There are very few people in this world whom I actually look up to: my mom and dad, Billy Joel, a couple nameless friends, and Anthony Bourdain. With the exception of my mom and dad, these other people have managed to make extremely successful livings and they're all pretty big fans of the sauce. I know I normally dedicate Thursdays to alcohol-related topics, but when the subject in question is intoxicated 75% of the time, I think that counts too.
I went to see Anthony Bourdain speak Tuesday night at Barnes & Noble and it was fantastic. He was promoting his new book, Medium Raw (sequel to Kitchen Confidential), and not only did I laugh my ass off, but I got to hear about upcoming shows, his ideal delivery method for weed, and his worst hangover. Classic. If you've read Kitchen Confidential, you know that this man started at the very bottom, is a self-proclaimed asshole, took his anguish out on his own body in the form of drugs and alcohol, and unapologetically takes you through all of it while still holding onto a strong work ethic and dare I say it, charm. Call me crazy, but I think you have to admire a man like that. Or be incredibly jealous. I stayed out til 4 am once (or twice) on a work night and didn't show up the next day because I got alcohol poisoning. If he knew me, he'd be ashamed.
Everyone has their own "taste" for people, and some people can't stand him. Is he arrogant? Sure. But I think his intelligence, passion and sense of humor make up for that; and any way you look at it, the man's doing something right. When a member of the audience asked what gets him through all of the shows he does on No Reservations (in rough conditions, poverty, etc), he bluntly responded:
"Alcohol. But we're not alcoholics on my show. We're fucking television professionals."
And when another person asked who he would like to go head to head with in a cooking competition (dead or alive), he replied:
"That Marcel [Vigneron] dude. You know it would be unfair; he'd get lost down the rabbit hole with all of his techniques…but I'm guessing my spaghetti and meatballs taste better than his."
After working as Executive Chef at Brasserie Les Halles and seven seasons of No Reservations on The Travel Channel, can you really argue with that? I also found out that they're shooting a new season in Amsterdam this summer, which should be pretty hilarious. And for you skeptics out there, give the show a shot. It's not for the faint of stomach, but it's very interesting. You won't see Top Chef in Cambodia or Istanbul, you know? It's not glamorous but it's honest.
Speaking of honest, Bourdain says that the cure for a hangover is this:
"Roll a joint and drink an ice cold Coca Cola. That will help with the self loathing. Then eat some cold Kung Pao chicken. It's greasy and spicy."
And what does he miss the most about being a non-celebrity?
"Sitting down in a bar at 4 in the afternoon…having a whiskey or beer…and listening to some Johnny Cash."
And this, ladies and gentlemen, is my hero.