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By Their Greatness We Shall Know Them
February 19, 2008 3:10 PM   Subscribe

Bourdainfilter: Culinary curmudgeon Anthony Bourdain and writer Michael Ruhlman announce the nominees for the first annual Golden Clog Awards, honoring "The Best and Worst of the Year in Food." [via]

The "ceremony" will take place Friday, February 22nd, at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival. Awards include The Rocco ("For worst career move"), The Fergus ("For greatest achievement in pork, and/or guts"), and more.
posted by joseph_elmhurst (74 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
More Rocco here.

Fergus Henderson's classic tome.
posted by joseph_elmhurst at 3:17 PM on February 19, 2008


So the awards are basically just a forum to bitch about the Food Network and Food Celebraties while tossing a few bones to gritty, down-to-earth chefs? Sounds like a Bourdain blast!
posted by dios at 3:23 PM on February 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


I do appreciate that he nominated himself for one of the "worst of..." awards.
posted by mr_roboto at 3:23 PM on February 19, 2008


So the awards are basically just a forum to bitch about the Food Network....

At a festival sponsored by the Food Network, no less.
posted by joseph_elmhurst at 3:24 PM on February 19, 2008


These two idiots giving out awards in anything other than "looking like an overgrown manchild fan of your favourite 80's band (The Ramones and Spandau Ballet, you figure which is which) is ridiculous.

Making fun of Tyler Florence doesn't make you edgy, it makes you a bottom feeder. Applebees sucks? Check lets move on. And the only award Giada should have is "Excellence in Neck - How the hell do you hold that giant bobblehead upright."

I will concede that Ruhlman's Chacuterie book is excellent though.
posted by Keith Talent at 3:32 PM on February 19, 2008 [2 favorites]


THE ALTON
For being on Food Network and yet, somehow managing to Not Suck

Love it
posted by jclovebrew at 3:40 PM on February 19, 2008


I was just on the website for St John (Fergus Henderson's London restaurant) and discovered some video gems for his new book and also that he is now selling "Unctuous Potential" (namely, pigs' trotters in jelly)... mmmm.
posted by patricio at 3:41 PM on February 19, 2008


Needs more molecular gastronomy. Come on, everything should be made of foam!

Right? Right? Oh... perhaps not.
posted by mosch at 3:42 PM on February 19, 2008


George W.'s Crocs (with Presidential Seal Socks).
posted by ericb at 3:46 PM on February 19, 2008


I used to like Tony Bourdain but he's become more grating as he gets more exposure. He's basically carved out a schtick that fits comfortably inside the realm of the "foodie" world while posing at an outsider by taking shots at easy targets.
posted by cell divide at 3:49 PM on February 19, 2008


I RTA: By Their Greasiness We Shall Know Them
posted by seanmpuckett at 3:54 PM on February 19, 2008


I ate at Les Halles a few weeks ago, and I wasn't very impressed. DId Bourdain create the French bistro craze in New York? Or he not really a celebrity chef, but instead a celebrity who also happens to cook?

(On the other hand, Mario Batali joints are very, very good).
posted by Bookhouse at 4:04 PM on February 19, 2008


My understanding is that Bourdain's fame comes via his books (and not of the cooking variety) not via his cooking.

I like him though, find his schtick humorous.
posted by bitdamaged at 4:11 PM on February 19, 2008


Oh, fuck, this is awesome. "THE CAT CORA AWARD -- For most fame based on least actual culinary achievement."

And I want to see Thomas Keller win the first Mario award. And Martin Picard should absolutely win the Fergus. I can't wait for the Au Pied de Cochon cookbook.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 4:35 PM on February 19, 2008


Atleast Bourdain had the humility to include himself in the Cat Cora award group:
"Tony Bourdain--"One fucking book. Did this asshole ever work anyplace GOOD?";"
posted by mrzarquon at 4:42 PM on February 19, 2008


The Robert Irvine controversy to which they allude.
posted by puckupdate at 4:42 PM on February 19, 2008


You'll notice that Bourdain apparently nominated himself for the Cat Cora.

"One fucking book. Did this asshole ever work anyplace GOOD?"

So at least he has a sense of humor. ;-)
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:45 PM on February 19, 2008


Bourdain did not create Les Halles. I believe he was just a chef there.

I find Bourdain hilarious. There's nothing like him on tv, and just last night I was amazed at how great the Jamaica episode was.

And, these awards are completely right on.
posted by hazyspring at 5:07 PM on February 19, 2008


Despite Bourdain's personality reputation, I'm constantly impressed by the humanity and sympathetic tone in his episodes. He does have a sense of humor about the fact that he's become what he used to rail against. And he's a blast to hear speak in person.
posted by supercres at 5:16 PM on February 19, 2008


Also, kudos to them for recognizing chefs who stand toe-to-toe with anti-foie gras... people.

(Bourdain's also talked about this at length... it's such an easy battle to pick, when KFC and other meat-factories are much crueler. It's an easy win because foie is "rich people food". And because the supposed description is much crueler than the reality.)

I'll stop now. But can you tell that the man is my kitchen hero?
posted by supercres at 5:22 PM on February 19, 2008


So at least he has a sense of humor. ;-)

Which is pretty clear from reading his one fucking hilarious book.
posted by ssg at 5:28 PM on February 19, 2008


I think the Au Pied du Cochon cookbook is out. I have it. It is pretty awesome
posted by JPD at 5:51 PM on February 19, 2008


Alton Brown should probably be up for the "Cat Cora" award. He basically went to drama school, then went to culinary school, then got "Good Eats".
posted by smackfu at 5:58 PM on February 19, 2008


Also, Mario shouldn't be up for the Mario award. Duh!
posted by smackfu at 6:00 PM on February 19, 2008


I think the Au Pied du Cochon cookbook is out. I have it. It is pretty awesome

You're right. I was waiting for the softcover. Mea culpa.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 6:01 PM on February 19, 2008


Bourdain is wicked funny and a good dude. Like any "big" personality he can be grating and a little tiresome, but I think he more than makes up for it with his good intentions and sense of fun.
posted by Divine_Wino at 6:14 PM on February 19, 2008


Anthony Bourdain is one of my favorite TV personalities. Charming, somewhat oafish and a definite smartass. It might sound corny but "A Cook's Tour" was one of the shows that sparked a desire in me to learn to cook and to try unique foods whenever possible. The Indiana-Jones-As-Foodie schtick may grate on some people (and is surely hammed up for the cameras), but the wonder that he conveys in trying new dishes from around the world seems sincere. I'd knock back a few brews and eat some still-beating snake hearts in a far-off region of the Orient with him any day.
posted by kryptondog at 6:19 PM on February 19, 2008


Or what Divine_Wino said :)
posted by kryptondog at 6:36 PM on February 19, 2008


Here is the artical that got Alan Richman the nomination, THE DOUCHEBAG. If you care to read it.
posted by nola at 6:39 PM on February 19, 2008


Also what you said kryptondog, I've always been pretty open to eating something strange, but Bourdain was definitely a factor in my now being willing to eat the weirdest fucking thing you can put in front of me, at least once. He embodies the "You never know until you try it" philosophy.
posted by Divine_Wino at 6:49 PM on February 19, 2008


Good for you kryptondog, I also derived inspiration from Bourdain's "A Cook's Tour" I've read two of his books since and enjoyed his point of view very much.
posted by nola at 6:50 PM on February 19, 2008


Can anyone tell me why Chef Donald Link gets the Crazy Bastard Special Achievement? What did he do?
posted by tellurian at 7:08 PM on February 19, 2008


Alton Brown should probably be up for the "Cat Cora" award.
FTW.
Seriously. The man is the über-anal patron saint of all that is obnoxious in the "foodie" scene.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:21 PM on February 19, 2008


Here is the [article] that got Alan Richman the nomination THE DOUCHEBAG

I honestly don't understand why this earns him the title "douchebag." It's honest. He appears to have evaluated, in good faith, each of the places he talks about. If any sort of criticism of New Orleans brands one a "haytah," then New Orleans is in more serious trouble than I realized. And I figured it was already in serious trouble.

Sez me, Turtles, nola.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 7:23 PM on February 19, 2008


Seriously. The man is the über-anal patron saint of all that is obnoxious in the "foodie" scene.

You mean that he has a slavish devotion to what's hot and popular among the gastronomic set, is obsessed with Michelin stars and 'resort' restaurants with $200 entrees, and encourages his devotees to seek out dried mulberries or wagyu beef or whatever Saveur is pushing this month?

Oh, wait. He doesn't do any of that. He's spent the last ten years teaching people about food science and history with simple preparations and humour, and he shills for a pretty decent brand of knives in his off-hours. Truly obnoxious, right.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 7:33 PM on February 19, 2008 [3 favorites]


Alton Brown was a gateway drug for me, and many people I know, to the world of gourmandism (I hate the term "foodie"). As someone with not much discretionary income, I find his meals (maybe not his recipes) inspiring and well within my budget. He may not have the chops of a Keller or the specialist knowledge of a Batali, but he's entertaining and encourages his audience to use good ingredients and techniques, which is more than I can say for Rachel Ray or most of the other current Food TV cooks.
posted by joseph_elmhurst at 7:58 PM on February 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


Alton can be condemned for one act alone; It's egregious enough to convict. The guy wears surgical gloves in his own kitchen. Sure, make patties with shit tainted supermarket hamburger, but heaven forbid we risk actually touching the food.

I did like his motorcycle series though.
posted by Keith Talent at 8:16 PM on February 19, 2008


Wait, I wasn't saying Alton sucks. Just that he falls into "most fame based on least actual culinary achievement". Unless you count the show itself as both the fame and the culinary achievement. He's not like most TV chefs who were actually chefs at some point.
posted by smackfu at 8:29 PM on February 19, 2008


honestly don't understand why this earns him the title "douchebag." It's honest.

Yeah it's honest, from the perspective of a cranky old douche.
posted by nola at 8:31 PM on February 19, 2008


he's entertaining and encourages his audience to use good ingredients and techniques, which is more than I can say for Rachel Ray or most of the other current Food TV cooks.

I'd just like to second this. I'm not a real fan of the man's recipes, but he has a demonstrable talent for making some of the concepts and technique of good cooking accessible. If you don't have a lot of prior experience and knowledge, a few episodes of Good Eats are much more enlightening than more traditional, watch-me-stand-and-make-this-recipe shows, which basically gloss over the underlying concepts and leave you with nothing but a formula. I mean really: if I just wanted a recipe, I'd crack open a cookbook and save myself a lot of time. G.E. just does a much better job taking advantage of the medium than any of the other Food Network shows.

Running a good restaurant and producing an interesting, informative cooking show are two very different things. I think Brown's show is good, but I'm not sure how much I'd enjoy eating in a restaurant if he ran one -- I disagree with some of his flavor and spice combinations in his recipes too often. (Which in the context of his show isn't a big deal, he's usually pretty clear about which items are just taste and which are critical.) In contrast, I think Mario Batali's recipes are generally impeccable and can't wait to eat in one of his restaurants, but I was totally unimpressed with his show while it was on.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:32 PM on February 19, 2008


er . . . I wasn't calling you a douche Turtles all the way down
posted by nola at 8:51 PM on February 19, 2008


He's spent the last ten years teaching people about food science and history with simple preparations and humour, and he shills for a pretty decent brand of knives in his off-hours.

He [Alton Brown] has spent the last nine years doing a show that spends approximately 15 minutes providing really interesting, detailed, unparalleled (and anal) instruction, and another 7 minutes offering superfluous, cheesy, fourth-grade-caliber skits and puppet shows. (That's assuming that the show contains 22 minutes of content, like most major network shows do.)

So it's not unreasonable to assign him a certain level of obnoxiousness. He should on PBS and he should abandon the really old schtick. He should not be on the ever-bottoming-out Food Network. (Which I watch religiously, and with abject hatred.) But hey, they just re-signed him to a big contract, so, no hope of that.

Truly obnoxious, right.

He's less obnoxious by comparison than other FN hosts, but only because the comparisons involve Rachael Ray and Guy Fieri and Marc Summers and the blessedly, dearly departed Dweezil and Lisa.

But again, if he were on PBS, with his current format, he'd be obnoxiousness incarnate.
posted by mudpuppie at 9:05 PM on February 19, 2008


He should on PBS...

Should be "should be."
posted by mudpuppie at 9:07 PM on February 19, 2008


And the only award Giada should have is "Excellence in Neck - How the hell do you hold that giant bobblehead upright."

+1!
posted by [son] QUAALUDE at 9:55 PM on February 19, 2008


He [Alton Brown] has spent the last nine years

Good Eats first aired in July, 1998 and is in the middle of its tenth season.

In any case, the lambasting of Brown (by a couple of cranks here) has been based on criticism that is shallow at best and unfair at worst.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 10:28 PM on February 19, 2008


Good Eats first aired in July, 1998

In which case, someone needs to correct IMDB.

In any case, the lambasting of Brown (by a couple of cranks here) has been based on criticism that is shallow at best and unfair at worst.

I think you need to reconsider the definitions of "lambaste," "crank," and "shallow." Or maybe I do. It all seems fair to me.

[1] Alton Brown should probably be up for the "Cat Cora" award. He basically went to drama school, then went to culinary school, then got "Good Eats".

[2] FTW. Seriously. The man is the über-anal patron saint of all that is obnoxious in the "foodie" scene."

[3] Alton can be condemned for one act alone; It's egregious enough to convict. The guy wears surgical gloves in his own kitchen. Sure, make patties with shit tainted supermarket hamburger, but heaven forbid we risk actually touching the food.

[4] Wait, I wasn't saying Alton sucks. Just that he falls into "most fame based on least actual culinary achievement". Unless you count the show itself as both the fame and the culinary achievement. He's not like most TV chefs who were actually chefs at some point.

[5] I'm not a real fan of the man's recipes, but he has a demonstrable talent for making some of the concepts and technique of good cooking accessible.

[6] And my comment.


What in there is shallow, or refutable? Seriously, I'm curious. Not being snide.
posted by mudpuppie at 10:45 PM on February 19, 2008


In which case, someone needs to correct IMDB.

Pilots, particularly indie pilots, are often not listed on IMDB. The pilot aired on a PBS station in Chicago in July, 1998.

What in there is shallow, or refutable?

Well, I think I explained adequately in my earlier response how #2 was shallow. And unfair. And refuted it, pretty much.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 11:39 PM on February 19, 2008


So the award features a golden Croc? And Mario Batali has an award named after him?And is nominated once? I mean, I liked the guy's shows (all three of them that I saw before he started doing Iron Chef America) and thought he was the best thing on FoodTV while they were happening, but isn't this award a bit...tilted?
(And why do these guys love Giada so much? Mind you, I've only seen her do that travel-and-dine thing which is pretty boring.)
posted by CCBC at 12:34 AM on February 20, 2008


And that Robert Irving article that ericb posted? Get this: "His Web site consultant claims he owes her thousands." His web site consultant says he owes her thousands? Jesus, what does he owe the designer? His IT must be a goddam millionaire! A website consultant -- I have found a new career scam.

And, there really needs to be a Ramsay award. For the asshole you'd most like to see removed from public view.
posted by CCBC at 12:48 AM on February 20, 2008


Say what you will about Alton Brown, but he's helping prevent his viewers from making egregious food mistakes, like believing the ideas that mushrooms absorb any significant amount of water if washed rather than brushed, or thinking that it's appropriate to use extra virgin olive oil (and those damned initials) in everything or that it's appropriate to use supermarket spice and flavoring packets in anything. All ideas put forth by some of the cooks (not chefs) who are dominating the network. For that alone he's doing a service to the good people of America, and their palates.

And the surgical gloves? I've only seen him don them when working with hot peppers. If you've ever scratched your nose or worse, your eye, after dicing up jalapeños without gloves, you'll know why he says that it's just for your own good.

Bourdain has every reason to slag him (and Tom Colicchio, who presides over Top Chef without ever displaying any specific skill or knowledge in his judging, which would be nice to hear once in a while) but he doesn't. That's a worthwhile endorsement, in my book.
posted by Dreama at 1:13 AM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


(And why do these guys love Giada so much? Mind you, I've only seen her do that travel-and-dine thing which is pretty boring.)

For better or for worse, her food isn't bad. Nothing complicated, some stuff that the average home cook finds risky (squid, sauces, etc.) a pretty firm grasp on her flavor profiles and the origins of her dishes, and the panache to make it all seem very possible to the viewer despite the fact that she is one of the few remaining trained chefs on the network.

Plus she's got big boobs and gets her cleavage out in nearly every episode. She is the eye candy on Food Network. (Retched Ray's FHM spread notwithstanding.)
posted by Dreama at 1:17 AM on February 20, 2008


Which is pretty clear from reading his one fucking hilarious book.

And presumably they meant just one cookery book. Bourdain was a chef/novelist long before he was a chef celebrity, and while his novels are fairly lightweight fare, they clearly established him as an entertaining, passionate, good hearted, charismatic personality.

Whether you think he's a douche or not, what you see with Bourdain is obviously what you get.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:41 AM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Dreama: Mario's got bigger boobs than Giada. And he's a middle-weight pro chef. If big boobs are the measure, well, both are junior league.

Maybe there should be a Chefs Gone Wild program. Wet T-shirt contests, chefs flashing boobs, laying their dicks on the table: Pron Chef!
posted by CCBC at 2:07 AM on February 20, 2008


^Sounds like every kitchen I've ever worked in, CCBC.
posted by goo at 3:32 AM on February 20, 2008


Another bourdain fan here - Charleston, SC
posted by toastchee at 6:03 AM on February 20, 2008


I loved the Iron Chef between Giada and Rachael Ray. With special surprised guests! Youtube.
posted by smackfu at 6:08 AM on February 20, 2008


I love Bourdain's show too. (That being said, I'll travel and eat vicariously with almost anyone.)
posted by LakesideOrion at 7:02 AM on February 20, 2008


Useless fact du jour: Alton Brown worked on the R.E.M. video "The One I Love."

I love Bourdain. Love, love, love. Own most of his books, have read the others, listened to the (Bourdain-read) audiobook of Kitchen Confidential on the drive to Maine last year (and the Gordon Ramsay autobiography, for that matter). He can do no wrong, so far as I'm concerned. His willingness to admit his own fuckups from a career standpoint (while also calling out the sort of lazy morons who decided to open restaurants in 1980s NYC) is endearing, his obvious joy about anything food-related...oh, I just love him.

Rachael Ray, his frequent target, deserves to be one for her redonkulously annoying schtick (seriously -- say "EVOO" in my presence and I'm gonna punch you). I'm down with the concept of 30-minute meals as much as the next guy, but sometimes the stuff she cooks is so reliant on prepackaged crap that it's just foul.

I wish wish wish our local celeb chef Michael Symon (now an Iron Chef) would have his own show on a non-Food Network channel. That man can cook.
posted by bitter-girl.com at 9:14 AM on February 20, 2008


Bourdain is like every "rock critic" I ever read. Anything popular or mainstream sucks in their opinion and is artificial and undeserving of anything but mockery. But this lesser known entity over here? That is great and authentic, etc. Mainsteam is not art; those that suffer for theirs is real art. Bourdain applies the same attitude to his view of the culinary world.

I enjoy the Food Network. And I like Bourdain's show. But they can provide two different services without Bourdain's repetitive insults to Food Network.

Is Rachel Ray a quality chef? No. She admits as such. She is a cook trying to teach every day people how to cook every day things. And yeah, her personality can be too much. But to bash her for not being a classically trained chef is a little unfair: she doesn't claim to be. I get a little annoyed when people are berated by some standard that person isn't aiming for anyhow.

The Food Network is not intended to be a collection of nothing but the most accomplished and unassuming chefs in the world. Yeah it probably emphasizes the personality and marketability of the stars over their abilities for some of the stars. But for chefs like Batali, Flay, Morimoto, and even Emeril, one cannot legitimately criticize their chops in the kitchen.

I would like Bourdain so much more if could get over his un-original "popular/marketable equals crap" affect.
posted by dios at 9:39 AM on February 20, 2008


Sure, go ahead and slag Alton all you want. Personally, I've found his instruction excellent and his recipes very sound (although I don't agree with 100% of what he says). Ever since I've began to take home cooking "seriously," he has been at the top of my go-to list, along with Julia Child and Cook's Illustrated.

Also, it's kind of hard to argue with a James Beard Award.
posted by slogger at 9:46 AM on February 20, 2008


dios: Anything popular or mainstream sucks in their opinion and is artificial and undeserving of anything but mockery.

If you watch any episodes of No Reservations or read his more recent writings, you'll see that Bourdain has a very special place in his heart for "street food" - meals prepared in carts on the streets of Thailand, in chip shops in Edinburgh, at tacquerias in Del Rio. This is the dictionary definition of popular/mainstream dining and he constantly espouses about how it's the true culinary experience of a locale, not the three-star restaurant in a hip neighborhood.

I can see how he can be grating, and lately his writing style has devolved into a journalistic rehash of his TV show's narration, but what I don't see is his vitriol being aimed at popular or mainstream touchstones just because they're popular. The Food Network has gone from being a channel that celebrates food and cooking to the culinary equivalent of VH1. Keep in mind that most of the actual *chefs* on the Food Network have been let go recently, including Batali and Emeril (who Bourdain regularly admits is a good chef).

As for Rachel Ray and Sandra Lee, if I wanted to prepare a meal using prepackaged ingredients I'd borrow my mother's Junior League Cookbook rather than pay for a cable subscription to learn how.
posted by joseph_elmhurst at 10:11 AM on February 20, 2008


This is the dictionary definition of popular/mainstream dining and he constantly espouses about how it's the true culinary experience of a locale, not the three-star restaurant in a hip neighborhood.

Yeah, that's kind of what my point was ("popular" as I was using it means press and attention). I think you can understand what I am trying to say, and I'm not sure you are really disagreeing with what I am trying say. Bourdain's attitude is like a rock critic. "If want to have great real and authentic southwestern-inspired cuisine, don't go to Mesa Grill, try this place you never heard of over here on this back alley." That is the same thing as a rock critic slagging Coldplay and saying that they are sell-outs and real and authentic unknown indie band is where real rock is at.

As for Rachel Ray and Sandra Lee, if I wanted to prepare a meal using prepackaged ingredients....

... you might like their show. If you don't want to do that, then you wouldn't watch their show. Again, judge them on the standard for which they are intended. There is nothing about those shows that presumes to be any more than what it is. Slagging them for being something they never try to be is rather callow.
posted by dios at 10:27 AM on February 20, 2008


Bourdain's attitude is like a rock critic. "If want to have great real and authentic southwestern-inspired cuisine, don't go to Mesa Grill, try this place you never heard of over here on this back alley." That is the same thing as a rock critic slagging Coldplay and saying that they are sell-outs and real and authentic unknown indie band is where real rock is at.

I don't think that's what he's saying. I think it's more along the lines of "you don't have to pay through the nose for a good, authentic [insert location/cuisine] experience. Check out where the locals go." If I'm in NYC and want Italian, I want to try a neighborhood place. I can get the Olive Garden at home, you know what I mean?

A tremendous amount of the food in this country tastes the same because it comes from Pegler Sysco, US Foodservice and other suppliers. If you want something made from scratch that doesn't taste like everything else, your choices are either high end or street food for the most part. Not only will it taste better, it'll have a lot less adulterated crap in it too.

I think the elitist rock star tack would sound more like "the only places I'll even consider eating at in NYC are Le Bernardin, Babbo, Momofuku and Jean-Georges."
posted by Atom12 at 10:57 AM on February 20, 2008


"If want to have great real and authentic southwestern-inspired cuisine, don't go to Mesa Grill..."

Actually, Bourdain liked the Vegas Mesa Grill. It's not "real and authentic," but it isn't meant to be, and he said it was good food that would be a treat for tourists who otherwise might not have access to creative Southwestern cooking in their home towns.
posted by nev at 11:15 AM on February 20, 2008


Can anyone tell me why Chef Donald Link gets the Crazy Bastard Special Achievement? What did he do?
posted by tellurian at 7:08 PM on February 19 [+] [!]


I'm working from faulty memory, but as discussed in Bourdain's recent show on New Orleans, Link basically snuck past the National Guard to get back into New Orleans when it was on lockdown, cleaned out the fetid walk-in fridge of his restaurant, and got his restaurant back up and running as quickly as possible to restore some form of humanity to New Orleans. Once his restaurant was back up and running in what was still an uncertain environment, he opened up another restaurant in New Orleans.
posted by jeditanuki at 12:32 PM on February 20, 2008


Thanks jeditanuki, that'll help my search filtering for information. I don't get to see Bourdain's show so I'd never heard the story.
posted by tellurian at 2:12 PM on February 20, 2008


Let's be fair, folks. Loathsome though she may be, Rachael Ray's only pre-packaged ingredients tend to be dry or canned goods that are still whole food ingredients -- frozen veggies, bagged salad mix, dry pasta, jarred olives/peppers, canned tomatoes. It really isn't, culinarily speaking, fair to lump her together with Scamdra Lee and her canned veggies and meat (!!) in a crockpot meal (WHAT?) or those 97% salt "____ seasoning" packets used to flavor dishes when real herbs and spices would be just as simple and her insistence that stirring vanilla extract into freaking Cool Whip makes it taste like something other than freaking Cool Whip. The woman doesn't even dice onions or slice chicken breasts herself; her show is the epitome of fake values of people who manufacture their busy lifestyles and value appearance over substance. Ray's ethos (if not always her execution) is for people who are busy but still want some semblance of authenticity.

And now that I've defended Rachael Ray, I shall go defenestrate myself.
posted by Dreama at 2:29 PM on February 20, 2008


joseph_elmhurst:

The Food Network has gone from being a channel that celebrates food and cooking to the culinary equivalent of VH1. Keep in mind that most of the actual *chefs* on the Food Network have been let go recently, including Batali and Emeril (who Bourdain regularly admits is a good chef).

As for Rachel Ray and Sandra Lee, if I wanted to prepare a meal using prepackaged ingredients I'd borrow my mother's Junior League Cookbook rather than pay for a cable subscription to learn how.


See, I'm with him there. Mario's one former show demonstrated how to cook a really, really good meal in about the same time as a Rachael Ray or Sandra Lee show, but without using such crappy ingredients. I'm not a food snob, I love my junk food as much as the next guy, but given this country's many problems with obesity/general lack of knowledge on food, The Food Network is missing a really amazing opportunity to teach how to make GOOD food fast and not just crap from a box. (Or, crap from a box plus cocktail, if you're Sandra Lee).

Atom12 is right, too: so much food in this country comes from a handful of purveyors, you're only really getting proper food at the low low and high high ends of the scale. The most depressing meal I had in 2007 was on a small island in Maine on a holiday weekend when the only place open was some lame joint with a bunch of prepackaged Sysco crap -- I'd have given my arm for a nice piece of fish and a salad!

When Sandra Lee and her ilk perpetuate the notion that it's OK to rely on prepackaged garbage, well...you end up raising kids who think chicken comes in nugget format and no other. This is one of the reasons I really don't watch the Food Network anymore unless it's Alton Brown or someone else I respect. I'm not LEARNING anything, and that's why I want to watch it!
posted by bitter-girl.com at 2:38 PM on February 20, 2008


The woman doesn't even dice onions or slice chicken breasts herself; her show is the epitome of fake values of people who manufacture their busy lifestyles and value appearance over substance. Ray's ethos (if not always her execution) is for people who are busy but still want some semblance of authenticity.

And now that I've defended Rachael Ray, I shall go defenestrate myself.


Duly noted, Dreama. Ok, so she's not exactly One Cocktail Too Many Sandra Lee, but some of the things I've seen Ray cook have sent me screaming for a corner.

(Laziness, to me, is buying the chopped frozen Vidalia onions... I know, I know, Bourdain would have my head for that one)
posted by bitter-girl.com at 2:43 PM on February 20, 2008


One more thing I'll add in defense of street food.

I don't live in NYC but manage to get there on a semi-yearly basis. I usually end up staying near Radio City Music Hall, whether it's for conferences, convenience or whatever.

On one trip I was staying at the Hilton. I also had the supreme fortune of witnessing the unconditional love of Rocket from the Crypt [insert the name of the Greatest Band In The World if it matters to you]. I got back to my hotel and I was ravenous. I found the gryo cart dude who camps out at the end of the block -- the one with the long line at 1 am. The gyro platter that I got (complete with hot sauce that "white people never ask for") was nothing short of transcendental. For $5. I have had it on subsequent visits and it still delivers on a level that I cannot put into words.

It's now to the point that my wife and I look forward to that $5 meal from the guy with the cart more than we do a dinner at Blue Ribbon or another great restaurant. Those street vendor foods (when done well) are absolutely deserving of your patronage and respect.
posted by Atom12 at 4:02 PM on February 20, 2008


Bourdain's attitude is like a rock critic. "If want to have great real and authentic southwestern-inspired cuisine, don't go to Mesa Grill, try this place you never heard of over here on this back alley."

I think of him as being more like a retired musician, trying to preach it to the modern kids: 'What the hell do you want to listen to those terrible Pat Boone cover versions for, when you can listen to the real thing by Little Richard, Fats Domino, The Charms and the El Dorados?'

Of course, some people prefer Pat Boone. But they do deserve our mockery, because they're obviously as dumb as posts.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:44 PM on February 20, 2008


Coincidentally, I received my copy of Fergus today and can't wait to jump in. The bacon Dad and I cured and smoked a couple of weeks ago was simply fucking awesome, and Dad's corned beef--both thanks to Ruhlman--was even better. (I'm the cook; Dad's a meat lover in need of a hobby. Properly mixed, I think we'll end up with one of those only-in-the-movies Dad/son things. Worst case is we enjoy "too much" sausage.)

Bragging about my head cheese last Fall would require a self-link to a certain privacy-abusive social site that doesn't make your eyes bleed like the other one does. The head cheese was food, which was honestly more than I expected. Better executed, I might even like it.

Lamb brains. And I've actually never tried liver other than {in|ac}cidentally in braunschweiger, etc. Hmmm.
posted by phrits at 8:23 PM on February 20, 2008


dios, I think that you're conflating Bourdain's interest in popularizing individuals who promote food for food's sake with an elitism. It could be construed as a sort of elitism if you're crunched for food preparation time, but his habit of idealizing Julia Child and others of her generation speak more to an interest in the ability to cook as a skill or aspiration and not just something that you do for a few minutes before you dive into your requisite evening meal. Or if it is done quickly, it could be done right. For anyone with this view, a good portion of the Food Network will be anathema.

As was mentioned, Bourdain (and Ruhlman! Don't forget that guy, his writing's good, I'd recommend it, including The Elements of Cooking which I received recently as a gift) visited Mesa Grill and to quote a blog comment I just found that appears to be a transcript:
Bourdain: I’ve had a lot of authentic tamales. If I had this in Mexico, on the street, I’d be saying, “Holy Shit, this is one king hell of a tamale.
Las Vegas is kind of the antithesis of the local, good neighborhood joints that Bourdain loves, and I don't think he really buys into the celebrity restaurant chain idea. You don't hate P.F. Chang's or Cheesecake Factory or what have you because the food sucks (although that's a valid complaint), you hate them because you could be eating some local fine dining, or even at a hole in the wall where someone knows their craft instead of a factory-like staff that learned their craft from training videos. If I go to an excellent restaurant and the chef/owner is actually in the kitchen and the meal is made with fresh, local ingredients, it might still taste the same as it would if that chef had a series of restaurants under his name and I was getting something halfway pre-prepared, but I think there's something to be prized in the former situation.

Rachael Ray, Sandra Lee, and the like are annoying to me not because they do what they're trying to do badly, but because I don't really like a good portion of what they're doing. I can cook like Rachael Ray without watching her show. I can stack two cakes on top of each other and add it to my "tablescape" without watching Sandra Lee. There aren't many skills to be learned here. Cooking is something almost anyone can do. If I'm an elitist for thinking it's a skill people should at least try to master, then so be it.
posted by mikeh at 12:48 PM on February 21, 2008


Winners posted here.
posted by joseph_elmhurst at 10:26 AM on February 25, 2008


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