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Anthony Bourdain Sounds Off, Part II

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Still from No Reservations
Still from No Reservations
Travel Channel

Here's part two of a rambling interview I undertook with one Anthony Bourdain—chef, author of the new book Medium Raw, and host of No Reservations. He's also known as the Reno Raines of the culinary world. Here he discusses Bill Cosby, angry white people, and chooses between a night spent with either Sandra Lee, Martha Stewart, or Gael Greene. In case you missed it, here is part one.

There's a chapter in Medium Raw that is getting a lot of attention. It's called Heroes and Villains. I hope, in a Beach Boys reference.
Heroes and villains are the people who continue to inspire me and who I think should be recognized in some way or others who have pissed me off or disappointed me. But it's a fairly flip chapter in which I put Wolfgang Puck on the Villains list. This is a guy I admire enormously — he's a titan of of the restaurant industry — but I put him on the villain list because he buckled under and dropped foie gras from his menus when I, for one, would have liked to see him stand up. I actually don't think he's a villain. I actually have a lot of respect for him.

It seems like you're being pigeonholed as the angry renegade, consumed with rage.
That's the stuff that of course is going to come out first. But there's a lengthy chapter that is an almost Cosby-esque embrace of fatherhood. I have a three-year-old girl crawling on my chest this very moment. There's a chapter called "I'm Dancing" that opens with me dancing with a bunch of Filipino nannies and my daughter in her little tutu and leotard. It's the whole idea of letting go of any any any idea that I could ever be cool again. The minute you are the father of a little boy or a little girl you are just kidding yourself. That Ramones shirt should go right in the garbage. The majority of the book isn't me angrily spewing vitriol and people who pissed me off. That's not what the book is about at all.

Happiness doesn't make headlines.
It is an understandable instinct to comb through for the juicy bits. I totally get it. I don't think it's unfair but I'll tell you when I finished writing the book I thought, "Wow, I wrote a kindler, gentler warm and fuzzy and much more philosophical book than Kitchen Confidential." It was really only later when editing it that I thought some of this stuff is really angry. But I think the tone is a lot less obnoxious and less testosterone-y than Kitchen Confidential.

Would you say it is a midlife crisis book?
No, if anything I am kind of nauseatingly happy lately. For the last ten years, I've been traveling anywhere I want and leading this kind of charmed life. I'm newly married with a beautiful baby girl. I live in the Upper East Side in Bugaboo country for God's sakes. That does change one's world view. It's a much nicer view. A lot more measured than one might get the impression from earlier reports.

Even though we've established that you are a thoroughly happy individual, you are still the master of the insult. What makes a good insult?
Something that's funny. I think that that works. Whether you're four-years-old in class, the school bully says something to you and you say something back that makes everybody else laugh, that's powerful. That's the reason dictators come to the comedians first because they are the most dangerous.

Any specific syllabic formulation?
I don't sit around storing up insults like chestnuts. It comes pretty quickly to me. To me it would be a failed insult if it wasn't at least moderately funny.

I thought the comments on the Tea Party on CNN with Anderson Cooper were nicely formulated, politically and rhythmically.
I'm getting mail, very scary mail from a lot of very angry white people telling me how they are not very angry white people. I was taken aback by that. I'm going to be doing speaking gigs out there in some of those states, and you know?what the hell. I've had a good life. I don't regret it. If Ted Nugent can be a pal of mine, no one should get too upset.

I know you're leaving to film an episode in Paris this afternoon. What are your future plans with No Reservations?
The challenge is always to mix it up and to undermine whatever expectations people had. So we're just pushing it and pushing it. Moving forward, assuming we continue to make shows beyond this year, we're looking at shows with a less food-centric, that are barely about food at all. I want to do a show about the Congo.

Ok, I'd like to close by playing a game called Fuck Marry Kill. Let's start with Frank Bruni, Sam Sifton, and William Grimes.
Gee, I like all of those guys. It's all about love. I'd marry the lot of them but Sifton would be my fave. I'd have to fuck Sifton. If I ever did have to fuck him I would be really gentle. I'd marry Bruni but I definitely wouldn't kill Grimes.

Well, you'd have to dispose of him somehow.
Okay but only because I don't know him.

Round Two: Sandra Lee, within the last 10 years; Martha Stewart, at whatever age you found her most attractive, Gael Greene, a younger Gael Greene
I'd definitely want Martha on my side. I'd marry Martha Stewart because she'd have my back. She's powerful and, I assume, vengeful. Sheerly from self preservation, I'd kill Sandra Lee just for the potential she'd have as First Lady of New York State to ruin my life. I'm going to be voting for Cuomo which is even worse. Who knows what unholy use she might make of her powers? Nothing personal but she scares me. And I guess I'd have to fuck Gael Greene.

Well, she did also have sex with Elvis, so you're in good company.
In spite of that. That's a buzz kill.

Lee Schrager recently tweeted new restaurant trends: Popsicles, farm chic, chickpeas.
I hate them all. I'd kill, kill, and kill again.

· Anthony Bourdain Sounds Off, Part I [-E-]
· All Eaterrogation Posts on Eater [-E-]
· All Anthony Bourdain Coverage on Eater [-E-]