HOME > Chowhound > Food Media & News >


Is anyone else getting bored with Bourdain?

  • f

I've been a huge fan since Kitchen Confidential was published and followed his exploits on TVFN and the Travel Channel. I've read all of his books except the fictional ones, most recently The Nasty Bits.

Is it me or is his schtick getting old?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. it might be a desensitization thing. you've seen him so much that his show has become formulaic, which is the exact opposite of what he stands for.

    9 Replies
    1. re: eefoodgeek

      Yeah but he covers the same topics over and over and over. He uses the same phrases over and over and over. Blah blah blah. Yadda Yadda Yadda.

      1. re: orezscu

        No, the "same topics" as in the pleasure of eating barefoot, fishing trips, scenes on small boats, sex/drugs/bad behavior in the kitchen, the greatness of Latin American line cooks, the deliciousness of offal, the Fear Factor aspect to foods eaten, anti-vegetarianism, get out of the hotel and eat street foods, how much longer am I gonna have this job cuz it's so great, etc.

        Read The Nasty Bits (in the context of his other body of work), then decide whether this thread is "brainless."

        1. re: filth

          Sex, drugs and bad behavior are certanly not (or no longer) recurring topics in his show. And the Fear Factor aspect is Zimmern's speciality not Bourdain.

          1. re: firstclass1

            IIRC, The Nasty Bits has some allusions to S/D/BB although certainly not in the detail as KC.

            While Zimmern has a whole show devoted to the Fear Factor aspect, I'm a little unclear about why you would not consider eating a raw seal eyeball or a boar's (IIRC) anus "Fear Factor-like". I know that Bourdain, unlike Zimmern, does it out of respect for the people hosting him but that aspect is definitely there.

            1. re: filth

              I agree that some of the foods Bourdain eats may have a "Fear Factor effect" on some people, but I doubt that's Bourdain's primary intention.

              1. re: firstclass1

                As you note, my observation is valid. My position is that the Fear Factor element is a repetitive theme with him. His intent is not germaine to the validity of my observation.

                However, based upon Zimmern getting a show devoted to "exotic" eats (from an American perspective), perhaps he does it on purpose since it seems to sell?

      2. re: eefoodgeek

        Considering how badly his Cleveland and Tuscany shows were received, I think he should stick to his original formula.

        1. re: firstclass1

          I LOVED the Cleveland show. And based on Bourdain's comments when he was here in town, I think he'd like to do more "concept" shows.

          1. re: firstclass1

            I don't know, I loved the Tuscany show. I recorded it and probably have watched it at least 10 times. Maybe because I just love that whole area of Italy and it's familiar to me. But I also thought it was a well done show, and the scenes with Dario Cecchini were, to me, the highlight.

        2. I saw a rerun of his India/Mumbai/Calcutta show this afternoon and thought that he did more schmoozing, cricket, and various and sundry touristy things than actually eating.
          Loved the segment, though, in the Street of Food in .... was it Mumbai? That was a wonder to behold with all the different offal which was grilled including brain. That really was something! I like watching him even though he seems at times to veer off the topic at hand. I'll never travel to those places so all of it is very interesting....to me.

          1. I, for one, have not. I've always enjoyed his style and delivery, and I feel like it's always relatively fresh, due to the fact that he's covering a different location each episode. I've read two of his books, (Kitchen Confidential and The Nasty Bits) and looked at the pictures in his latest, and it's always interesting to me.

            I'd like to see him do something else, though... He stopped smoking, so I'll never be able to see him appear on Iron Chef America, stubbing a victory cigarette butt out on Bobby Flay's pomegranite / blue-corn encrusted forehead. Ah, well...

            My Blog: http://www.epicureforum.com

            2 Replies
            1. re: sirregular

              Really? Bourdain has stopped smoking? Has he made any comments about how food tastes different/better to him? I know a couple of ex-smokers who have said it took a few months, but a heightened sense of taste was a revelation to them.

              1. re: MysticYoYo

                He stopped smoking with the birth of his new child. Not sure if this season was filmed prior to or after smoking cessation.

            2. I haven't gotten tired of him, just like I haven't gotten tired of my friends who are the same old predictable people year after year. The Price is Right was the same year after year, and, so, one might argue, are The Simpsons and Seinfeld. What you call his "schtick" is what is also known as his personality.

              1 Reply
              1. re: orezscu

                One's friends - This is a poor analogy. I'm not paying (albeit indirectly) for entertainment from them so the entertainment value should not be expected to be as high.

                The Price is Right - Look at the demographics of the long time viewers of that program. I don't fall into that demographic.

                The Simpsons - There is general consensus that the show has become old and stale, evidenced by declining ratings. I haven't watched it in at least 10 years.

                Seinfeld - Seinfeld and the writers realized it was getting stale (and Seinfeld got tired of doing the show) so they stopped. I don't recall if ratings were declining. If they weren't, this is your one valid example.

              2. You are not alone. He's been irritating me for a while. I enjoyed a few of his books and early shows, but quit watching his Travel Channel program. I couldn't even finish "The Nasty Bits."

                1. I've (very fortunately) eaten more stuff in more places and have been in those places a lot longer than he has, but never get bored with him. I'm more bored with me than with Bourdain.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                    Don't get me wrong, Bourdain is a billion times more interesting than me. In reading your posts, you are a million times more interesting than me. I don't get paid to entertain people though.

                    After I struggled through The Nasty Bits, I realized that Bourdain is starting to bore me and was wondering if others felt similarly.

                  2. I'm getting bored with these travel cook shows in general. The same countries and cities seem to get visited over and over again. There's this "golly gee whiz, look at what I'm eating, aren't I brave/crazy" mentality to all these shows, which I find offensive to the people who live in those countries and eat those foods on a daily basis. The good thing to come out of this genre is that it introduces people to different types of cultures and foods that they might otherwise be unaware of, but frankly, I'm a proponent of shows that feature chefs actually cooking in the kitchen (yes, imagine that!).

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: gloriousfood

                      But remember that when he left TVFN, that's precisely what he was trying to avoid. They wanted him to travel less and cook more, and he thought that was bullshit. He played on the AB bobble-head doll, t-shirts, all the merchandising - how he wasn't really the type to become a celebrity, cook-everything for everybody chef on TeeVee. (ie, turning into another ewok...)

                      So now, on his Singapore show, he plays again on the rich celebrity chef routine, which he's clearly become... everybody wants that damn live free or die t-shirt...

                      But his new blog over on travel channel is as fresh as ever. Referring to folks that give him a hard time about not cooking any more, he says:

                      "My instinctive reaction to this kind of inverse snobbery is normally a raised middle finger and a "I had twenty-eight years of standing behind a stove - while you were arguing over bundt cake recipes in a chat room, motherfucker! Now, kiss my ass!!"

                      But the fact is, there's a little voice in my head that completely agrees with their point of view."

                      And you're gonna get your wish - he's doing an episode where he will go back to work at Les Halles for a double shift - see if he still has those chops.

                    2. It's what happens when punks go mainstream. They lose their edge. Kitchen Confidential and A Cook's Tour were great because they showcased a new, edgy and defiant style of food writing/viewing.

                      Bourdain came up attacking celebrity chef personalities and now he is one. When your personality is built on opposition, it's hard to transition to the mainstream. Can you imagine what Bourdain would be saying about Top Chef if he weren't on it?

                      I recently rented the first season of No Reservations, and with one exception (the Vietnam show), I thought it was dreadful, and none of his books have been able to recreate the magic of Kitchen Confidential. I thought Nasty Bits was particularly bad.

                      He's definitely overstayed his 15 minutes.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: sku

                        My understanding is that Nasty Bits was basically a compilation of B-sides and previously-published-elsewhere stuff. Not a greatest hits by any means. I didn't expect too much of it, and thought it was a midling effort.

                        1. re: jennywinker

                          One of my favorite chapters in Nasty Bits is when he reviews one of his older writings (in Cook's Tour?) -- a testosterone-fueled glorification of druggy NYC in the 70s... *good times* ---- maybe not so much. I found that whole rave about how great being a junkie in Times Square rather obnoxious and over the top, so for him to look back on that and call it the utter bs that it was is much appreciated.

                      2. A shtick I can still enjoy, but a shtick nonetheless. I am, however, absolutely stoked about his upcoming Berlin show. I hope I won't be too disappointed with his choices: the trailer showed relatively well-known places, so who knows how "underground" this really will be.

                        1. With crap emitted by Food Network... Bourdain is still golden.... but I agree that he seems to be doing more "skits" recently... and I just find them annoying. Still his dry, sometimes self-deprecating, urban cynicism.. is quite refreshing in contrast to the bubbly, sub-urban, superficial, naively uncultured & uninformed approach of Samantha Brown.

                          1. while his schtick may be getting a little tired, he and his crew are getting better at capturing the street-level essence of their destinations. i'm pretty familiar with honk kong, singapore and korea. bourdain and his crew did a good job portraying these complex destinations in a sympathetic and entertaining fashion.

                            1. If you think read the Nasty Bits and think his schtick is getting old than it's you and not Bourdain. The Nasty Bits, as I'm sure you know, is a collection of old articles and essays written well in the past. If he has changed it would not be reflected in these old writings.

                              1. Not for me. I think the obsession with Bourdain evident on this and many other online sources is a bit out of whack with what he does...but I enjoy his show when it's new and I like his books.

                                1. Now that the writers strike is in full swing somehow the show seems more exciting than it should. I know it's tiresome, but the choices are limited. However, I do enjoy watching him travel to places I'll never have a chance to see.

                                  1. Bourdain is a fascinating culinary character...he is smart...he can be articulate, he writes, he can cook...but lately he has taken on a definate social consciusness as he travels...I am not sure if I want his advice on who to vote for President...