Anthony Bourdain Pauses to Reflect on 2007, the Year That the Food World Tilted on Its Axis


As this miserable decade exhales its last, poisonous breaths, Anthony Bourdain has a few thoughts to share about what’s changed in the food world not over the last 10 years, but the last three.

In an Op-Ed he penned for the Times yesterday, the former chef turned cranky cottage industry pinpointed 2007 as the Year That Everything Changed in the food world, thanks in large part to TV: Top Chef hit it big, Gordon Ramsay went from chef to caricature on Hell’s Kitchen, the Food Network canceled shows like Molto Mario and Emeril Live in favor of programming that defined “celebrity chef” as “personality with a saute pan,” and television viewers began to demonstrate interest in shows that featured people cramming food in their mouths (such as Bourdain’s own vehicle, No Reservations) rather than actually cooking it. Also, bloggers began stealing the limelight away from print journalists like LA Weekly‘s Jonathan Gold, who that year won the first-ever Pulitzer for food writing.

But 2007 wasn’t all bad: that was the year when Ratoutille, a Pixar movie about a rodent chef, “got the details of the professional kitchen right for the first time in the history of cinema.” And more importantly, “chefs, as a social class somehow empowered by the strange and terrible glare of celebrity, were finally free to rid themselves of the time-honored dictum of ‘the customer is always right’ … Chefs were now trusted enough to persuade customers to try what they themselves loved to eat. Hence the hooves and snouts and oily little fishes that increasingly popped up on menus. This trend alone made up for the bad — a momentum that will, I hope, carry us through the tough times of the present.”

But will those chefs find enough contentment in pig parts and sardines to resist the lure of further Food Network-scripted hand jobs? The crystal ball is hazy. Stay tuned for the next decade to find out.

[Via Grub Street]

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