Anthony Bourdain and I have something in common- we have made a voice in being a ‘hater’. Bourdain is so much a hater, that he opened his Austin ‘Close to the Bone Tour’ show on July 9 with an incredible amount of shade cast upon the empire that is the Food Network. He recounted a detailed fantasy (nightmare?) of being thrown into prison with Guy Fieri as his roommate and waking up to the spiky-haired sports sunglasses aficionado [erm, assaulting?] Bourdain and using ‘ranch dressing’ to describe how the nightmare ends. If that’s not enough hate for you, I am not sure what is.
Anthony Bourdain has capitalized upon being a hater- he has television networks milking his bad boy, off-the-beaten-path ‘I Ain’t No Tourist’ trope as he travels the globe, eating everything. I so buy it- if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have attended his talk. I found the first half hour funny, but then when Ina Garten came into the boxing ring I couldn’t help but notice the amount of time he was taking to bash prominent food figures. What did Ina’s chambray shirts ever do to you, Tony? He spent almost half of his talk- arguably a stand-up routine- taking a giant shit on the Food Network, food celebrities, and anyone who ever said anything bad to Mario Batali.
If it weren’t for the question I had scribbled out in pathetic hopes of him picking me in the sold-out audience, I would have been more frustrated. I was posed to ask: “As a Millennial and an aspiring food journalist, how do I seek a ‘valid’ career in food writing? The ‘cronut phenomenon’ might fund this mass interest in food, but how do I as a young food media professional distinguish between good food writing and trendy topics that will inevitably pay my bills? How do I balance those two things?” (I know my super nerd comes out in full force when I rewrite my question pre-show four times…)
He then transitioned into the Tony I had hoped he would be- the public figure that brings our absurd notions of food fads and celebrity ‘chefdom’ towards a confident check of reality. I enjoyed the moments he brought up his daughter, and his desire to show her a world where society doesn’t tell her how to look or what to eat. He beamed at the idea that she would have ‘no problem with confidence’, learning early from a mother who boasts a brown belt in Brazillian Jiu Jitsu. He also emphasized the importance of respecting the people you work with, preaching the ‘no asshole rule’. You can test this rule by asking yourself: Would you want the person you work with to call you at 11 PM? If that person is an asshole, you don’t need to be working with them. He also strategically placed a tirade against Vegans AKA “sanctimonious assholes” between Instagram’s ability to make you feel awful about what you are eating (or not eating) and how the rest of the world cannot afford a gluten intolerance.
So, it was his banter that saved him. He strategically tied up incredibly valuable lessons between jokes about food porn and Giada’s big head, hoping that at least one important thing translated with another crack about vegetarians. I then realized, without asking it out loud, the answer to my question: It doesn’t necessarily have to be about ‘validity’, that a food writing career will justify itself if you can connect the humor and balance it with food news and issues. The food knowledge we are only beginning to appreciate is so important, and by educating through entertainment perhaps we can actually learn something.
In my head (or on this blog) I have decided that Anthony Bourdain would approve of my frank and outspoken Stupid Good voice. I feel like it was his whole point to go to his show, laugh, learn and go home to talk about it. My ultimate goal for ‘Stupid Good’ is to teach while making you laugh, bring you to understand your vital role in the kitchen and food industry, and to make you feel great about the food choices you make (most of the time, cookies are very important). Essentially, being a hater is good because it requires you to examine the world around you. Haters gonna [continue to] hate but seriously, Tony, can we please stop talking about Guy Fieri?