Spending hours glued to the TV watching Travel Channel’s Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations isn’t difficult to do. On the show, chef and jet-setter Bourdain whisks himself and his crew around the globe to explore local culture and cuisine. From Beirut to south Florida, he has a true wanderer’s heart.
“I’m pretty sure I could sit down with just about anybody,” said Bourdain. “We could eat barbecue and drink beer together. We could at least have that in common.”
Even less exotic U.S. stops hold a fascination for this traveler.
“In the limited time I have, I’m looking to learn as much as I can. I always see these [tours] as sort of a reconnaissance for the possibility of returning and making a show,” he said.
The 56-year-old go-getter just finished filming his eighth full season with Travel Channel. He soon will move to CNN to host a new show about the intersection of food and culture.
Bourdain’s “Guts and Glory” tour hits 11 cities to promote his last season of Travel Channel’s The Layover, which begins Nov. 19. The program features cities he visits for only 24 to 48 hours.
On Sunday, Bourdain gets rowdy with the good folks of the Oklahoma City metro. Rose State College in Midwest City, in conjunction with Ludivine, 805 N. Hudson, presents “An Evening with Anthony Bourdain.” A VIP meet-and-greet reception after the show will feature hors d’oeuvres and photosigning opportunities.
The show itself presents an eclectic preview of the projects Bourdain has under his chef’s hat.
“As I abandon old material and work in new material, [it’s become] a little combination rant discourse, stand-up routine, followed by a question-and-answer period. So, it’s a talk, but ...it’s just me,” he said. “I’ve been sort of secretly sneaking around doing five minutes, 10 minutes of stand-up here and there at the clubs around the New York area.”
Get Jiro!, a graphic novel written in collaboration with Joel Rose and drawn by Langdon Foss, was released this summer by DC Comics Vertigo imprint. Bourdain said he is particularly proud of Get Jiro! since he grew up collecting comic books and thought of himself as “an enthusiast and wannabe comic artist."
The food scene
Of course, food is still his greatest passion, and he spoke excitedly about the emergence of new food subcultures.
“If you look at New Orleans, for instance, there’s a huge number of Vietnamese. And that’s delicious, delicious food,” said Bourdain. “[There’s] a whole new sort of supply train of ingredients that are now entering the spectrum of flavors [that] will be in 10, 15 years, traditional New Orleans cuisine.
“So as you get other people from other places coming in and setting up shop, generally speaking, it’s an improvement culinarily. It’s good for the food scene.”
With a thriving Asian district, OKC hosts exciting food cultures of its own. The burgeoning epicurious community has welcomed in the fusion of once-obscure ingredients, and trends from the coasts — like food trucks — don’t take long to catch on.
Bourdain calls food trucks “a very positive development as far as both the options that are now available to [consumers] and the options available to young, talented chefs. I think, generally, anything that’s bringing delicious, presumably affordable food to the masses is opposite to McDonald’s — this is surely a good thing.”
Learning to appreciate good food doesn’t always take health into account, however. Oklahoma is notorious for its dismal health rankings in national surveys. So what’s a local foodie to do when the waistline starts to expand?
Bourdain believes a healthy lifestyle starts with educating children about junk food.
“Terrify them — or demonize them away from exposure to these oversalted, oversugared [foods]. I don’t know that being a positive influence is necessarily the only way to go. I have no problem scaring the hell out of my daughter,” he said.
As a father, chef, writer and now comedian, Bourdain doesn’t have a lot of time when he’s on tour to cook a healthy meal or sample local food, but he does have some pre-show cravings.
“Local beer and Red Bull,” he said. “That’s it. I need to maintain a balance of beer buzz and caffeinated innovation. I don’t eat before I go out onstage. I’m too nervous.”