Wednesday, March 7, 2012

No Reservations: A Night with Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain is real. It's like he stepped out of the TV in my lounge room and on to the stage at the State Theatre.

Tall, casual, beer in hand. He seems more in proportion in real life. He paces back and forth on the stage and only occasionally glimpses his notes on the lectern.

The format of the night is about an hour speech followed by thirty minutes of questions from the crowd. It's like sitting around the dinner table and shooting the shit. Awesome and entertaining. You get what you see, that's what I love about this man.

If you haven't noticed already, it's true. I'm a groupie. I'd say #1 fan but I'm not willing to flash my boobs at him. That would be like flashing my dad. Let's not go there.

I'm not going to give you a blow by blow of the night. I've got better shit to do. If you want the detail, you should have paid to see him like we did.

But I will give you Tony's top travel tips:
  1. Observe local custom; consider where you are and remember you're an ambassador for where you come from.
  2. Drink. Drink a lot of "whatever the fuck it is" that's the specialty in that location.
  3. The breakfast buffets at hotels are a killer. Avoid hotel buffets and hotel food at all costs. If you must order hotel food, go for the least sinister thing on the menu.
  4. Never eat where the concierge tells you to eat. The filthier the bathroom, the better the food. Find out where cooks like to eat when they're drunk.
  5. Find out what the local specialty is and go where the locals think its best.
Earlier today one of the cooks from Cafe Sopra and I were chatting about how history shapes the food we eat. Tony summed this concept up well: he states that food is the history of the world. People have paid a price for their national cuisine, it's their identity. When someone cooks for you, they're communicating with you, telling you a story: where they come from, what their experiences have been, rituals, traditions and tidbits passed down from one generation to the next. Then it's preserved, copied, bastardised, rehashed, recreated and reinvented. And not necessarily in that particular order.

Food is about sensation. It's about enjoyment and emotion. You can't plan the most perfect or delicious meal; its a process of discovery, it just happens to you.

Tony's life seems to have just happened in this manner. Working a deep fryer at a restaurant one moment, to author and rock 'n' roll chef celebrity the next. I've been thinking about this concept of life a lot lately: that life itself is a process that must be embraced and enjoyed, from moment to moment. Creating, evolving, changing, responding to emotive stimuli. That's the shit that keeps it interesting man, living in the moment and letting it all unfold before your eyes like a beautiful, rich and colourful tapestry.

I can't wait to see the new season of No Reservations, especially the Sydney episode where Tony visits favourites such as Porteño and Bourke St Bakery. I love you Tony! You have the best job ever; I gotta get me some of that.

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