Sunday, July 17, 2011

"In 'Medium Raw' you write about your attempts to make your daughter hate McDonald's. I am curious to know how that is working...", Cont.

Anthony Bourdain answered the top ten questions posted in an AMA on reddit as I mentioned a few weeks ago. The whole segment is embedded at the end of this post. 

My guess is that the video was produced in anticipation of the new episode of No Reservations in Cuba which aired last week.

I had an opportunity to watch the response before it was taken down for audio adjustments. During that time, I thought about an unexpected answer to one of the questions posed to Tony (at 16:51). This reddit user asks:
"Who is Anthony really? You mock the Food Network and loath the culture that it has created around food, yet you appear as special guest Judge on multiple Top Chefs. You despise 'Foodies', yet you are one of the main inspirations for a new generation of 'Foodies'. Is there an internal struggle? Are you ever on the verge of saying 'fuck this', and opening a restaurant under a pseudonym (so the food, not your name, speaks for itself), where no one is allowed in the kitchen, and sous-chefs sign a non-disclosure form? Do you still have the passion to develop and experiment with new recipes?"
First, reddit fans around the world were probably thrilled that the chef expressed in the video an appreciation of the inquirer's username, "Drink Alone," which is an obvious reference to the "Forever Alone" rage comic meme.

Second, and more notably, Tony's response reveals either his full assimilation into the craft of television or a visceral revulsion to the inner-workings of the restaurant industry itself. 

I also see the motivation for this response as being due in part to the crushing pressure of industry critique. 

Certainly, Bourdain could pursue both endeavors and conceivably find equal success. Tom Colicchio does - among others in the industry. It's a shame that he's not interested.

But Tony seems to confirm the ambivalent feelings regarding ownership of an establishment in the service industry. For some, it's rewards don't seems so rewarding. It's difficulties seem so uncompromising. 

Anyway, the video returned this past week. Watch the whole response and catch the critical quote which starts at 19:24:
"Listen... twenty-eight years standing on my feet in the restaurant business... I mean I'm a good chef at best and a good solid cook. But you don't know my name 'cuz of my food. I had twenty-eight years of it, I'm fifty-five now. I'd be kidding myself, and everybody else, if I pretended to really have much to offer in the way of cuisine. So no, I think I will live with this self loathing, the indignity and all the other stuff that comes with whatever it is I'm doing. I will take the bad with the good and go forward. Cooking? No, If I learned one thing about the restaurant business at twenty-eight years in the restaurant business it's that I never want to be in the restaurant business as an owner of any venture involving food."

Note: This post has been revised since its original publication

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