Tonight I saw Anthony Bourdain at one of his speakings. I have not seen him since 2007 at Solera. If you have not seen any of his speakings, let me paint you a picture of the first few minutes of him walking onto the stage. The theater is darkened and the stage is lit. His name is announced and he walks out with a bottle of Summit beer in one hand. The audience erupts in applause which inevitably results in a standing ovation as he makes his way onto the center of the stage. As Tony approaches the podium, he slams back half the bottle. He starts off by asking the audience who here are restaurant people. A large portion of us raise our hands. Tony then asks how did you guys get a Friday night off to see me? He then follows up that question with a very typical, snarky remark, “it’s a bad fucking night to be eating out in Minneapolis.” The crowd, myself included, bursts out in laughter and the whole theater is clapping and cheering again.
The night was filled with Bourdain’s uncensored view on the current state of the culinary world mixed with stories of his travels. There was a lot of jokes and jabs at other celebrity chefs including the story of his encounter with the evil Sandra Lee. In addition to watching No Reservations and reading his books, I listen to a lot of his interviews and audio recordings of other speakings he has done in other cities. I would say around 10-15% of what he said tonight, I have heard him say in some form before including his jokes. Even so, Tony is such a great storyteller that it is great to hear again. If you ever get a chance to see him talk, make sure you do. You may not agree with all of his views, but I guarantee you will be entertained. He may be offensive sometimes, especially to vegetarians, but his opinions are honest, thought out and though it may be hard to believe, rooted in respect.