Tony Bourdain's lack of arrogance. I, however, do get tired of his insistence that we should be shocked, shocked out of our bourgeois complacency by his revelations of the wild-'n'-crazy ways of chefs and cooks. Yeah, man, they listen to the Rolling Stones! HARDCORE!

                        I won't defend Reichl as an author, haven't read her books, but I'll just point out that the culinary memoir is a well-established genre, with stars like Laurie Colwin or MFK Fisher. The latter even penned a book called "The Gastronomical Me". So, self-involvement may not be such a bad thing so long as good writing is involved.

                        1. re: Sir Gawain

                          Yep. I know many hounds love him but I just can't drink the Kool-Aid when Bourdain's sulky, high school rebel *pose* overshadows his of sense of culinary adventure. It's obvious that he's read Hunter S. Thompson. However, he just doesn't have the same genius or effortless charisma to pull off that sort of thing.

                          Frankly, I like Tommy Tang better.

                          1. re: petradish

                            I saw HST a few times. The vast amounts of alcohol made it seem effortless... but it wasn't pretty. And I love his writing.

                            1. re: petradish

                              How about Mark Bittman as the secure *actually* cool anti-Bourdain? I saw a couple of his shows with chefs, and really enjoyed them.

                              I find Bourdain just too tiresome with the Look At Me! attitude. The 007 schtick on that show was insufferable.

                          2. re: msavvy

                            I think that food and the enjoyment thereof is highly personal. So that if you are going to write about food you need to expose yourself, figuratively, to one and all reading your tomes on food so that the readers understand where you are coming from. I don't mind Reichl at all for her three books. At last count, Calvin Trillin is at four food books, which are a mini-blog of his life. MFK Fisher had a career writing a number of books about her food tasting experience.

                          3. Bourdain's not arrogant, just limited in his abilities as a chef, author and racontour. Jeremiah Tower, on the other hand, is the real deal.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: steve h.

                              I remember reading an expose several years ago about JT involving his very problematic history with Alice Waters and Julia Child. Hype and facileness, not to mention exploitation being mentioned.
                              Unfortunately, can't remember where I read it.

                              1. re: Niki

                                Could that have been in the Chronicle magazine? I read that too. It may have been something about Stars.

                                1. re: Niki

                                  His biography, California Dish???

                                2. re: steve h.

                                  Sorry, but I just cannot buy that about Tower. IMO, of course.