Anthony Bourdain Essay

Anthony Bourdain Essay-44
The true god of the restaurant business, of professional cooking, is not brilliance and creativity. It is doing the same thing, exactly the same, again and again and again. Bourdain: I am very, very much for all restaurant people making a living wage. And you know, two weeks' vacation was pretty much unthinkable -- there wouldn't be a job waiting for me when I came back. What do you think is the worst, dumbest, most pointless food trend right now?

The true god of the restaurant business, of professional cooking, is not brilliance and creativity. It is doing the same thing, exactly the same, again and again and again. Bourdain: I am very, very much for all restaurant people making a living wage. And you know, two weeks' vacation was pretty much unthinkable -- there wouldn't be a job waiting for me when I came back. What do you think is the worst, dumbest, most pointless food trend right now?

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So that's something that I think it would be useful to point out. I mean, there aren't a lot of 50-year-old chefs still working the line. I think the food that we value, status-wise, is [changing].

That if you have a good job, you're 35 years old, and you think it's going to be easy, or that you're going to make a good living, you at least need a realistic picture of what the business is really like before you make a jump or a commitment like that. Because I've seen that so many times, kids coming out of cooking school and working in my kitchens, and literally two weeks in, you see it. You can get just as much bragging rights these days saying, "I found this amazing Sichuan noodle place in the ass-end of Queens. The noodles are $1.29, they're the best fucking noodles you've ever had. Also, look at who's eating at Le Bernardin, for instance.

I mean, I think bogus trends, they don't last long.

The restaurant business, in my experience, is sort of like an organic creature. Is it better than Krispy Kreme and a decent street slice? , those years, had already long gone -- I wasn't doing cocaine, I wasn't fucked up on heroin, I wasn't pounding tequila shots all night, or going out with waitresses -- I would bump into a lot of line cooks on the road who would want to do those things, and would expect me to take part. Bourdain: I think people's expectations of me, as far as what I'm eating, are already pretty low. Some of them suck, some of them are going to be good, some will be interesting -- that's interesting to me.

Nearly 60 minutes later, just as our allotted interview end time, shifted by his delayed arrival, is upon us, a torrential, biblical downpour begins outside, leading to the gifted time.

"I ain't leaving anytime soon in that shit, so take all the time you want," he says.

But at the same time, you're getting a better-educated group of people, with actual options, entering the business.

Whereas before, your pool was sort of, you know, the dumbest kid in the family, the poor people from rural areas.

Or the people who do silly food and don't learn from it. " And it's not the worst thing in the world, because 20 years ago, when I started, nobody had heard of ramps. Bourdain: You put, you know, chipotle aioli on my burger without asking, I would prefer you not. I don't want it too obtrusively outside of that comfort zone. No matter how far away he went, it always brought you back to a familiar place. Others will like me for reasons that I don't particularly identify with or feel are necessarily representative of me. I often bring up Hunter Thompson as a sort of cautionary tale here -- a writer who I clearly admired very, very much, but I think somebody who, when he'd show up, people would expect him to be Hunter Thompson, Duke from the book. Success came late to me, so I sort of knew what I wasn't and what didn't make me happy. I know what it's like to look in the mirror and be disgusted and ashamed. I don't need to know what's out of the fucking hill, or who put the grapevines in, or that they were transplanted. And they see that I'm passionate about food, why am I not passionate about beer? Bourdain: Well, beer -- visually speaking, it's why we generally don't do winery scenes or brewery scenes. So it was the default setting when everything else went wrong. And I knew that the first thing you do in the morning, when you go into your brunch shift or your breakfast shift or any short-order shift, is you put the fucking home fries on. Bourdain: I know what we saw making it as: it fills up a third of the plate. And when the plates came back from the dining room, more often than not no one would touch the potatoes, or they'd pick at one or two, they didn't eat 'em. I live without dessert much of the time -- I mean, because of the jiu-jitsu and because I'm just not really a sweets guy, I'm much more of a cheese guy. I mean, if you'd never served me dessert, I really wouldn't miss it.

Every chef, for instance, does silly food at some point in their career, or food that they maybe shouldn't be doing. So I'm just kind of forgiving of, you know, the ingredient of the month, you know, everybody, "Oh, it's ramps! You know, there's a lot of self-seriousness, and pretense, and pomposity, and excess that comes with something that's not that far from show business. But this is clearly a move in a positive direction. You know, there are hipsters out there making cheese. about hamburgers, you call out restaurants that serve house-made ketchup. It needs to at least remind you of something, right? There's a proliferation of recipe videos that involve mashing up seemingly incongruous foods. Bourdain: I'm not about novelty food, if it's just for novelty, or you know, like, state-fair food. I'm not saying I know how to be happy, or how to be a good person, or any of those things. You know, I've tried very hard since that first lucky break to not fuck up. I know how to disappoint people, hurt them, betray them, let them down, let myself down. Because no matter how good it is -- this might be one of only five remaining bottles left on Earth, Napoleon may have put it in the bottle -- but visually, it's red stuff going into a glass. Even with wine, I'm happy, maybe even happier, drinking some local stuff at an agriturismo. I'd rather order a Burgundy, not knowing what I'm doing. And you make them in huge amounts and you re-heat them. So it just was, here, you're making these mountains of these things that are good for a while, but they're invariably cold, or burnt. You know what David Mc Millan calls "the scavenger hunt of sadness." You know? Very proud of the dessert chapter in the book, by the way, because it's pretty representative of how I feel about the world. Bourdain: A little something -- well, there's some from my childhood that, of course, I have a grip on. Obscure old Escoffier era stuff that you never see, I kinda like. Did your family go out for fast food very often when you were a kid?

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