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Anthony Bourdain Launches Live Tour With Guy Fieri Nightmares and Food Politics

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Recapping the celebrity chef’s “The Hunger” talk in Boston

bourdain on tour
Anthony Bourdain circa his “Close to the Bone” tour.
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“I hope I don’t fuck up,” says Anthony Bourdain, opening his 2016 tour, “The Hunger,” at Boston’s Symphony Hall on October 7. Boston’s been good to him, and he wants to put on a great show, but he didn’t sleep well the night before. He had a prison nightmare, he says, involving Guy Fieri as his cellmate — not a “loveable” Guy Fieri, but a “super-jacked, Nazi Guy Fieri, and he’s fucking pissed, looking down with hostility and lust in his eyes.”

Understandably disturbed, Bourdain declares a ceasefire in his Fieri feud and launches instead into an accounting of food personalities he currently likes: Andrew Zimmern, for one, is his “hero,” but Bourdain has no interest in doing what he does. “Been there, done that,” says Bourdain, also in awe that Zimmern is able to do the job and not drink. “When you’re eating scrotum, alcohol helps,” says Bourdain. “Andrew Zimmern eats a lot of fucking penis.”

Also on Bourdain’s good side: Alton Brown. Bourdain wonders what sort of blackmail Brown had on his network that allowed him to get away with actually having an intelligent show on air for so many years. And then there’s Ina Garten, who cooks legit food, Bourdain says. Everything she does is “correct.” But is she hiding something, he wonders — perhaps a house full of dead Cub Scouts?

Billed as “an unyielding, brutally honest monologue reflecting on diverse culture, street cuisine and his travels to lesser-known locations around the world," Bourdain’s stage show feels more like stand-up comedy as he jumps from quip to quip, balancing out the Zimmern/Brown/Garten lovefest with a good dose of snark regarding what he currently hates in the food world, from long descriptions by waiters to everything about Yelpers. (“Please stay after the show so I can punch you in the fucking face,” he says to any Yelp “elites” in the audience, eliciting one of the biggest rounds of applause of the night.)

He goes back in time a bit to hate on the bacon craze and “Asian fusion,” and he’s got mixed feelings about cupcakes. They smell so good, after all, and there are never any mass killings in cupcake shops, he says.

Among the jokes, Bourdain makes some important points. In response to all the “stick to food, man” tweets that he gets whenever he gets the least bit political, he declares: “There is nothing more political in this world than food. I’m not going to go Tom Colicchio on you; I’m not an advocate for anything, but I do know this shit.”

It’s a meandering show, but there are lots of laughs and a generously long Q&A portion, preceded by rapid-fire answers to frequently asked questions. (Worst thing he’s ever eaten? Johnny Rockets. “Fuck Johnny Rockets,” he says. “And I’ve eaten unwashed warthog rectum. I’ve eaten rotten shark.”)

“How do I get your job?” is unsurprisingly another frequently asked question. Bourdain’s advice: “Fuck up. Drop out of college. Don’t concentrate. Do a lot of cocaine and heroin.”

This guy gives zero fucks...

A video posted by Ian MacArthur (@imacarthur) on

The Q&A session yields some of the best moments of the night as Bourdain provides insight on the changing perception of America abroad (currently, some pity and ridicule); background details on President Obama’s appearance on the Vietnam episode of Parts Unknown (there were no talking points — just two dads having a “super relaxed” conversation — and Obama was “lovely” to the television crew); and whether any episodes didn’t come out as he had envisioned (Romania was tough because the local government was too eager to please, resulting in a “contrived, artificial monstrosity.”)

But the most touching moment of the show — and one that earned a standing ovation from much of the crowd — was when an audience member recalled being haunted by the Iran episode, which featured Washington Post correspondent Jason Rezaian and his wife, Yeganeh Salehi. The couple was “mysteriously arrested and detained” a few weeks after filming, and the audience member wondered what had become of them. “They’re right there,” Bourdain says, gesturing to a spot in the crowd before teasing the questioner for drawing attention to them and “fucking up date night.”

Bourdain’s tour continues through late November with stops in Philadelphia, DC, Toronto, San Francisco, and beyond, with more profanity than most of these venues have probably ever heard. His new cookbook, Appetites, comes out on October 25.

Watch: Anthony Bourdain Really Loves In-N-Out Burger