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Anthony Bourdain vs Alice Waters

I watched the San Francisco show of No Reservation with Anthony Bourdain and thought what's with Tony's dis on Alice Waters. In the intro of the show Alice Water's restaurant Chez Panisse, is shown, but Bourdain does not eat there. Instead he criticizes the place as some locavore, organic, crunchy food haven that some how represents all that is wrong with the san fran food scene. He later visits a farmers market and tries to go into a "farmers markets are elitist," rants and that the people who shop at this market in an upscale neighborhood all make 80K a year (as if Bourdain does not make more than 80K a year) His rant is foiled by him getting an excellent tamale at the market. What is wrong with farm fresh produces, I think and what is up Tony's but about Alice? In the shows close, Bourdian is having a cheeseburger at a greasy breakfast joint and makes a, Take that Alice Waters remark.

I just did not get it. Alice Water's does not seem to have the standard traits that Tony freaks out about. She is not anti-cheeseburger as far as I know. She is not a vegan, not a raw foodist, not against say drinking, and she creates french inspired cuisine. So why is Bourdain so pissed about Waters? I felt that Bourdain was trying to push his bad boy image at Alice's expense, but his routine fell flat. Bourdain in his own cookbook talks about going to farmers market to find good ingredients, the same farmers markets that people like Waters' helped to create for 30 years. Maybe he is uptight about Water's local food focus, but most of his best meals around the world were fresh local meals.

Besides for the Alice Water's dis, the show seemed to be lacking the magic. There seemed to be too much of him eating and not enough of him checking out the town or doing something funny. Where was the trip to Alcatraz, to the wax museum, to Lombard Street, to a gay bar, to something took him out of his comfort zone. For me, the show jumped the shark along with the food travel show genre. I guess watching people eat on TV has lost its appeal for me.

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  1. I have no idea, but considering my favorite course at Panisse was the selection of cheeses, I don't get the fascination with Panisse. Good, certainly, but forgettable.

    1. Didn't see the show, but, Jeez why toes Tony have to be such a d!ck? Ok, Alice can be a tad precious and faerie like in her earnestness, but i feel she is sincere and walks the walk. I know it's Tony's "shtick" to be an ass, but he even gives us pushy, "ethnic" New York types a bad name! I wouldn't call Chez P's food style "crunchy" at all. Simple, austere, not flashy or foamy. They know how to respect the food and keep it tasting like it should. Not earthshaking, but very lovingly prepared and sourced. A tad full of itself, but nothing compared to Mr. B's container-ship sized ego. I'd pay big bucks to see Alice and Tony get down and dirty in a cage match a la ultimate fighting...Boo-Yahh!!! adam

      2 Replies
      1. re: adamshoe

        Alice has dealt with bigger assholes with bigger egos than Bourdain (Jeremiah Tower, anyone?) She eats jerks like him for lunch (as long as he's local and prepared simply to bring out his maximum deliciousness).

        1. re: adamshoe

          "Jeez why toes Tony have to be such a d!ck?"

          Because that's what pays the bills: "I'm Tony Bourdain, and I'm a complete a-hole." I'm not a particular fan of Alice Waters, who has a bad habit of taking credit for other people's ideas, but Bourdain has zero credibility in my eyes.

        2. I don't fully understand the backlash to locally grown/sustainable/slow food, etc. or why Tony Bourdain in what I'm guessing was sarcasm felt the need to, in his too cool for school way trash it all as flaky or precious.

          Seems there's a lot of that going around:

          I dunno. If the opposite of organic and local is what's "cool" it's time to stock up on Tang and Kraft Mac & Cheese or head to McDonald's.

          1. I have yet to see the episode, but I feel like Toni always has something negative to say about someone or something., I love his show & books, but if something doesn't have the Toni Bourdain stamp of approval he has no bones about letting everyone know.

            1. It must be tiresome to create an outsized persona for entertainment purposes and then have to puff yourself up to fill it week in and week out.

              I like No Reservations better than most food TV series, 95% of which I find too stupid to bear, but this is one of the aspects of it that annoys me: the forced colorfulness, Bourdain's threadbare aging-punk-rocker persona. Taking it to Waters seems especially ironic, considering she's an American pioneer of the kind of fairly straightforward, quality-ingredient-driven cooking that Bourdain seems to worship when it takes place in Hong Kong or Ho Chi Minh City. This is the kind of phony, forced drama that suggests Bourdain and his producers don't trust the show's basic and worthy premises about being an adventurous, non-tourbook-guided food traveler to be entertaining enough every week.

              So they shoehorn in some artificial fun to fill airtime and entertain viewers for whom the worthy bits -- a visit to the local markets, a street-food survey, dining at some great off-the-beaten-path restaurants, and a home-cooked meal with some local family -- aren't idiot-reality-TV fake-dramatic enough. I find myself scanning through most of these non-food-related bits. I'd like the show better as a half hour without all that lowest-common-denominator-pandering baloney, and without Bourdain playing up his snickering, overgrown-Jersey-teen shtick so much. It's mildly funny when he takes on talentless, porcelain-veneered food TV hacks, but Waters clearly doesn't belong in that company.


              1. Here's a thread in which people actually watched the episode, and most liked it. It was started back in March when the episode was shot.


                1. I couldn't agree with you more, but I think it goes beyond that:

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: voltaire_now

                    Nice review. Being sanctimonious about other people being santimonious is never a good theme to embark on.

                  2. When I read is blog about this particular show, it seems like you saw hypocrisy in the locavore movement, which I somewhat agree with, but not completely.


                    2 Replies
                    1. re: annapurna7

                      "Okay ... it does still drive me berserko watching a blissed out St. Alice, burning up a few cords of firewood (in Berkeley no less!) to cook two eggs for an unusually credulous Lesley Stahl."
                      Ah, memories of that earlier Alice Waters thread, where everyone gushed over the elegant simplicity of cooking in the fireplace. :)

                      1. re: paulj

                        Memory is selective. I seem to remember most people being incredulous over Alice Waters implying that having a massive woodburning fireplace in one's kitchen was in any way "normal."

                    2. I like both Tony Bourdain and Alice Waters for different reasons. I do find one commonality -- you have to take both with a grain of salt.

                      Bourdain is an entertaining guy and I could see hanging out with him and I get his rants on super special artisan food...sometimes it gets down right silly. However if it's good, it's good and even he'll admit this but he puts up a freakin' fuss. His problem is his NYC/NJ "prove it" attitude, which is un-Californian. Bourdain doesn't come into the conversation like a proud Texan and BBQ but he has his biases and he's from the uptight, hardcore East Coast (grating at time despite charm) with the "heart of gold". Yeah he's a cool guy but he's uptight too.

                      Alice Waters on the other hand, while she has done a lot for American cuisine, yes she's a bit insane and West Coast goofy, even though she's also from New Jersey. (Bourdain was born in NYC but grew up in NJ. Perhaps that's why Bourdain dislikes Alice...because they're from the same place). I like Chez Panisse quite a bit and I like Berkeley but you have to admit the flake factor (even if only appearance) is there despite the contribution. California cuisine is really the precursor of regional and New American cuisine. She changed food for the better.

                      I think you have to use your baloney sniffer on both. At a certain point you have to say, okay that's too much. Bourdain with his cynical NY'er and Alice with her hippie dippy I'm right thing.

                      1. I do not know M. Bourdain, but have been a fan since reading "Kitchen Confidential" oh so many years ago, and loving almost everything about "No Reservations." Perhaps some of his distain for Ms. Waters is based upon his own experience with good food and poor or working class people. At least on NR, he has been to so many places where really good, local and sustainable food is available to almost everyone, whereas here in the Bay Area, well, have you seen the price of heirloom aka good tomatos lately? And Ms. Waters' resto's are not exactly bargain priced either. Nothing wrong with that, of course, and I know Ms. Waters' proselytizes none stop for making organic, sustainable, real food available to more people. And i certainly agree, and know from experience that real food tastes better, is better for you and can be, yes, cheaper than the processed crap in the supermarkets. Still, sometimes Ms. Waters seems a tad precious and in these economic times, a bit out of touch. And I have eaten at her resto's several times, good but not memorable.

                        1. The jabs that Bourdain takes at Waters stems from his interview with the dcist http://dcist.com/2009/01/chewing_the_...

                          In which he's quoted as saying:
                          "I'll tell you. Alice Waters annoys the living shit out of me. We're all in the middle of a recession, like we're all going to start buying expensive organic food and running to the green market. There's something very Khmer Rouge about Alice Waters that has become unrealistic. I mean I'm not crazy about our obsession with corn or ethanol and all that, but I'm a little uncomfortable with legislating good eating habits."

                          I'm with him. She's a flake and her "movement" to get everyone organic is something that farmers and poor people have been doing for years. She's reinventing something that's been known all around but, packaged it into a haughty, arrogant, high-minded concept; grow your own food, eat what's in season and your health will improve...what a concept.

                          As for farmers markets, the Ferry Building Farmer's Market in SF is a joke. Everyone showing up are white collar types, looking to jump onto the bandwagon of "healthy eatting", supporting local/organic without having to actually deal with the unpolished masses. Its about as polished a farmers market you've ever seen and it allows the shoppers to avoid dealing with the unwashed masses.

                          12 Replies
                          1. re: corsair6

                            And yet Bourdain bought into that when he chose to go to the Ferry Plaza market and show it as somehow representing San Franciscans who choose to buy local produce. He decided to set up easy marks to shoot down, that didn't have much to do with reality. Many of the same vendors who sell at the Ferry Plaza market also sell at the Alemany market, for instance. If he'd gone to Alemany, or even the Civic Center market, Bourdain would probably have liked how "real" it was, but it wouldn't have fit the script he decided on before even showing up in SF.

                            Color me unimpressed at his comparison of Alice Waters with the genocidal Khmer Rouge. His shtick isn't half as clever as he'd like to think.

                            1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                              "Color me unimpressed at his comparison of Alice Waters with the genocidal Khmer Rouge. His shtick isn't half as clever as he'd like to think."

                              I know what you mean. It's like he's trying to channel Hunter Thompson but comes off more like Al Roker.

                              OK, that was cold. Maybe not Al Roker. I do like his show, especially when he's passionate about something.


                              1. re: carbonaraboy

                                The Hunter S. Thompson analogy is perceptive. Hunter's early writings (1960s and early 70s) were incisive and perceptive, yet he became a caricature of himself over time. It was fun, but lacked the soul. I hope Anthony B. doesn't fall into the same trap. I enjoy when he expresses a point of view, and less so a shtick; a marketing tool.

                                1. re: Phood

                                  My perception was that Bourdain was schticky earlier in his career (what could be schtickier than Kitchen Confidential?) and now more bent on speaking out on what''s bugging him. Although I consider him still a young man, he was downright plaintive in last night's NY episode, repeatedly wondering if it was "too late" for him to catch up with what he'd been missing in his own back yard, etc. He's feeling his age, and as you get older you get more outspoken, you show more "rage against the machine", as it were, and in his case the elitist foodie establishment is the machine.

                              2. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                I was thinking the same thing... Khmer Rouge and Alice Waters? Why not Alemany and the Civic Center? That's where Tony should have gone if he really wanted to hang with the peeps.

                                Tony is being melodramatic so he can make some dinero.

                                In regards to the white collar types... "As for farmers markets, the Ferry Building Farmer's Market in SF is a joke. Everyone showing up are white collar types, ..."

                                Hmmm.... Ferry Building next to the Financial District, open every day... Guess what? White collar types will go....

                                The "unpolished" farmer's markets open on weekends. Those white collar folks may be going, but in t-shirts or sweats. Hard to tell, huh?

                                1. re: dave_c

                                  Of all of the farmer's markets in the country or SF for that matter Bourdain picks is a "white collar" neighborhood to give a "farmers markets are elitist" shtik. It did not work. It is like the set up we see on political interview shows.

                                  Lets see him scream elitist that at the Detroit michigan farmers market, a city where certain areas are so devoid of the availability of fresh produce that they are considered "food desserts."


                                  Ypsilanti, michigan, the town over from Ann Arbor where I live was a food dessert until a farmers market opened. No elitism there I can assure you. People are able to purchase fresh, local and affordable produce at the markets with food stamps.

                                  As for the price of food at the market, most of the time the farmers market beats the super market for produce staples. If you tend to get to the market at the end like I end up doing because I sleep in, the farmers practically give away the food. Farmer's are almost always open to give you a deal if you ask, and you are stocking up.

                                  I agree with a poster, that maybe Bourdain should create a new show. The guy, I feel has lost his edge. He stopped smoking, is married with a young child and is on lipator, which he confessed on the SF show as he is eating a pork sandwich the size of his head.

                                  Maybe he can team up and do a show with Alice Waters.

                                  1. re: chefbrian1

                                    My guess is that Bourdain's plan was for a rant on the theme, "Alice Waters's pernicious influence has made this particular farmers market a yuppie hellhole," but he made the mistake of ordering pork tamales from the Primavera stand, which he had to admit were great.

                                    If they'd been the bland, overpriced hippie crap he'd been expecting, he could have contrasted the taco truck in Oakland as the real thing. Instead, he was too full to order the tamales that the location scout had recommended and went with tacos instead.

                                    1. re: chefbrian1

                                      The Tony and Alice show... lol!

                                      If you're old enough to remember, I can see the TV show set up like the old SNL news bit with Dan Ackroyd and Jane Curtain, "Point-Counterpoint."

                                      Alice with her point, "Tony, it's knuckle-dragging neanderthals like you that...."

                                      Tony with the counterpoint, "Alice, you ingnorant..."

                                  2. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                    Considering the popularity of NR and the stardom that Bourdain has attained, I highly doubt he's mapping out where his shows go. From seasonal conception, I'm sure he's plotting out where he'd like to go and throw out a few places he'd like to hit, but, after that, his planners will fill-in the blanks. His narratives sound like he's running out of snarky, East Coast barbs, they've become tired. He'd probably be best served hanging up NR and starting something new. The whole format about SF reflected an East Coast view of an hyper-strange, flaky city, whose entire culture is permeated by its recent liberal history.

                                    Ferry Building Farmers Mrkt, blahh, Alamany would've been a better choice.
                                    R&G Lounge, really...for crab? Not Thanh Long/Crustacean or PPQ?
                                    Tartine?, Bi-Rite Creamery?, SPQR?, Delfina?, Molinari's Deli?, Citrus Club?, Cha-Cha-Cha's? oh hell, House of Nanking? have all of these been covered by other hosts?
                                    Oakland for taco-trucks? was that a "get something about Oakland" plug?

                                    In general, 2009 season of NR is not very impressive, average at best.

                                  3. re: corsair6

                                    Alice has been doing it for almost 40 years. A lot of small producers got a boost from being supported by Alice Waters and the chefs she taught/inspired.

                                    While I don't shop there, Ferry Plaza plays an important role. The start-up process for a specialty producer -- especially if they want to be certified organic -- is expensive. The well-heeled customers at Ferry Plaza create a place where producers can market new products at premium prices and develop a market base and introduce. Lots of specialty produce that's being sold at places like Alemany and Civic Center is being grown because the farmers saw there was a market for it and they could charge more for arugula than they could for spinach. A couple of years ago we started seeing cling peaches, which are usually sold direct to canneries, at farmers markets, because farmers looked at the price people were paying for peaches at farmers markets and realized they could make more money selling direct to consumers than they can to a cannery. It's a win-win.

                                    1. re: corsair6

                                      We're all in the middle of a recession, ... yet Tony Bourdain is running around the world with a camera crew eating five times a day. Go home to your glass house, Tony!

                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                        That's his job. He isn't traveling and eating just for pleasure. It is his current career.

                                    2. may have something to do with "promotional consideration".

                                      1. As one who actually works in the locavore movement, in my experience Bourdain is more popular than Waters, at least among those working on the grassroots in farms, non-profits, community kitchens, etc. because none of us can afford posh "locavore" restaurants like hers. A farmer friend of mine jokes that we both end up growing and promoting food we can't taste ourselves because of our meager salaries. When we are in the city we hit up street carts and eat offal in strange dives in Chinatown like Bourdain. We don't sit around in the kitchen cooking polenta for hours. We have other jobs and even though they are food-related, we don't have a lot of time to cook. I sometimes feel like keeping a kitchen stocked full of locally-grown food and cooking it is like having a second full-time job.

                                        Since I am not posting under my real name, I'll say that most of what Alice Waters says infuriates me too. I know she means well, but she isn't realistic about the average American and most of what she says ends up sounding like classicism, which is something the locavore movement is struggling to combat. Mostly what she says just sounds annoying..

                                        Things are changing now as the grassroots of the locavore movement continues to expand and include more people who don't exactly rake in the dough like my farmer friend and I. In my own few years working, I've seen a switch from wine to beer and infrastructural service projects for food carts. Food carts in particular are doing better than ever thanks to foodie support, which has led to increased legal protections and support for people (often poor immigrants) who want to earn money by opening them. In the future expect to see tripe soup from a sketchy cart sourced from a local farm!

                                        In the meantime, just here to say I love Tony Bourdain and what he has done to encourage the acceptance of street food and offal, which are incidentally as important to the food justice movement as locavorism is.

                                        14 Replies
                                        1. re: polycultural

                                          When you say "mostly what she says just sounds annoying," are you talking about things she's written and prepared speeches, or about her tendency to come off like a ditz when being interviewed on TV?

                                          The average American isn't realistic about the long-term results of unsustainable agriculture and the industrialization of the food supply, and Bourdain doesn't seem to care about those issues, either, so long as he can eat well.

                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                            I would like to see a food guru realistic about the long-term results of unsustainable agriculture and the industrialization of the food supply AND about home economics.

                                            That's not Alice Waters. Her approach might win the heart of foodies, but it's not going to make big changes.
                                            *Get out of that mind-set and tell yourself cooking is a meditation. I like to do it. It's relaxing for me to come home -- it truly is! -- and wash the salad. I love to see the salad in the sink. To spin the salad. I like to dry it. I like to pound to make a vinaigrette with my mortar and pestle. I enjoy grinding coffee and putting it in the filter and warming up the milk. It's part of a ritual that gives my life meaning and beauty.*

                                            This philosophy is nice, but it's unrealistic to assume that all Americans should spend hours a day cooking and if they don't want to it's because they are uneducated.I think Bourdain could be won over to the cause of sustainable food if he dialogued with someone more pragmatic and from a less pampered background like the immigrant family we work with that raises chickens in their backyard and makes them into delicious homemade chicken tamales that they sell out of a cooler for a dollar. Or the busy moms working to make ends meet who receive prepared healthy foods made with local ingredients at a community kitchen. In that same interview she basically says that people are choosing to buy frivolous things instead of eating healthy. She completely fails to grasp how stressful life is for low-income people. Cooking up polenta in a roach-infested kitchen in the projects after working all day scrubbing floors? It's something to work towards, but I think her artisan home-cooked approach is only realistic for a certain group of people.

                                            1. re: polycultural

                                              I guess this would be the wrong time to point out that polenta is pretty cheap and takes 5-10 minutes to make.

                                              But seriously, AB lost some of his luster (in my eyes) with the screaming meat comment. Just because you eat meat (and I do) doesn't mean you can't respect the critter who died for your meal. I realize I'm probably a minority of one -- so g'head, pile on.

                                              1. re: harrie

                                                Hasn't AB always been anti-vegetarian? I haven't seen much to suggest that he's ever been very respectful of people who choose not to eat meat. I don't mind AB, but this is something I've always disliked about his schtick.

                                                1. re: queencru

                                                  Actually, it's one of the things I like best about him.

                                                  1. re: queencru

                                                    "I think it's rude." It's a common attitude among chefs. Here's a five-minute elaboration:


                                                    It's similar to the Catholic concept of "gluttony of delicacy."

                                                  2. re: harrie

                                                    Haha, yeah, I actually eat the quick cooking kind for breakfast often. It's not terribly good though. I'm sure Waters views the quick cooking kind as "cheating."

                                                    Either way, I don't see it becoming the breakfast de jour in the housing projects anytime soon.

                                                  3. re: polycultural

                                                    I don't think AB cares about or could be won over to sustainable food. He is not and I feel will never be a locavore champion, which makes he wonder why he seems to be such to be a hero to your locavore buddies. His message is, I don't care where the food comes from, only that it is tasty.

                                                    That is fine for him. He is welcomed to his views. I don't think he ever said he feels any different, but he is no poster boy for social justice food activism.

                                                    AB does seem to go organic for milk for his child. On a panel with Water's, AB goes on to bitch about the high cost of the organic milk he feds his child as unfair to people who can't afford it. AB's argument with Water's is for her audacity of wanting and working toward the social justice for everyone child to have the same organic milk AB provides for his child.

                                                    Can AB bitch about Water's desire for organic food for kids on one hand, but buy organic milk for his child because he can on the other?

                                                    I think people like AB because he has a punk rock, "take that" message, which supposedly makes him a man of the people. In order for him to have that message, he needs a straw man to set up as the "other." He does that with vegans and people laugh and cheer, and now with Alice Waters, but his Waters attack, I still say, does not work.

                                                    It is hard to be a punk rock man of the people when you eat from a taco stand one minute and then go to a fancy upscale, pampered meal the next. These pampered, "free because am on TV," meals, are the same expensive meals that you mentioned that you and your AB cheering friends cannot afford.

                                                    So why is Water's "annoying" because she wants good, local, organic food for everyone, and AB is not when he is paid millions to eat expensive meals in front us on TV?


                                                    1. re: chefbrian1

                                                      I don't think her approach will lead to good, local, organic food for everyone. I Schools can barely do adequately nutritious food in general....I'd be happy to see that even if it wasn't organic or local.

                                                      Seems like Bourdain is buying organic milk for his kid because it sounds healthy or something. I think that's why lots of people eat organic, but having studied in extensively when I got my masters in ag economics, I wish people would did a little deeper. USDA organic is a huge mess and when I see schools bragging that they serve Horizon Organic Strawberry milk (which is chock full of added sugar and from what are basically organic factory farms) I die a little inside and try not to imagine all the healthier dishes they could be making with simply just vegetables from anywhere.

                                                      "These pampered, "free because am on TV," meals, are the same expensive meals that you mentioned that you and your AB cheering friends cannot afford."

                                                      Actually, I get these too. That's one of the perks of working in food. I get to make poverty level wages and eat Jean Georges, but regardless, I love that AB shows that good food can be had at any price.

                                                      1. re: polycultural

                                                        maybe the parents' priority re: their kids drinking horizon "organic" strawberry milk is not the added sugar (or the welfare of the animals who produce the milk), but the artificial hormones(& high IGF1 levels) which are USDA organic-prohibited?

                                                        given juvenile obesity/diabetes, increasing early onset of puberty in young girls, increases in reproductive cancers (esp colon and breast cancers) linked to rBGH. . . it's just a guess on my part that this is the real reason bourdain feeds his kid organic milk too-- not just because organic "sounds healthy or something." one of the reasons so many pediatricians recommend organic products to parents is that you have to take into account that kids' bodies and brains are developing-- so you might want to avoid some or all endocrine disruptors, nicotinoids, organophospates, synthetic hormones, etc, at least until the development is over.

                                                        1. re: polycultural

                                                          I am not sure AB's show offers a message that good food can be had at any price. After all, he is eating in restaurant most of the time which costs more then making it yourself. I think his nemesis, Rachel Ray does a better job then him on the everyday cheap food message.

                                                          The cost of one of his upscale meals, $50-$100 or more the way he drinks is more then my home meal food budget for the week. And that is buying local organic at the farmer's market.

                                                          The guy is there to entertain, which is the point of the show. Part of that is to show food porn meals, talk smack about vegan, make apocalypse references, eating pork sandwiched the six of my cat and to drink a lot on camera.

                                                          But is there an underlining message of good for can be had at any price? The guys goes to food carts sometimes, and food carts are cheap.

                                                          OK. I will give you that he is a food cart/street food advocate.


                                                  4. re: polycultural

                                                    A locavore movement worker who does not cook?

                                                    Maybe you could pick up Alice Water's, The Art of Simple Food, and bust out some recipes, and invite some of your farm buddies for a locavore offal potluck.
                                                    We don't sit around in the kitchen cooking polenta for hours. We have other jobs and even though they are food-related, we don't have a lot of time to cook. I sometimes feel like keeping a kitchen stocked full of locally-grown food and cooking it is like having a second full-time job.

                                                    1. re: chefbrian1

                                                      I cook, as I said it can be like a second full time job. I've gotten better at it thanks to a slow cooker I wisely invested in thanks to the advice on another cookbook author. There are lots of other people out there doing more realistic approaches to eating better.

                                                      I throw my grassfed short ribs in the crock pot with spices from a tiny Korean shop and come home to a wonderful meal at night.

                                                      1. re: chefbrian1

                                                        " I sometimes feel like keeping a kitchen stocked full of locally-grown food and cooking it is like having a second full-time job."

                                                        So true, so true. Especially difficult now that I have transitioned to a one-person household. Cruising the Farmer's Markets has become a gruelling excercise in restraint.

                                                    2. I finally watched the AB San Francisco episode yesterday after finding the channel (so I could watch the New York Outer Boroughs episode). I have never been a Bourdain fan, but the show may have converted me, the way he stuck it to The Untouchable Alice Waters and foodie correctness in one fell swoop in the Red's Java House closer. His cheeseburger at Red's was not only the "antidote to Alice Waters" but also tasted "like it died screaming."

                                                      Bourdain's show last night on New York's Outer Boroughs (which included a from-the-hip shot at Berkeley vegans) confirmed that he has his Jihad against foodie elitism and hypocrisy in high gear, and I'm ready to egg him on.

                                                      33 Replies
                                                      1. re: Xiao Yang

                                                        Bourdain's the hypocrite. After inveighing against hipsters and yuppies so on, he goes to a hipster- and yuppie-infested, Alice Waters-inspired butcher shop and upscale "diner" (pretentiously called Diner) in Williamsburg, the trendiest neighborhood in NYC, and has to drop his cheap cynic act because the food's so delicious.

                                                        Alice Waters started by pursuing delicious food, and by following that to its logical conclusion eventually ended up working to promote organic, sustainable farming, improve school lunches, and reform the food system in general. Bourdain's now heading in the same direction.

                                                        The cheeseburger at Red's is cheap, greasy crap like you could get anywhere. It's not the antidote to anything except maybe a hangover.

                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                          I bet Alice would take Tony down in a New York minute if it came to blows between them. Tony seems a bit of a blowhard, the kind of tough-talking kid who instantly retreats to mama's loving arms at the first indication of provocation. Alice -- all wirey and sinewey from her fresh vegetables and open-fire-pit kitchen -- would whup the boy, but good.

                                                          I'd pay Travel Network to see this....anything but Andrew Zimmern. Please.


                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                            Diner really isn't an upscale diner at all. It's located inside an old diner and I think that's how it got it's name. It serves unpretentious New American food and was in the neighborhood before the real explosion of hipsterdom. I won't argue with your other points but I just wanted to point out these facts.

                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                              sorry, organic and sustainable do not naturally flow from delicious. that takes a very Berkeley mindset that everything that is personal must also be political. delicious isn't good enough, it must also in some way be saving the planet. or at least be argued to be saving the planet.

                                                              1. re: FED

                                                                I don't care about organic food on principle, but my search for the best-tasting ingredients has resulted in my buying mostly organic ingredients from small producers. On the rare occasions I buy conventional supermarket produce I'm shocked at how flavorless it is.

                                                                By definition, the alternative to sustainable farming is, eventually, dead soil and no food. Farmers and ranchers who care about the quality of their products invariably also care about taking care of their land for future generations.

                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                  no doubt, but you're making a big mistake if you believe that only organic farmers care about their soil. and that's partly what my remark was based on ... AW and some others attach the word "organic" as if it was a quality descriptor, not a technical descriptor. There are many, many good farmers who care about their soil and follow many if not most organic practices without being organic. it's the all-or-nothing game that is the problem.

                                                                  1. re: FED

                                                                    Organic is not always a magic bullet, I agree. When I worked on an organic practice, but not certified farm, the farmer put it this way. "I sell direct, which means people can ask me what I put in my soil, and how I grow their food. There is a personal relationship."

                                                                    But when we buy in the super market, we do not know what they put on the food, the soil, etc...so we need standards like organic and labels to give an idea, but my experiences from picking and cooking fresh from the ground food, is freshness is king period. Garden fresh and home cooked is always the way to go.


                                                              2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                I suspect Diner was mandated by his producers, and also that he's bound by a "If you can't say something nice......." dictum on the show. (It was obviously very painful for him to utter his faint praise of the Ferry Building Farmers' Market.)

                                                                I haven't eaten at Diner but had lunch at Marlowe & Son on my last trip. My panini was worth its price and the people were so...nice.

                                                                For the record, as Peter Meehan pointed out (taking AB's bait) the trendiest neighborhood in NY is Park Slope, not Williamsburg (which has great places like Moto and Spuyten Duyvil).

                                                                1. re: Xiao Yang

                                                                  Park Slope's trendy period was maybe 20 years ago, when it was the place hipsters moved to when they were priced out of the East Village by yuppies and Eurotrash.

                                                                  I don't get the sense that Bourdain's bound by any dictum except to taste things with an open mind and express his honest opinion.

                                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                    Park Slope is now known as stroller central. To say it's Brooklyn's trendiest neighborhood is like saying Noe Valley is SF's.

                                                                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                      Except Noe Valley was never hip. It went straight from low-rent / working-class to yuppie lawyers and bankers in the 80s.

                                                                    2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                      Tell it to Peter Meehan, not me. I haven't lived in New York in nearly 50 years.

                                                                      1. re: Xiao Yang

                                                                        You quoted him. When did he say that? Google doesn't find anything.

                                                                        1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                          He said that in the Diner segment on the New York Outer Boroughs show when Bourdain pressed him to name the most something-or-other neighborhood. (I'm not sure if "trendy" was the exact word, but it was something of that nature.)

                                                                          1. re: Xiao Yang

                                                                            Bourdain: Is there a fogey section of Brooklyn?

                                                                            Meehan: Yeah, Park Slope.

                                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                              Is that from an official transcript? "Fogey" doesn't sound right in that context. Vogue-y would make more sense. If 30-somethings are "fogeys," what does that make Bourdain?

                                                                              1. re: Xiao Yang

                                                                                I just took that down from the Tivo. Bourdain says he's getting increasingly depressed that he doesn't know shit about the boroughs. Meehan says he goes to out to concerts so he wants to know places to eat nearby. Bourdain says, "It's just too late for me," then they're talking at once but it seems like his point was that he doesn't go out any more.

                                                                                Then there's a cut to the server showing up with oysters, and:

                                                                                Bourdain: Is there a fogey section of Brooklyn?

                                                                                Meehan: Yeah, Park Slope.

                                                                                Bourdain: That'd be like double-wide baby strollers?

                                                                                Meehan: Mmm-hmm.

                                                                                Bourdain: I used to sneer at that, but you know, that's me now.

                                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                  I guess I'm a fogey. I don't even know what a Tivo looks like. But if Bourdain is pushing a baby stroller, he must have gotten a late start. According to Wikipedia he's 53.

                                                                                  1. re: Xiao Yang

                                                                                    Check further down in that Wikipedia page and you will see that he and his second wife had a daughter, Ariane, in April of 2007. Bourdain was just shy of 51.

                                                                  2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                    At Diner, I noticed they were drinking Presidente Beer, which comes from the Dominican Republic. What is local about that?

                                                                    1. re: Philly Ray

                                                                      I don't see any beer on the menu at Diner. There's a large Dominican population in Brooklyn, maybe Bourdain bought it at a market down the street.

                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                        Beer is served at Diner. On the website if you click "Champangnes/Magnums" you can view the list of beers.

                                                                        1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                          Ah, right you are.

                                                                          No local beer. That's pretty lame in Brooklyn, they make some great beer there.

                                                                          1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                            It's true, Brooklyn Brewery and Six Points are both making some really nice beers. Maybe Diner's distributor doesn't carry either?

                                                                            1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                              Diner serves brews on draft from at least two Brooklyn brewers- Sixpoint and Kelso, as well as beers from Captain Lawrence Brewery in Westchester County.

                                                                              1. re: Silverjay

                                                                                OK, in that case Bourdain's just a loser when it comes to his drinking habits. So what else is new? When he went to Incanto, which has one of the best Italian wine lists in the country, he drank that Japanese ass beer Hitachino.

                                                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                  My point was more directed at Diner offering beers that are either shipped or flown in from around the world when espousing a local philosophy. If they are trying to be "green", doesn't that defeat the purpose?

                                                                                  1. re: Philly Ray

                                                                                    "Green" or not, exceptional beers are worth shipping around the world, but it's lame to drink Presidente out of the bottle when there's fresh local beer on tap.

                                                                              2. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                I've not been very impressed with Brooklyn Brewery's products, though I have had one nice draft beer from Six Points. Anyway, I don't know if local pertains to beer, since none of them would be using local ingredients anyway.

                                                                      2. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                        I enjoy them both, and No Reservations is my fav show. But I have to agree, he is indeed a hypocrite. For one of the clearest examples, just watch the Sardinia show where most of the stuff he's extolling isn't at all out of keeping with Chez Panisse. I agree with those who think it's primarily for show... at least these days.

                                                                        1. re: Joan Kureczka

                                                                          I don't think his beef is with Chez Panisse's food. I think it's with Alice's newfound status as "St. Alice, Patron Saint of Making Your Children Like Kale." Her precious purity and velvet exterior combined with a hard, unyielding "no compromises" interior that doesn't understand how People Really Eat. And that also, from my point of view, totally ignores her past as the operator of a restaurant with an alarmingly drug and sex oriented past.

                                                                          I have one of Alice's books (Chez Panisse Vegetables), and although I cook from it, I find her entire attitude terribly condescending to somebody like me who (a) lives in the midwest in (b) a two-career family with (c) interests that include but are not limited to food and (d) for want of a better way to put it, A LIFE.

                                                                          1. re: jmckee

                                                                            Jmckee, greeting from the Mid West, (Ann Arbor). I think this is the best reply to the original post yet. Water's food, cooking, and restaurant is not the issue. Her cooking is very much inline with AB's and that is French inspired. That is way I was so confused with AB's dis.

                                                                            In fact I think there maybe a sibling revelry between AB and Water because they are both New Jersey cooks who made good, but AB might be jealous of Waters success. After all AB inherited Las Halles and its theme and menu. He says as much in his cookbook. AB may judge Top Chef, but is no Top Chef. He walked into an already successful restaurant and was smart enough to not screw it up.

                                                                            In Kitchen Confidential, he basically got fired, or the place went out of business on his watch at most restaurants he worked. Maybe because he was more into drugs than cooking. Although AB now has a dream job, he does show envy with many top chefs he meets because he knows he never came close to their level. I think Water is among them.

                                                                            The St Alice comment makes sense, and I can see how people including AB would take issue with her.

                                                                            I think part of why she may seems out of touch is her location of california. When I lived in Portland Oregon, I became accustomed to long, year round growing seasons, more variety at the farmers market, and in general a richer foodie culture of regional wine, cheese, mushrooms, and ethnically diverse cuisine.

                                                                            Back in the Midwest, that culture is here, but harder to find. In a few weeks, I will be saying good bye to my garden and the variety of at the farmers market. It is easier to go local, and fresh in Northern California. If you are looking outside and thinking about food and see your garden still growing in January, I can see how expectation can be off.

                                                                            With that said, I think anyone who is a foodie (chowhound), who cooks home made meals with fresh, whole food ingredients can become "out of touch" because that is far from the norm.


                                                                            1. re: chefbrian1

                                                                              Agreed. I am considered more than a little odd because I put a premium on having dinner with my wife and son as often as possible. It's one reason we are glad Ian didn't do sports, which seems to take over their lives.

                                                                    2. With 53 people commenting on this show... thousands of us watching his shows on any given Sunday night (or is it Monday... whatever) his publicists and staff are eating this blog up, and planning their next season with our commentary. I think he's hysterical and educational,..but all the way to the bank.

                                                                      I've only spent 2 days in SF, but I had no idea that one should go to Oakland for mexcican food.... So,I've learend something new, and if I ever get back to SF, I'll know where to go. Fisherman's Wharf is splendid for an East Coast tourist, but I can say that Anthony Bourdain is teaching me about some off the beaten path places, that if I am ever lucky enough to travel again ... I will try.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: cheesehead in recovery

                                                                        If you post on Chowhound's SF Bay Area board asking "where's the best Mexican food in SF?" you're almost certain to get directed to Oakland. It's like asking "where's the best Taiwanese food in Manhattan?"

                                                                        1. re: cheesehead in recovery

                                                                          Cheesehead is right. It's show business, folks. Bourdain is a funny, snarky, outspoken, knowledgeable, and sometimes very opinionated character. And I suspect that just as the character Howard Stern plays on his own show is not really Stern's everyday persona in real life, Tony is playing a slightly exaggerated caricature of himself for the camera. Even if he isn't, his shows are always compelling and interesting and very much "outside the box". I think he's great and his is one of the few food shows I even watch anymore. The "rebel" persona suits him well, and he plays it to the hilt.

                                                                        2. Interesting comment by AB last Friday about Alice Waters -- that while he "applauded 'her message' and Chez Panisse’s game-changing cuisine, Bourdain likened her to a hippie who doesn't grasp that the poor can’t afford organic milk."

                                                                          Which indicated it was Waters' lack of realism and practicality that grated on him. Among other things.


                                                                          More from that chat Friday night (with David Chang) on this thread here:

                                                                          6 Replies
                                                                          1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                            Alice Waters has done a lot of work with groups that are working to give poor people better choices, so she understands that stuff a lot better than Bourdain does. Unfortunately she's not great at unscripted public speaking, and he's right that she's a bad spokesperson:

                                                                            "I'm constantly having [my own internal] argument with Alice [Waters]," said Bourdain. "I agree with the message, I just don't think she's the person to deliver that message ... [like] when I see her cooking Leslie Stahl one egg over a roaring fire," he laughed. Chang countered: "She means very well. She's a sweetheart."


                                                                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                              Thanks for the link.

                                                                              Alice may be her own worst enemy in getting her message across.

                                                                              School lunches are a huge issue of course, but Alice often seems out of touch with making changes in "the trenches" of school lunchrooms and on family tables across America. Especially in regards to the cost of organic ingredients.

                                                                              And while Alice is sweet and expresses a Romantic lyricism about food, she is also an extremely fierce warrior who brooks no disagreement with her philosophy, even when her philosophy lacks application in the real world.

                                                                              1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                I think that's spot on, Maria. Alice has this teacup-delicate persona with an underlying steely inflexibility. Her message IS good; but the problem is that the parameters of her vision are exceedingly narrow. It's not realistic and cannot speak to anybody who doesn't live someplace similar to where she lives. I live in Ohio, and I scramble like a maniac to provision as much food as I can that would fit Alice's vision of fresh, local, preferably organic. And I fail miserably, because I've also got a job and a teenager and a spouse and another life outside of food. Plus, there just aren't that many places here that I can rely on.

                                                                                1. re: maria lorraine

                                                                                  Accusing Alice Waters of being unrealistic because it's impossible to eat like a human being when you're overworked and overscheduled is missing the point.

                                                                                  The Slow Food movement isn't just about food, it's also about giving people enough free time to live like human beings, eliminating subsidies that make industrial food and foodish substances seem falsely cheap, finding new distribution methods that reduce the overhead, etc.

                                                                                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                    Don't understand -- I'm not accusing AW of what you say.

                                                                                    1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                      Compared to the rest of my neighborhood, I am not overworked and overscheduled. I do make time for cooking and generally everybody eats together in my house. Alice Waters doesn't live in Southwest Ohio, so she would not have to spend hours (and lots of gasoline) getting from one place to another to provision her oh-so-perfect pantry.

                                                                              2. I get that this is an old, old thread, but I just finished, "Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook", a book by Anthony Bourdain and he talks about Alice Waters (and just about everyone else too) in it.

                                                                                I'd say he has a lot of respect for Alice W., but she drives him crazy the same way your great aunt does at Thanksgiving dinner.

                                                                                The book is a fun read for people who like food and can tolerate Anthony's sense of humor and his "earthy" ways of expressing himself.

                                                                                1. I find them both tiresome, but lean toward siding with Bourdain on this one. Sure, he's a bit over the top on this, but he makes his living as a writer by being provocative.