Now that several days have past and even a concert, I’ve had plenty of time to absorb and process last Tuesday. The fact still stands, I still don’t believe it happened. It’s hard for me to believe that I not only took a picture with Anthony Bourdain, and not only did he sign my book, and not only did I get to shake hands with him, but that I had a short but funny conversation with him.
The night started out with us arriving a little early at Solera. We sat around for a few minutes in the bar and then proceeded to the third floor. We stood in line to pick up our copies of A Cooks Tour and found a couple of seats close to the stage. At around 7:20, I spotted Tony standing across the room at the bar. I think he’s around 6’2″ or 6’3″ so he stuck out of the crowd. Linh and I were snacking on the various nuts and bread they had at the center of the table. I was not really nervous at this moment. That did not hit me until later. Around 7:30, Tony walked towards his table which was in front of the podium. Linh and I spent the next twenty minutes occasionally staring and pointing at Tony at his table and debating who had the bigger crush on him. It was later decided by both parties that I had the bigger crush. Sad? Maybe, but I can’t deny it. I’m secure enough with myself to admit I have a man-crush on him.
8 o’clock was rolling around and that was when dinner was served. We were determined to ambush Bourdain with camera in hand before we had to eat. We charged up to him and asked if we could get a picture. He didn’t even hesitate. I took a photo first with Tony and Linh. At this point, the photographer part of me had left the building or maybe even the state. I took the most boring picture with the worst composition. I had completely forgotten how to take a good photo. After Linh’s photo, I went to stand next to Tony for my photo. This is the point when I realized how tall he really was. I stupidly mentioned that to him as if he didn’t know how tall he is. I’m hoping the fact that he had a lot of alcohol (Heineken) that he did not hear me. After I shook his hand and thanked him, we went back to our table. The strange thing is that I was getting nervous after we got back to our table. I’ve met a few famous rockstars in my time, but I’ve never really been nervous around them. I guess Bourdain is just a huge rockstar in the culinary world.
They started serving the food along with Spanish wine. Everything was excellent. Chef McKee knows his stuff. I loved the piquillo peppers stuffed with goat cheese. My favorite was the pork belly and morcilla (blood sausage). That was just amazing. When the last dish came out, Tony went up to the podium and began the Q&A. He talked a little bit on a lot of chefs. He started off by poking a little fun at Andrew Zimmern. He then proceeded to rip on Rachel Ray. I thought I was the only one that had a problem with her and her crappy cookware. I laughed non-stop for a good five minutes. The question asked was if Tony had anything in common with Rachel Ray. This is a paraphrase of his answer: “I tip. Wait, she doesn’t. I have a neck. Wait, she doesn’t. I can cook. No, she doesn’t do that either. You know, f*ck that bitch.” The whole room bursts out in laughter. Another person (I think she was a spy from the Rachel Ray camp) asked him if Rachel’s “recipes” are really that bad if your in a situation where you’re cooking for six people every night. Bourdain answered with a resounding “No. You’re wrong…How hard is it to roast a f*cking chicken.” He’s right. I’ve done it Les Halles style. Twice. It’s pretty frickin’ easy. He ended that question by saying that it may take some work, but it’s worth it. Those are words I like to live by.
There were a lot more questions that he answered. Almost all of them he answered with a hilarious, but informative response. The last question was a very good one. The guy mentioned that he watched the video where Tony ate the beating heart of a cobra. He asked Tony if he knew he was going to die, who would he want to he his own heart. He said Iggy Pop would be the obvious answer, but a naked Rosario Dawson would also be good. Then he said maybe a crowd of strangers. Finally he decided on a group of vegans answer. It was a strange question that I think only Tony could have answered with a good smartass remark.
When we were waiting in line to have our books signed, he was signing pretty fast for the people ahead of us. I had a million things that I wanted to ask him and I couldn’t decide what to go with. My turn came up. Everyone printed out their names on a post it note so that Tony could easily know who he was signing the book for. When he got to mine, he had to take a second to try and pronounce my name. He signed my book and then I said the first thing that came to mind. I thanked him for shooting the Hong Kong episode of No Reservations and how it was one of my favorites. He chuckled. I then I was telling him that I lived around the area where that Chinese market lady was yelling at him in the beginning of the episode. He laughed and said he remembered that. I thanked him, and took another picture with him which sadly did not turn out.
That was how the night with Anthony Bourdain ended. It was too short of an experience. I wish I had more time to talk with him. I have literally a hundred thing to say to him and ask him. I’m so happy that he is cooler, funnier and more badass in person. I will definitely try to meet him again, given the chance.