Anthony Bourdain Hates a Certain “Lion of Food Writing”


Anthony Bourdain has many a bone to pick in his latest blog post for No Reservations. First up, a justifiable critique of this year’s James Beard Awards theme:

This year’s James Beard Awards self congratulatory goat rodeo/awards ceremony/chef shakedown is built around the theme of “The Ultimate Melting Pot”. Presumably, this will mean that at the mammoth food tasting, in which chefs from all over the country are dragooned into providing bites of food from chafing dishes and hotplates (for free), there will be a “multi-cultural” theme. Perhaps there will be a heartwarming video tape presentation, celebrating our brothers and sisters from around the world — a Benneton commercial, depicting cooks of many lands. But I seriously doubt you will see an increase in the number of Mexicans present. Or any other of the nationalities who comprise the backbone, heart, lungs, blood and muscle of the hospitality industry this organization claims to celebrate. I won’t be there to find out.

Snap. But also a reasonable critique of what’s unquestionably a black-tie vanilla affair. Bourdain then goes on to root for Twitter icon Ruth Bourdain, because food writing has become a cheap business celebrating superficial crap. (Read the Voice, Tony!) But Bourdain’s real anger is directed toward a certain someone in the food world:

When one of the “lions” of the food writing business — and I am NOT talking about Alan Richman — has been famously and openly shaking down the subjects of his “reviews” for free food, drinks, vacations and other things of value for years with absolute impunity, it’s hard to imagine anyone “cheapening” anything about the business. When your gold standard behaves like a shady garbage contractor, and you are complicit in your silence, you can hardly complain.

Ooooh super-snap. A scathing critique, for sure, but also a fair one. Who could it be? But somehow you want to take Bourdain’s points a little less seriously when you get to the bottom of his blog:

I’m having a very good time — and with pre-production guidance from — and introductions by — chef Michael White of New York City’s MAREA, OSTERIA MORINI and AI FIORI, we are being well looked after.

So when a food writer gets perks it’s not OK, but when you’re a television show host being “well looked after” thanks to a friend’s introduction, it’s no problem? Being as journalistically ethical as possible should be the gold standard, but come on, Tony, be careful about practicing what you preach.