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Sep 9, 2007 04:32 PM

Bourdain: Love Him? Hate Him?

I started this post after reading through a good deal of the posts in the Mario Battali left the Food Network thread and noticed that the replies took a sharp turn toward Bourdain.

Here are a few thoughts and observations about AB:
I love reading him (he's a good writer and writes about things I find interesting--haven't read the fiction so I guess I'm not a true groupie).
When I ate at Les Halles, it was during the time when he was still executive chef. I forgot to look in the kitchen to see if he was there. The food was great.
Yes, he's the king of snark, arrogance, egocentricity, etc, but he'd be the first to tell you that. I believe it's all part of his public persona.
After watching the last episode of No Reservations, which was filmed in Hong Kong and featured the stick-riding noodle maker, I was in awe of Bourdain's humility as he watched, and in his narrative.
His blogs about Top Chef, however snarky (I swear I never use that word as much as when I'm talking about Bourdain) have consistently offered clarity and humor. He also manages to find someway to relate to each of the chefs in question, as he did with Howie this past week, that makes me think this guy has a bigger heart than he might anyone to think he does.
In terms of tv personalities, I think I'd take Bourdain any time in lieu of Rachael Ray, the southern lady, Giada, or any of the rest of the middle america tv chefs, who are meant to appeal to the masses.
When Bourdain starts to get on my nerves, I stop listening or reading. for a minute. then I always go back.

Anyway, it seems that people either love him or hate him. I'm curious about other CH folks.

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  1. Love Him. Unabashadly, and to a fault. His writing style is smart and funny, with just enough attitude to let you know he KNOWS just what he's talking about. His shows are amusing, especially when he's put in an akwards situation. He's respectful in every way of the culture/country he's in, even if it means eating warthog excrement bits from the unwashed colon.

    Does he come off as smarmy to some? Yes, he can. But, keep in mind, some of us are highly amused by this, and are probably this way ourselves. (maybe not as much..)
    I wish I could have eaten at Les Halles while he was still executive chef, but it wasen't meant to be.

    Oh, and I know for certain that a good number of his female fans find him SEXY. For me, he's not Brad Pitt gorgeous, it's all in the attitude, and that's pretty sexy, when it comes to AB.

    3 Replies
      1. re: Honeychan

        it's the lanky, hyper, mick jagger-ish sex appeal - totally my thing ;-)

        I'm somewhere in the middle. I enjoy watching him and reading his work. I haven't seen the Hong Kong show yet, but his show in Beirut really moved me.
        I think he's a great commentator and plays his role well. I'm not a groupie though.

        1. re: pescatarian

          I agree with the exception of the fact that I am a groupie.

      2. Oh boy, are you going to get some heavy-duty responses to this one! Yeah, I'd say "snarky" is a good adjective. I've read all his books, he's an excellent writer. Check out his little history book on Typhoid Mary! I unashamedly enjoy "No Reservations". Hey, who else would even think about getting Marky Ramone to eat dinner with him? He's bad boy sexy, he does know how to cook (despite other posts to the contrary) and I'd certainly like to hang out with him. But, he does get to be a little predictable in his bashing of vegetarians, how old and out of shape he is. But he can take me out to dinner any time.

        1 Reply
        1. re: houndgirl

          Yes, Houndgirl...Having a meal with AB would be a treat. And thanks for the tip about his Typhoid Mary book...I shall have to check that one out.

        2. I like him. I recently read an article, I can't remember where, that said he will absolutely eat anything they give him on No Reservations, and go for seconds, because you never know when you'll run into someone again and he wouldn't want to offend his hosts, who are giving you the gift of their best food. I thought that was a great attitude to have. Also, he said how disappointed he is with Rachael Ray, who has a ton of power in the industry but wastes it on the safe bets. I couldn't agree more. Another subject all together, but I've never seen Rachael Ray do anything that's made me understand why she's so famous and popular. I was glad HE said it.

          Also, I think it's a pretty amazing feat to write entire books about food and the restaurant industry that are interesting enough to keep the attention of people who aren't foodies and/or in the business.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Azizeh Barjesteh

            On the note of comparing him and Rachel Ray: When I watch Bourdain I feel immediately compelled to jump on the next plane to whereever he is, so much so that it hurts that I can't find the exact items here in Seattle. Meanwhile Rachel Ray once featured a restaurant directly across the street from my house (which I just moved into) that I still can't be bothered to get to.

          2. Like Honeychan, I love him. Unabashedly. Your last sentence about him getting on my nerves doesn't happen with me. I truly appreciate that he will try virtually any food that is put in front of him, out of respect to his hosts. His writing is compelling, and it draws in people like me who've never been in a professional kitchen and makes me feel like I've *been* there.

            Yes, he has a snarky persona he puts out to the public, but reading his writing about he and his daughter shows me he's a real person - a pussycat in real life.

            9 Replies
            1. re: LindaWhit

              I've given some thought to my last comment about AB getting on my nerves. I think I'm over it.

              1. re: pfarrell

                LOL! He can grow on you, that's for sure. But I also know he can irritate beyond all get-out.

              2. re: LindaWhit

                Oh, AB dosen't get on my nerves AT ALL..*LOL* I could watch him 24/7, as I am in love with his voice as well as his personality onscreen. I wrote what I did, as one of my good friends can only watch him for so long, before "he gets on her nerves". So, after hearing her thoughts on AB, i'm well aware he's not everyone's cup of tea.

                BTW Linda, what news have you found about his new daughter?? She was born on me and my husband's anniversary, April 9th. I bet being a father has melllowed him, just a bit, hopefully giving him new insights on life. It will be really nice to watch a "newer" AB, and hope the things his fans love about him are only made better with her in his life.

                1. re: Honeychan

                  Honey - my comment re: "...your last sentence..." was referring back to the OP. I can see you are as much in love with AB as I am. :-)

                  Re: his daughter; just the brief comment I believe he made on Ruhlman's blog, about 3 months after she was born - said comment I guess would have been just a few months ago! You can check to see if it's here:

                2. re: LindaWhit

                  what???? he has a daughter???? this is the first i'm hearing of that! i knew when he wrote Kitchen Confidential he had a wife, and i assumed that he got divorced because he never talks about her anymore. but daughter??? am i mistaken, is he NOT divorced? or is this a new relationship?

                  i got to eat at Les Halles when he was still there (tho maybe not THERE) - it was wonderful. i saw him speak at City Arts & Lectures in SF. he is really bright, quick, and funny. i sometimes find his shows a little "canned" - sometimes focussing too much on personalities when i want it to be all about the food. but he has a true understanding of food and i love his respect for all cultures, as well as his fearlessness when it comes to trying anything.

                  1. re: mariacarmen

                    I'm pretty sure it's a new relationship, maria.

                    1. re: LindaWhit

                      ok, interesting. i was kinda sad when it seemed like he was no longer with his wife, because it seemed he had a lot of respect for her in his first book.

                      but what do i know about a person's private life? maybe he was a pain in the ass to her!

                      1. re: mariacarmen

                        New relationship. I mourned when I heard he had remarried. I was still holding out hope!!!!

                    2. Hate him. Unabashedly. I'm sure he has some very positive qualities. Posters to this thread have referenced some of them. But I can't stand him long enough to ever see those things. I can never make it past his incredibly arrogant and obnoxious, pseudo-intellectual, desperate-to-impress, even more desperate-for-attention, always over the top delivery and writing. His whole demeanor, including his writing style, stirs nothing but loathing in me. I forced, forced my way through Kitchen Confidential, searching eagerly for something to like. After all, so many posters who know alot about food and writing and whom I respect are such fans. Plus, I freakin' LOVED my roast chicken at Les Halles. I WANTED to like him. But no dice. I finished the last page of that book and swore I'd never read another. I cringe when I see he's the guest judge on Top Chef -- in large part because I know it'll inspire a large number of posters here to wax poetic about his wonderful-ness in all the threads about the show. And that's almost worse than sitting through him for an hour. Blech.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: charmedgirl

                        LOL! I guess you're not thrilled that he's on TC3 this coming Wednesday night. :-)

                        1. re: charmedgirl

                          So we can put you down as undecided??