It's no secret I love Anthony Bourdain. Kitchen Confidential is a rite of passage for anyone in the restaurant industry, and the Nasty Bits is one of the best collections of essays of any sort. Bourdain's writing is tough, honest, and brutal. It's rarely sentimental, so if he does wax nostalgic, you know it's for a good reason.
Lest you think I'm just a raving sycophantic fan girl, there was a time when I wasn't quite sure about Mr. Bourdain. I wasn't crazy about the Cook's Tour show on Food Network, and I started to think perhaps he was a character - an affect - full of himself and riding the laurels of an accidentally good book.
I remember there being one single point where I became fully re-convinced that he was indeed the bard of the back of the house, but I can't remember what it was. At some point I realized he was completely honest; there was no affect. He really was that cool.
There were a few murmurings of people wondering what he would be doing. I thought he might do some reading. It was a little like standup; nearly ever famous cook (not chef, but cook) on the Food Network and beyond, but he also poked fun at himself. The show was not just laced with but knitted with delightful profanity, just like a restaurant kitchen. I don't want to say too many things just in case anyone in another city googles and finds this.
One of the things I loved the most was the Q & A portion of the evening. Mics were set up in the theatre - even in the balcony - and audience members lined up to ask questions, which Mr. Bourdain answered honestly and completely. There was one funny moment when some dolt from the corn industry stood up and started reciting everything they tried to shove down our throats in last year's High Fructose Corn Syrup ad campaign (literally, the same verbiage); "it's fine when used in moderation" until everyone booed and shut her up. Actually that was pretty funny.
All in all, I found the talk to be completely inspiring; Mr. Bourdain waxed lyrical about traveling and food and his family. The man can turn a phrase on the fly like no one I have ever heard. It was super cool.
So now I've seen two of my heroes at the Palace - Anthony Bourdain and David Sedaris. When's Neil Gaiman coming?