Anthony Michael Bourdain burst onto the culinary culture scene with a bang with his 2000 New York Times bestseller Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly and he’s been a staple in the hearts and minds of amateur chefs ever since.
Never one to bite his tongue, he quickly parlayed his celebrity status into a food & world-travel television series A Cooks Tour and from then on, he’s been a cultural staple commenting on everything from the comestible like Korean fried chicken, to the hard to digest, like #MeToo.
His silver tongue has been known to prick more than just the food industry enthusiast and insider. From fellow food aficionados to bleeding heart liberals, all the way through to talking heads on political television, Bourdain does not eat his words; he is outspoken, upfront and unafraid to let those he thinks are in the wrong, feel the burn. Up next we’ve got a list of the Top Ten Times Anthony Bourdain Insulted a Celebrity.
10. Ina Garten
Ina Rosenberg Garten started her career at the White House Office of Management and Budget, but having friends like Eli Zabar and Martha Stewart helped her radically change directions.
In 1978, an ad in the local paper advertising a 400 square foot specialty food store changed her life. She quit her government job and bought the place. What followed was a series of successes from store expansion to book sales, to appearances on Martha Stewart’s television show, all of which culminated into her very own Food Network series Barefoot Contessa.
When asked about his Food Network compatriot Mr. Bourdain told interviewers she was very bizarre, he’s quoted as saying, “I don’t want to stay at her house. I think her friends are creepy. I don’t want to spend a weekend there, it gets weird in Ina Land.” And when he was asked to describe the writing method behind his second book Appetites: A Cook Book he said, “I morphed into a psychotic, anally retentive, bad-tempered Ina Garten.” We here at BT aren’t quite sure what that means, but it can’t be a good thing.
In the end, Borden and Garten eventually buried the hatchet. When asked by Refinery 29 what he thought of the author and host, he said, “I’ll make a little fun of her now and then, it’s very perfect in Ina World, scarily so,” he said, but “what she cooks on TV is legit and instructive. If you do as Ina does, chances are you are going to get a good product…I got real respect for her.”
He told Atlanta magazine: “When Ina Garten roasts a chicken, she roasts it correct. When Ina Garten makes mashed potatoes, those are some solid mashed potatoes,”. He is quoted as saying she is one of the only people on the food network who can actually cook. Though this statement doesn’t say much for the Food Network, it is the highest of compliments coming from the harshest of critics. The relationship between Ina Garten and Michael Bourdain may have gotten off to a rocky start, but it would seem the two have made amends and will develop good relations in the future…
9. Adam Richman
Between 2008 and 2012, the Travel Channel’s Man vs Food was a ratings juggernaut that turned a then little-known actor and author by the name of Adam Richman into a minor celebrity. The concept was basic, Richman discovers the local foods in different cities across America, all while visiting local landmarks, and to top it off, he’d enter some kind of food competition where he’d compete to eat the most “whatever” in as little time as possible.
His celebrity status soon got him in the cross-hairs of Anthony Bourdain who made minced meat of Richman and Man vs Food, in his stand-up routine. “Why did we watch the show? Admit it, you wanted him to die.” Harsh words right? Well, Bourdain was unafraid to up the ante. He then claims the show is popular in Afghanistan, Yemen, Lybia and Iran, stating, “The show confirms their worst suspicions — that Americans are fat, lazy, slothful [and] wasteful.” And imagining a goat herder in Afghanistan: “I know what he’s thinking, ‘America is a terrible place. I want to join ISIS.” “Tomorrow, I bomb it”
Richman tried to take it all in stride though, he claimed in an interview with OBSERVER.COM that, “Tony is actually a friend of mine and I talked to him about it. I was like ‘You threw me under the bus.’ I understand the need for a good line but I hope that his want of a good friend is greater than that, and he made it clear that it was.”
There is as of yet no actual association between Richman and ISIS and no evidence he was ever in the organization and even though rumors of a purported Isis attending Richman’s high school still abound, there is no evidence he was “in” her either.
8. The Food Network
Though The Food Network is arguably what introduced the wider world to Bourdain, Anthony has, in the years since the debut of his first hit television series A Cook’s Tour, shown signs of having very little love for the brand and its members.
Bourdain claims that in 2007, the network took a “ calculated break with the idea of the celebrity chef as a seasoned professional and a move toward an entirely new definition: a personality with a sauté pan.”
Bourdain was not through panning the network for it’s lack of substance and pandering to celebrity culture, in fact, that was just the beginning. He defines the network as a programming outrage and defines its modern lineup as a sad and pandering example of rehashed leftovers, “the humiliating, painful-to-watch Food Network Awards, the clumsily rigged-looking Next Food Network Star, the cheesily cheap-jack production values of Next Iron Chef America — every obviously, half-assed knock-off they slapped on the air would go on to ring up sky-high ratings and an ever-larger audience of cherished males twenty-two to thirty-six (or whatever that prime car-buying demographic is).”
It would seem Bourdain is just as disappointed in a network that would choose to invest in these retreads as he is in a world that would elevate such malarkey to a successful status. He’s said, “The eye-searing ‘Kwanzaa Cake’ clip on YouTube, of Sandra Lee doing things with store-bought angel food cake, canned frosting, and corn nuts, instead of being simply the unintentionally hilarious viral video it should be, makes me mad for all humanity. I. Just. Can’t. Help. It.”
And just to make it clear that the Network puts no value in its own representation, Bourdain had this to say about the Food Network Awards: “The production itself — above and beyond the witless, ill-considered, just-plain stupid ‘concept’ of an Awards show where most of the awards’ went to inanimate objects (accepting the award for Best Comfort Food is … Macaroni and Cheese!!), appliances or cities (Portland’s mayor wisely did not bother to show), — the production values — were lower than whale shit.”
And that dear friends, is how you burn, a food network.
7. Alice Waters
Alice Waters is a chef, activist and author who’s hard work is helping to bring the United States towards a healthy, fresh, non-industrial, and self-sustained, small-scale vision of food and farming. Her stance against the fast-food nation and cooky cutter tv-dinners has been commended by the likes of the Obama’s and her attempts, which began in 1996, at reforming American lunches in schools across the nation, along with her battle against the USDA’s corpocratic squelching of all things healthy, in service of private bottom lines are on-going to this day.
Her accomplishments are myriad and her influence on America is evidenced in our relationship with food to this very day, so it came as a bit of a disappointment to many fans when Michael Bourdain decided to take the public cleaver to her in stating: “Alice Waters annoys the living sh*t out of me. We’re all in the middle of a recession, like we’re all going to start buying expensive organic food and running to the green market. There’s something very Khmer Rouge about Alice Waters that has become unrealistic … I’m suspicious of orthodoxy, the kind of orthodoxy when it comes to what you put in your mouth.” It was a disappointment, but it was no surprise.
Now whether it was the sense of an ensuing public backlash, or actual remorse from having pointed his critical finger in an undeserving direction Bourdain did try to explain a little further in what many consider the closest thing to a backpedal we’re likely to ever see from him: “I don’t have any burning issue with Alice Waters, a restaurateur and visionary whose accomplishments clearly dwarf my own. In a perfect, candy-colored world, I’d like to eat most of what she’d like to see us eat. I feed my daughter mostly organic food whenever possible—and greatly admire what Dan Barber is doing. My comments were a heartfelt reaction to her wildly hubristic letter to the (then) president-elect, a document whose tone, timing and content I found distasteful—particularly coming from someone who hadn’t even bothered to vote in the four previous elections. (…) Chez Panisse was inarguably a cradle of the food revolution. I respect Alice Waters’ enormous contribution to changing the way we eat and cook today. No one can take that away from her. No one should try.
But fear not Bourdain purists, because if that felt a bit too close to an apology, he offered a follow-up comment to wash down the taste of such a glowing elegy: She says some stupid shit sometimes—and she is certainly free to call “bullshit” on me when I do the same.
So there you have it. Kind words, with a soupcon of bite…
6. Wolfgang Puck
Wolfgang Puck has been present in the hearts and minds of Hollywood, the glitterati and their legions of followers since the early 1980’s. One could argue that as a spiritual descendant of Julia Child, who first put cooking on the minds of every house in America, Puck is the man most responsible for ushering in the modern era of the celebrity chef. In fact, some might say he’s the “original” celebrity chef. Bourdain, however, though a child of history, is more known for being a stubborn child, than a reverent one.
Bourdain told Playboy magazine: “Listen, I’m not eating in his shitty pizza restaurants. I think it’s bullshit, and it breaks my heart to see him on QVC or whatever, but the fact is he paid his dues. He’s an important guy. It’s an Orson Welles thing: He made Citizen Kane, so it doesn’t matter what he does after that.”
Upon hearing this Puck replied: “But, does he have a successful restaurant?”
And there you have it, two masters in their respective fields, observing each other from a distance with respect, while both disappointed in the others ultimate accomplishments.
5. Guy Fieri
We all know Guy Fieri as a loudmouth, frosted tip, All-American badass, with a round belly, loud clothes and a goatee, it’s therefore of no shock to anybody that a guy like Guy might rub Anthony Bourdain the wrong way. In 2015 Bourdain said “I sort of feel in a heartfelt way for Guy,” he said. “I wonder about him. He’s 52 years old and still rolling around in the flame outfit…What does he do? How does Guy Fieri de-douche?” But it’s apparently all Love from Bourdain’s perspective, “I have no hate in my heart for the guy. He doesn’t make me angry. He’s just low-hanging fruit. He’s a rich and deep source of comedy.” If one squints a little, with words like deep and rich, this could almost be seen as a compliment.
When Fieri opened his American Kitchen and Bar in Time’s restaurant Bourdain told interviewers “he single-handedly turned the neighborhood into the Ed Hardy district which I’m a little pissed off about.” The two have yet to host a Food Network awards show together.
4. The Left (Especially Bill Maher)
Having elevated his status from that of a chef to that of a public persona, Bourdain’s disdain occasionally reaches far beyond the realm of sustenance and it’s connoisseurs. When Trump was elected he blamed the very people he considers his peers. He once told Reason: The utter contempt with which privileged Eastern liberals such as myself discuss red-state, gun- country, working-class America as ridiculous and morons and rubes is largely responsible for the upswell of rage and contempt and desire to pull down the temple that we’re seeing now,” He then singled out Bill Maher as “the worst of the smug, self-congratulatory left,” He’s a classic example of the smirking, contemptuous, privileged guy who lives in a bubble,” “And he is in no way looking to reach outside, or even look outside, of that bubble, in an empathetic way.” adding: “preaching to the converted, (…) doesn’t change anyone’s opinions. It only solidifies them, and makes things worse for all of us,”
Say what you want about Bourdain, one thing is for sure, the man knows how to tend an olive branch, and that’s with a twist.
3. Paula Deen
The feud between Anthony Bourdain and Paula Deen is now legendary and extremely well known. Many pinpoint it’s beginning to the time Michael Bourdain told TV Guide that “She revels in unholy connections with evil corporations and she’s proud of the fact that her food is … bad for you. … Plus, her food sucks.” He’s once called her “the worst, most dangerous person to America,” and he’s even gone as far as saying she was “proud of the fact that her food is f—ing bad for you.”
After Deen revealed she had type 2 diabetes, Bourdain took to Twitter to say, “Thinking of getting into the leg-breaking business, so I can profitably sell crutches later.” Bourdain claims Deen’s brand is “excess without guilt” and for her to “turn around and roll out a $500 diabetes treatment” after basically endorsing a lifestyle that would worsen these peoples’ conditions is “in excruciatingly bad taste, it’s unconscionable, cynical, and greedy… 30 million dollars a year, how much money do you need?”
To this day, these two have yet to send each other birthday cards.
2. Alec Baldwin
Feeling confident in his position as a cultural announcer and spokesperson of modern thought, Bourdain even let fellow leftist artist Alec Baldwin get a taste of his patented brand zing. When asked what advice he would give Alec Baldwin about his stance on the “#MeToo” told the Daily Beast, he would tell the famed actor to “Just Shut up” he later tweeted Baldwin saying “You really are too dumb to pour piss out of a boot” and accused Baldwin further saying he was either a “complete moron or providing cover for your pals and saving your own rep. Maybe all three.”
Considering it was Baldwin’s silence after hearing allegations of Weinstein’s sexual misconduct with Charmed star Rose McGowan, it is this author’s opinion that perhaps people shutting up, is what lead to this mess in the first place. After all, it was the little known Reverend Charles F. Aked who once said, “For evil men to accomplish their purpose, it is only necessary that good men do nothing,”
Speaking of which, let’s get to the number one.
1. Donald Trump
When asked by the brilliant minds behind TMZ what Bourdain would serve if he was catering a summit between Trump and Kim Jong Un Bourdain answered, “Hemlock” which is a poison once used as an execution method.
As host of a food and travel show Bourdain has seen a lot of countries, and as a local New Yorker, he’s seen a lot of Trump and his opinion of the commander in chief is informed by these two divergent sides of himself, he feels that to Trump “Nobody that isn’t male, white and wealthy counts. We’re just hearing what he thinks. But it’s the astonishing lack of curiosity, the astonishing laziness. I have to travel this world where everybody is laughing at us. It’s one thing to be hated, it’s another thing to be feared, but to be ridiculed, everywhere, and treated as pathetic?”
But the insults don’t stop there, “He has no interest in talking to anybody, he talks about himself and that is the only subject which is of any interest to him. It’s a level of discourse so sub-moronic that it was unthinkable at any other point in my life. You know he hasn’t eaten at a single restaurant in Washington DC other than at a steakhouse in his own hotel since he took the Presidency? Just what he eats is already damning.”
He’s told interviewers, “I find him personally objectionable.” In case you were wondering if these opinions are simply made up to fit a leftist agenda, here’s what Bourdain had to say, “I’m a New Yorker, Donald Trump is a New Yorker. And the New Yorkers I know, we’ve lived with this guy for 30 years. I’ve seen Donald Trump say things one day, and then I saw what he did the next. I’ve seen up close how he does business. Just like if you lived in a small town, you’d get to know the sheriff, the guy who runs the hardware store, the guy who runs the filling station — Trump comes from that era of guys you followed, guys you knew about every day: Trump, Giuliani, Al Sharpton, Curtis Sliwa. I’d see him at Studio 54, for fuck’s sake. I’m not saying I know the guy personally, not like I’d hug him, but I’m saying that as a New Yorker, we pretty much are neighbors. And my many years of living in his orbit have not left me with a favorable impression, let’s put it that way. There are so many reasons to find the guy troubling. When Scott Baio’s the only guy you can find to show up at your convention, you’re in trouble.
And in another interview he finished that thought perfectly, “he eats his steak well done. I think that really settles it.”
This author notes that a well-done steak with a side of ketchup is his favorite meal. Case closed.