Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Food Media & News >
Oct 28, 2012 01:12 AM

New Yorker blogger "critiques" Anthony Bourdain

"When Meals Get Macho"

My take: The level of hubris is so high, I can't decide whether to laugh or be offended by this article. I do see a strain of truth to be salvaged [and to think the author is a former magazine editor], something to do with how Americans approach food, but the writing is so vile I don't want to tease it out. Apparently there is some sort of feud going on between Chez Panisse and Bourdain camps? What a pity, for everyone. I've generally appreciated both, in the past.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. "He’s left a crude hickey on this country’s food culture."

    That was my favorite line of the general I found it amusing that essentially an article going after Bourdain for being edgy for the sake of being edgy did that itself.

    While I find Bourdain to be very blustery (sometimes for the better, sometimes not) - I think he's also been very upfront that much of his writing/tv career was him trying to build a better life for himself financially. That he knew he had limitations as a chef, that he wasn't an amazing chef of his generation, and he didn't want to be on the line in his 50's or be a corporate chef for TGI Fridays. So when someone wants to write an attack article about his current attitude for food, I find it difficult to take it all that seriously because I think that much of it has to do with his brand and works for his niche of entertainment.

    1. Bourdain is different, eye- and sense-opening, and he's got style - every kind of style. What more does Ms. Adler want in a TV program about food, travel, or both? If she feels that Bourdain is too macho for her, there's always Rachael Ray. Yum-O!

      1. The prudish blogger sure does take herself seriously.
        Bourdain and his bluster are far more interesting than her badly written blather. Like most "blogs", it is utterly insignificant.
        The "hickey" remark _was_ a good laugh, however.

        1. I really liked this one. I was a AB fan for a minute....until he became a characature of himself. Many good lines here (the hickey one is good) but so is the one about aspiring cooks and AB "burping in their general direction". I also liked her comment about his "entitled immaturity". IMO kitchen confidential was an eye opener and really cutting edge in many ways, then it all turned into ridiculous BS. I just hope AB can call it quits before he makes such an ass of himself that he loses all respect for even the good things he has done.

          7 Replies
          1. re: sedimental

            I think AB will be just fine, whatever he does.

            1. re: linguafood

              Yes, I am sure he will be. Look at Paula Deen. No worse for wear, lol.

            2. re: sedimental

              Well, I saw it differently. The paragraph with the alleged "entitled immaturity" was bullshit. The author makes a number of accusations without explaining to readers how and why they are true. As a reader I expect an opinion—especially a dramatically damning one—to be a) self-contained and b) coherent.

              The author talks about control and self-respect, but I question if she has mastered either. This bully waxes about harm to food culture, but I'm seeing a lot more harm inflicted upon a fellow human being.

              1. re: calf

                Yes, your OP indicates your opinion on it.

                1. re: sedimental

                  It's one thing to have an opinion, it's another to explain it clearly. The kind of verbal put-downs in that article remind me of grade school. I expected the quality of thinking and conversation to be more reasonable than that, at the New Yorker.

                  I don't even follow Bourdain's shows anymore, but after this article I watched the new episode on Paris. It was about covering a kind of grass-roots cooking happening all over the city, being done by young chefs. He was respectful and asked good questions, and went to the trouble of getting two older chefs (Eric Ripert and Joel Robuchon) for their perspective on the kind of change that was happening. Nowhere did he "burp in the general direction" of the new chefs. Maybe I'm missing some crucial information, but the content of this article is not compelling, for examples like this one.

                2. re: calf

                  "Entitled immaturity" is the best characterization in the piece — concise and accurate and needing no explanation.

                  1. re: GH1618

                    I guess we all know what Adler is referring to when she talks about Bourdain's 'immaturity.' Some of us hate it, some tolerate it, and some enjoy it.

                    But the 'entitled' bit - at first glance, it seems she dropped the E bomb for no other reason than because it's a buzzword of an insult.

                    From the article:
                    "There is undeniable power to Bourdain’s vulgarity, but a lot of it reads as entitled immaturity. Suggesting that aggression is the only appropriate existential response to the demands of restaurant cooking—that hardened hands and focus are best matched with hardness throughout one’s life—he simulates teaching sophistication, then teaches solipsism."

                    Rereading the original context, Adler seems to have the whole thing backwards. Bourdain doesn't claim that he behaves badly or immaturely because he's a cook (or seldom, anyway). He's written many times that he was a self-destructive and badly behaved young man who started cooking because that was the only profession that would tolerate him at the time. He's written that a life in the kitchen slowly changed him from a thieving, drug abusing, irresponsible punk into someone who lived with a purpose... into a guy who does what he says he'll do.

                    Bourdain's critics seem quick to see his bluster and swearing and tendency to put his foot in his mouth and assume that's all he is, and that it's his whole appeal. It's not, and it's not.

              2. Bourdain is basically Guy Fieri without the bling.

                He's a hack of a cook who parlayed a poorly written biopic into a multi-million dollar media empire. It's the American dream on a plate. Kudos to him.

                12 Replies
                1. re: ipsedixit

                  Everyone has their own idea of ethics and self respect...and money making options.
                  If I were Paula, I would have stopped short of the ground beef patty between the crispy creme donut. If I were Anthony, I would have stopped short of posing naked with a salami between my legs. But that is me. Only they know if they regret their choices or not. Both have made a stellar career out of controversy, either way.

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    Where did you have the opportunity to sample his cooking?

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        I've sampled his cooking at Les Halles in NYC on more than one occasion. He's good.

                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        Where did Guy Fieri cook? I know he owns restaurants but I was not aware he ever ran a kitchen.

                        1. re: kurtt

                          But there is a difference between Les Halles and Fieri's restuarants, which by all accounts are basically TGI Fridays.

                        2. re: ipsedixit

                          while making up stuff is really, really fun, other than being a hack cook, there's really no evidence to support any of this.
                          if you think bourdain's stuff is poorly written, you should read food writing on the world wide interwebs sometime.
                          if bourdain has a "multimillion dollar media empire," i'm the paraclete of caborca.
                          crikey, does guy fieri even have a multi million dollar media empire? does he even OWN his show on the food network?

                          1. re: linus

                            Both are millionaires many times over.

                            There's a cure for that, y'know. I think they called it the "Freeman-Watts prefrontal lobotomy" a while back.

                            1. re: linus

                              Pretty sure Guy is a millionaire many times over. Read somewhere that he cleared close to $10 last year. Apparently has a garageful of exotic cars.

                              1. re: FattyDumplin

                                thank you for that info, cowboyardee. those figures were about what i expected, maybe a little more.
                                hardly the "millionaires many times over" predicted above.
                                granted, two very successful men.