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Bourdain in New Orleans

I just saw a preview for tonight's No Reservations episode in New Orleans. I was shocked to see that Emeril was sitting down with Tony and having a seemingly polite conversation. After all the smack that Tony has dished out in Emeril's direction, the fact that the 2 would be sitting down together should make for interesting TV. If someone had repeatedly called me "Ewok-like", I don't know how cordial I would be towards them. What I am really curious to see is Tony's introduction to the segment where he will probably rehash many of his harsh comments towards Lagasse.

Wait until next season, when Tony visits upstate NY and has a 30 minute meal with Rachel Ray!

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  1. Rachael Ray and Tony Bourdain. How about Rachael Ray and Gordon Ramsay? I like that better! I'm sure a good deal of $$ was involved and of course that takes precedence over all. But perhaps their love of everything Louisiana is greater than petty name-calling. BTW..I would have said "yoda-like".

    3 Replies
    1. re: RichardCrystal

      Exactly! Those people are on television earning a living. There is no bad publicity or bad feelings when milions are being placed in your pocket!

        1. re: wolfe

          I received a picture of him hugging my girlfriend along with a copy of his new book autographed to me for Christmas. I feel like one of the family!

      1. In his books Tony has mentioned his respect for Emeril outside the BAM shtick.

        1 Reply
        1. re: scubadoo97

          Yes, Bourdain actually apoligized for some of his remarks.

        2. LOL Tony's feelings about Rachel aren't any secret. I don't think he's come anywhere near her 30 minute meals ;)

          1. So. I absolutely loved the show. I have never been to New Orleans -- a fact I've been in deep regret about since Katrina, so naturally I would like to hear some of the NOLA expert opinions.

            Regardless of whether he was able to represent the many culinary facets the city still has to offer, he once again has proven to be someone who is not afraid to talk about serious issues.

            And his peace talk with Emeril was sweet. Awwwww.

            3 Replies
            1. re: linguafood

              I moved from New Orleans a few years before Katrina.

              I recently I looked at satellite photos of the area I formerly lived in. You can see the roofs torn off of some of the buildings and abandoned cars strewn about pointing in different directions.

              Makes me sad to think about it.

              I still keep in touch with the former coworkers and they seemed to have faired well.

              I'm not sure I want to go back. I like to, but I'm afraid to see the lack of progress in the rebuild after two years. Very demoralizing.

              1. re: linguafood

                why regret it? go now. i was just there and the food was fantastic. if you don't get out of the tourist version of NO, it seems like katrina never happened, but a quick trip to the ninth ward or gentilly is really alarming.

                1. re: ndl

                  Oh, trust me, I will -- as soon as I get the chance. Still, it is such a tragedy. And what an unnecessary one. After all, this is not a third world country ...

              2. Excellent job. The thing that really makes all the other shows about N.O. so bad is that they all try to sum up N.O. food. NR followed a stream of conciousness that told his story instead of pretending to know the whole story.

                1. Bourdain's comments about Emeril focused on the theatrics and, secondarily, on the restaurant empire and product endorsements. I don't recall any disdain for Emeril's bona fides as a chef. Well, life has an interesting way of working out.

                  One of the themes of Bourdain's show last night was about the odds of restoring the genuine -- not yuppified -- food culture to the city when the waiters, line chefs, bus boys etc. still have no place to live. Without a trace of snarkiness, Bourdain led Emeril through the telling of how his restaurant empire came to the rescue for his employees. Apparently, Emeril traced down his scattered employees in the wake of the hurricane and relocated them throughout the US to work at his other restaurants until the New Orleans restaurants could become functional. Finally, Bourdain truly praised Emeril's food.

                  Still, Bourdain is Bourdain. In the midst of mending fences with Emeril, he managed to get in a major dig at Rachel Ray.

                  1. I had previously said that the show was bound to disappoint if only due to the fact that everyone has their own favourite places that were bound to be overlooked.

                    Well, for myself alone, I was 100% wrong about that. The only thing that might have had me closer to tears by the end would have been if he had visited A.R.N.O.

                    I have heard about Domelise's on this board, but have never been there. Now I MUST go. Antoine's was always completely off my radar on previous visits, but I am much more inclined to give it a try, as I am Emeril's restaurants. If the food at Cochon is only half as good as it looked at that pig roast/crab boil, I'll be camping out there. And I would love to spend a day on the oyster boat with the lawyer.

                    There is more than enough blame to go around as to why the area has not been able to recover much more completely, but I personally am determined to be a bigger part of the solution and less a part of the problem. I'm going back as soon as I can.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Fydeaux

                      I went to Antoine's almost 20 years ago ...my last vacation with my parents right after college. In the first millisecond of the segment on Antoine's, I recognized the place. Although it's not the kind of restaurant I look for now, it's still pretty cool, and will be awfully sad if it goes under, after all these years.

                      That pig was drool-inducing. We think we might have wild hogs in our pasture...I'm starting to plan....

                    2. My son and I watched that show last night and we were moved by it. We've been to New Orleans before and after Katrina (my bro' lives in Slidell, works for Shell). I will say that it takes a big man to apologize, especially publicly, and you don't see enough of it these days, so I applaud Bourdain for that. Emeril has done SO much for his employees and the entire city and I only buy Gulf shrimp now because of his efforts to help the shrimpers of that area to recover. That's something I can do without actually living in New Orleans.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Val

                        I lived in the Quarter and had no car. We were supposed to go to Mexico Monday and got stuck finally leaving Saturday afternoon on a bus to Fort Smith Arkansas. All the things he said about NO after the storm - fear of malaria, people with guns, etc. rang true. He picked a good cross section of New Orleans restaurants and I thought it a very poignant show.

                      2. A lot of replies seem to say that this show was Bourdain's first apology to Emeril. Hardly. In "A Cook's Tour" show in New Orleans, he had different men, women, and children beating him up (staged, of course) at different points in the show for his insulting Emeril. Funny stuff, but clearly a tribute and apology to Emeril and the Emerilites.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                          In his book too he mentions that he was unfair to Emeril. Maybe this was just the first time he actually apologized in front of Emeril? And saying "ok maybe I was unfair" isn't quite the same as referring to Emeril as the pope, which he did on this show.

                        2. First time I've been moved by a NR show. I grew up near NO so the city is sentimental to me and one of the finest meals I've ever had was at Emeril's NOLA. I wasn't aware of the relief effort by Emeril to assist his employees in finding new homes and jobs until they could return. The highlight of the show was Bourdain's jab at RR and the closing plea for tourists to return. I'll be one of them in 2008 for sure!

                          1. As I also mentioned on another food board, it was a great show; I agree that it was focused far less on the food than most of his episodes. When I first brought my girlfriend (will be my wife next month) to New Orleans, she enjoyed her first Po Boy at Domilise's.

                            Chris Rose looked to be on the verge of a breakdown, Tom Fitzmorris was impressive and well spoken but seriously needs someone to tell him how to dress, and we got a glimpse of the real Donald Link. I especially respected Bourdain for sitting down and chatting with Emeril.

                            I was a refugee and have settled in Tampa, Fl, so I really appreciated the care that was given to show the true city and the real food. Overall, I went to bed missing home and the little things, like running over to Cafe Reconcile for a great lunch. Very well done show.


                            7 Replies
                            1. re: UptownKevin

                              Excellent show for all the reasons cited above. And my but the food did look mouthwateringly good.

                              Definitely Bourdain at his best. I've definitely found the shows that are organized around a particular story and point of view to be the best. He's a great essayist and his team did a good job telling the story he wanted to tell.

                              1. re: UptownKevin

                                Chris Rose seems to be *perpetually* on the verge of a nervous breakdown, post-Katrina... a fact which makes him equally endearing AND unreadable at times.

                                "Unreadable", because he's sometimes a little... closer to home than some of us are ... ready to deal with - but there's absolutely zero doubt that his heart is in this city.

                                Along those lines... major props to Bourdain for recognizing that only someone who had lived through the thing was qualified to sum up the epiosode.

                                I also thought there was a very nice balance.. both Antoine's and Cafe Reconcile - two widely divergent institutions; one steeped in history, one with a vision for the future, and a recognition of what each means to the city.

                                Finally... both Bourdain and Emeril deserve credit.. "breaking bread", and a common respect for the industry, and all it entails... from the back-breaking work to the indescribable comaraderie it engenders, despite the rough edges and purported cynicism.. well, it reconfirms my belief that a good meal, and honest dialogue can move mountains...

                                1. re: UptownKevin

                                  I've got the show taped, but haven't watched yet - will be sure to do so tonight. For some reason, your post really touched me - I love New Orleans for many reasons, but haven't been able to join my husband on his business trips there post-Katrina. I hope that all is going well for you in Tampa - I actually first visited New Orleans while living in Miami - a welcome respite from a such a new city.

                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                    This may be old news to the boards, but UptownKevin used to be the bartender at the Columns Hotel, and a damn fine one at that.

                                    1. re: kevinlimbo

                                      Interesting - never made it there. Did watch the show last night and really enjoyed it and, again, was very touched by it. The Antoines segment made me particularly nostalgic, as I used to take myself there for lunch while my husband was at the port with his clients. I loved that place, even though - well, maybe because - it was so old fashioned. The part with Emeril was interesting, especially about his relief efforts for his employees and those of other local restaurants. And that pig! Well, and most impressive - the spirit of those who remained in or returned to New Orleans.

                                      Kudos to AB for a great show - now I just need to get myself back there next time my husband goes.

                                  2. re: UptownKevin

                                    I was actually more impressed that Emeril took the time to sit down with Bourdain. He doesn't have the platform that he once did, but he is still a heavyweight (no pun) in the food world and I liked that the show highlighted his many charitable efforts in NO.

                                    I read a great post today on the episode on the Chez Pim blog. I think she highlighted how this portrayal was in stark contrast to the utter browbeating that Alan Richman bestowed on NO in his GQ article. There are some good links in the blog to some vitriolic responses to the Richman article.


                                    1. re: Bhutani

                                      Thanks for sharing that link - I really enjoyed it - and the photos.

                                  3. the show was the most sensitive , angry and poignant that AB has ever done. We have a number of good friends that live in the city, and have been fequent visitors, athough I am sad and a little embarrassed to say not since Katrina. In truth, it was true AB, just that the subject demanded the expression of admiration, anger and hope. The concern that he expressed about the danger of NO becoming a creole theme park is a real one that any hound or anyone who cares about real american culture needs to be concerned about and do whatever is necessary to prevent it. This is why I've been a fan of his.

                                    1. A common theme among all of Tony's work, in his books and his shows, is the notion of "this thing of ours". It's an unabiding love for people in the restaurant industry. Line cooks, busboys, dishwashers, waiters, chefs, all of them. He cites it often, and toasts to "la cosa nostra" and the New Orleans episode showed that love in its truest form.

                                      Anyone who isn't moved by this episode doesn't have a heart. Get your pulse checked, because you might not be alive.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: SauceSupreme

                                        Amen, SauceSupreme. I watched it twice, back to back with tears in my eyes.

                                      2. We loved the show. My spouse has never been to N.O. and I had proposed it for a mini vacation this year and we have still been rolling it around with other choices. Yesterday's show cemented it for us, we are definitely going. We have to give them some income and keep these places going.

                                        The only thing that kept me from crying while watching it was knowing that it was Fat Tuesday and hope-hope-hoping that every restaurant we saw was packed with people spending gobs of money there. I really hope that was the case.

                                        I cannot believe how devastated it is and such a large area nearly 3 years after the incident. I can certainly understand why people who left don't have the energy or means to return and rebuild, but those who stayed or have tried to return have returned to a city of near-ruins outside of the french quarter, it seems. I just don't know what to do to help.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: rockandroller1

                                          To be completely fair, significant swathes of the city outside the French Quarter are just fine. What can you do? Come and visit, spend your tax refund in our town, and see things for yourself so you can understand the complexity of rebuilding--how we can be both open for business and struggling to rebuild, all at the same time.

                                          1. re: rockandroller1

                                            I really dislike it when people quote themselves. But this is what I posted when I returned from a visit to New Orleans last April:

                                            First let me say that if you have not visited since the ‘event’, start planning a visit now. Everyone. They still need us. If you can plan some volunteer work while you are there, great. But even if you cant do that, stay in their hotels, eat in their restaurants, listen to their music, buy a t-shirt. You will be helping more than you can imagine. And they will be grateful. Even the people who work 12 hours straight in those daiquiri windows on Bourbon St and the Lucky Dog vendors will take an opportunity to say “Thanks you for coming to New Orleans.”

                                            I would also add: Buy CDs from the musicians you hear there.