The Kitchen Confider on Life-Changing Moments, the Nature of Fame, Meeting His Heroes, and New Projects
NEW YORK, NY — Where do you begin when it comes to Anthony Bourdain? There are no shortage of options, but I’ll start here: As far as I’m concerned, with Kitchen Confidential (2000) he more or less created the interest in chefs’ lives and the inner workings of professional kitchens that gave rise to the audience (at least in the United States) for everything from books by authors such as Gabrielle Hamilton and newcomers like Michael Gibney to shows like The Mind of a Chef (which he narrates) to myriad other toque-focused entertainments, this blog included.
All of which is to say, I was delighted and humbled that Tony — whom I’ve met a few times over the years — graciously accepted my invitation to do a Toqueland interview. We connected on Tuesday, two days after the wonderful Lyon episode of Parts Unknown debuted, and one day before he took off for China to film an upcoming installment. He’s a busy man, who in addition to all of the above, oversees his own line of books under the Ecco imprint and is developing a food hall in New York City, among many other endeavors.
The interview took place over a leisurely lunch at The Breslin during which we covered a wide range of topics. He also casually gifted me some news about previously unannounced upcoming projects, featured in our dialogue, below.
I may run some other bits from our conversation next week, but for now, here’s the meat of it:
On How We Got to This Point
TOQUELAND: OK, so you write, you’ve got the show, you’re developing a food market, oversee your own line of books, among other things you’re involved with in some way or another. And this all started with a New Yorker article that grew into a book.
BOURDAIN: [laughs] Right.
TOQUELAND: When you think back to when things started to snowball, what was the tipping point when you really started to understand that your life was beginning to mutate into what it’s become?
BOURDAIN: About six months after Kitchen Confidential happened. I was on the best-seller list. I signed for the television series A Cook’s Tour. People were calling and offering me all sorts of wonderful things. But I was still very much working under the assumption that it was all bullshit and it would all vaporize and that I should keep my day job.
TOQUELAND: When you say “it’s all bullshit,” you mean you didn’t trust it? Or you thought people were full of it?…