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Loud and proud

Author and television host Anthony Bourdain rants and reflects in his new book, ‘Medium Raw’

(Melanie Dunea)
By Devra First
Globe Staff / June 9, 2010

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Q. In this book, you praise your heroes and take down your nemeses. With vigor! There’s an entire chapter titled “Alan Richman Is a [Tool].’’

A. I’m passionate about certain people who I think have been really good for the world of food and a little cranky about others who continue to disrespect it. I don’t see myself as an arbiter of virtue here, but as I have the advantage of not having a reputation to protect, I can say it.

Q. You write that David Chang of New York’s Momofuku restaurants is the most important chef in the country right now. Why?

A. He changed the game. He showed everybody what’s possible. He started creating [restaurant] spaces that seemed designed for chefs after work and got everybody else to come on board. He’s been profane and abusive rather loudly; he’s done just about everything wrong. He’s redefined what it means to be a chef and redefined fine dining. He’s broken a lot of rules as far as what people like me would consider putting in their mouths. Korean-French fusion was anathema to me a few years ago.

Q. What do you generally think of fusion?

A. I hate it. I hear that word and reach for my gun. I’d rather shovel elephant [dung] than go to Buddha Bar or Buddakan. It’s as much fun as chlamydia.

Q. In “Medium Raw,’’ you write that you are helping kill the things you love. What do you mean by that?

A. I’m part of the problem, right? I complain about people who are on the Food Network, I’ve almost made my living ridiculing celebrity chefs, yet I become one. I travel the world looking for unspoiled areas and family-run operations. I embrace and enjoy them and put them on TV [in the Travel Channel show “No Reservations’’]; soon people in ugly shorts and white socks will be there. I don’t know if I think it’s a good idea to fetishize food, and I can’t help it. I have mixed emotions about the ultimate effect on society of my good works.

Q. When you wrote perhaps your best-known book, “Kitchen Confidential,’’ you were angry about a lot of things. A decade later, you’re successful, apparently happily married, a father . . .

A. I’m always willing, prepared, and even inclined to believe that I’m absolutely wrong about whatever I said yesterday.

Q. Like eating fish in restaurants on Mondays? You scared everyone off that.

A. I’m sorry about it. It’s 10 years later. Things are better now. But it will be in the obit.

Interview was condensed and edited.

Devra First can be reached at dfirst@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at @devrafirst.