Professional shit-stirrer Anthony Bourdain was on WNYC's Leonard Lopate show earlier today, answering questions on everything from fried butter on a stick to his recent media battle with Paula Deen. The No Reservations house did manage to avoid the swears, though. Below, the nine best quotes from the interview. Update: Here's the audio.
1) On "all those expletives": "It's the language I've always spoken. Still, the people I hang out with are mostly cooks. They're restaurant people. This is the English language to me."
2) On his heroes (including Fergus Henderson and Wylie Dufresne): "I think that they go against the current. They're taking risks, they're not taking the easy way, they're sticking with their principles. In Grant Achatz's case risking their lives in the cause of what they see as excellence?The doctors I believe suggested, "We're removing [Achatz's tongue, where his cancer was located]." This is the smart thing to do. He did the dumb thing. Largely, it's worked out."
3) On his definition of selling out: "Well, it's compromise. Any sort of compromise you're selling out?If you don't want to put a burger on your menu and yet the public demands it, that's a compromise. You know, I saw myself as selling out at least a little bit the minute I went on television. I define myself, I define work as standing in a kitchen doing something physical. It's a broad spectrum of compromise I guess."
4) On why the Food Network still irritates him after all these years: "Why am I so angry? Why can't I just let it go? I guess because I worked so long in just standing in kitchens cooking on a professional basis, it hurts me to people do bad things to food or disrespect it. And as somebody who's traveled the world and been fortunate enough to see people — often very poor people — cooking very well, and valuing food, it makes me cranky when I see food misrepresented or disrespected. And because I can be just a miserable SOB sometimes."
5) On all the drama with Paula Deen: "You know, I deserved the whacking I got back on that. I hate to beat up on her personally, and certainly I stand by the substance of what I said?I love butter. I feel bad — I stand by the substance of what I said but I certainly think it came across as more crass, personal and just plain nasty than I intended it. That said, is it necessary to serve a bacon cheeseburger between donuts? Is this what America needs right now?"
6) On Republican politicians eating fried butter on a stick at the Iowa State Fair: "Is diabetes good? Is morbid obesity good? You're celebrating that. An example like that first of all, how good can it be? You're celebrating something that is on a level of excess and grotesqueness that is leading directly to terrible health problems."
7) On Alan Richman's review of New York restaurant M. Wells for GQ: "I have absolutely no idea what went on there. My opinion on the matter is based entirely on his account, which sounded — it sounded like a psycho drama. I really don't know what was going on there, it was the weirdest review or whatever it was I've ever read."
8) On Alice Waters: "She's not a particularly good spokes model for her cause. She comes from an area rich in delicious things. She's comfortable, she has very elitist tastes that she has a very had time concealing. Actually, that's the part of Alice Waters I like. Her love of Provence and the Mediterranean sensibility is both charming and not helpful."
9) On demonizing Ronald McDonald to his daughter: "I tried to terrorize her. They have no problem messing with the minds of young children. How hard is it to scare a three year old? So yeah I managed to terrify my daughter and demonize fast food and make it scary and not cool."
· The Leonard Lopate Show: Food For Thought [WNYC]
· All Leonard Lopate Coverage on Eater [-E-]
· All Anthony Bourdain Coverage on Eater [-E-]