Kitchen Confidential's Anthony Bourdain brings his touring one-man show to Massey Hall this Wednesday September 22.
Enter here to win VIP tickets to the event as well as access to an after-the-show meet ‘n' greet cocktail party catered by snout-to-tail bistro Beast and an autographed copy of his new book Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People who Cook. See part one of the interview here.
Is Medium Raw the sequel to Kitchen Confidential?
That's a fair statement. It specifically follows what's happened to me since that book and more importantly, what's happened to the industry. Kitchen Confidential concerned a career that took place mostly in the 70s, 80s and 90s. A lot has changed in the last 10 years, so an update was almost mandatory.
In the Heroes and Villains chapter of the new book, you take out a number of foodie sacred cows - Alice Waters, Gael Green, Alain Ducasse - as well as sing the praises of a number of others. What do you think of your friend Marco Pierre White flogging instant bouillon on TV?
I saw the commercial when I was in London. It's hysterical. Marco is honest with the world. He peaked, he got his three stars and then he announced almost immediately that he wasn't going to be cooking in his kitchens anymore. He's been pretty upfront about how he's chosen to live his life and what it's about. I don't have a problem with that. In fact, I was actually kind of charmed by the commercial.
Any thoughts on pal Gordon Ramsay's trajectory?
From what I can tell, Gordon makes all his money - and quite a lot of it these days - from television. The restaurants don't seem to be doing that well. He's having a spectacular success with Hell's Kitchen - which I despise - in the states, but I like the British version of Kitchen Nightmares very much. Gordon's another guy who paid his dues. He's like Marco: work, work, work. If you conked them over the head with a lead pipe, dragged them into the kitchen and chained them to the stove and told them to cook, they could. There's no bullshit about that. They're both brilliant cooks and they've proven their brilliance elsewhere.
What about someone lightweight like southern fried Paula Deen?
I can't bear to watch her, but I don't hate her. She's good when she's covering the food of her background and area of expertise, that sort of southern home-cooked comfort food. I don't have a problem with it. It's on the spectrum of offensive that doesn't really grate for me. I'm rooting for her, in a way. She came up hard and I'm kind of liking that she's making a living.
I think he's remarkably likable but I'm uncertain about how I feel about the premise of the show, wholly out of concern for Adam's life. I don't know how he does it, day after day, week after week. I'm a little frightened and horrified on his behalf, but I like him. I've never met him but I think he's good on TV. And bright and smart. He'd be good in other formats. He certainly owns this one!
You started out cooking in New York in the late 70s and early 80s when the punk scene there was at its peak. Were there many musicians involved in the restaurant biz back then?
There were a lot of people that sort of straddled both worlds, though most of the well-known punk rock musicians of the time didn't work. Their girlfriends supported them - stripping, hooking or whatever else, ‘cause none of them were selling records.
Were you ever in a band?
Oh my god, no. I'm inept! But if I could live my life all over again, I'd play bass in Parliament-Funkadelic. In a perfect world, I'm Bootsy Collins.
What's next on your plate?
I've got a graphic novel I'm doing with DC Comics called Get Gyro in the pipeline for next year. I describe it as Yojimbo meets Big Night and Babette's Feast, an ultra-violent slaughter-fest over culinary arcana.