Anthony Bourdain Roasted Guy Fieri (and Food Allergies) at Portland Tour Stop
Guy Fieri could probably charge Anthony Bourdain royalties at this point. The Kulinary Gangsta has been on the receiving end of Bourdain’s animus since Food Network viewers first met the spiky-haired celeb-u-chef in 2006.
From “Guytalian nachos” to new show “Guy’s Grocery Games,” Bourdain—on break from taping CNN’s Parts Unknown— still finds much to mistrust in the one-time founder of a joint called Tex Wasabi’s.
It was with Fieri that Bourdain opened his one-man show this Tuesday at the Schnitz—played to a packed, beardy, and highly amorous crowd. And, in one sense, it was with Fieri that he left us (before jetting off to Chicago, the last stop in his 10-city Close to the Bone tour).
Bourdain—newly 59, fresh from wrapping production on Season 6 of Parts Unknown, now silver-haired and slim from jujitsu—worked through his monologue with the ease of a man who knows his schtick (the show was heavily sourced from 2001’s A Cook’s Tour and 2008’s Medium Raw).
Moving from the Food Network to fatherhood, organic produce to food allergies, Bourdain won serious applause for lambasting both bacon tattoos and beer nerds (odd, I thought, from an audience sporting a high percentage of sleeve ink and IPAs in plastic cups). Ina Garten got some love/hate. MSG found a friend. And then Bourdain opened the evening to questions (paraphrased, below).
Where did he eat in Portland? Bourdain, apparently, hadn’t eaten all day—because jujitsu requires an empty gut. And anyway, he was drinking a beer.
What’s up with Timmy McMasters? Avid watchers of Bourdain shows like No Reservations, The Layover, and Parts Unknown may recall frequent invocation of this young naïf who, Bourdain confirmed once and for all, is not real. (Though often violent references to Timmy’s fate might be, in part, revenge against a middle school bully.)
Why is he doing this tour? Because it makes him a lot of money, silly lady!
Where else would he live, if not the US? He’s a dad now, but if things went very, very wrong? Vietnam wouldn’t be a bad idea. Though if confined to a single city for life, Bourdain—like chefs everywhere, he claimed—would choose Tokyo in a heartbeat.
Bacon maple everything is so over; what would be the next flavor trend that he’d retire? Bourdain dodged this question, reflecting instead on positive trends here in America—for example, the ascendance of kimchi, whose funk now serves as “hipster bait.” In a nation of immigrants, Bourdain said, corn dogs and apple pie were never the last word in American cooking. Our palates are changing, he said, and things are getting really interesting.
Which, it turns out, was Bourdain’s last word. As we filed out into the gorgeous, muggy, Portland night, I thought of a recent conversation with Andy Diaz, owner of Blackbird Wine and Daruma Sushi—and also Bourdain’s guide to Puerto Rico in a 2006 episode of No Reservations.
“I think if he just opened his mouth, people would line up to listen,” Diaz said. “Now, [on CNN] good food is still really a part of it, but he’s got the opportunity to talk more about issues like poverty, socioeconomic things that didn’t match the overlay before. If he did the Puerto Rico show now, he’d definitely talk about the standard of living.”
Perhaps, then, it's back to the boob tube we should turn for Bourdain’s deeper insights. Because this show tasted less like the steak of the tour poster, and more like, say, Bourdain’s version of Fieri’s well-larded nachos—had 'em before, still seduced by that salt-fat-sugar balance, but really? We know this shouldn’t be all we’re having for dinner.