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Jun 20, 201809:43 PM
Haute Plates

Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene

Anthony Bourdain

associated press

I recall a time a number of years ago when I thought maybe Anthony Bourdain had jumped the shark. His sarcastic approach to reportage began to wear a little thin for me, but I continued to watch his shows, and I changed my mind because I thought he’d never done better work than in the past couple of years. 

I’m like most people who follow the food and restaurant world: Bourdain’s book “Kitchen Confidential” struck me as being as important as Orwell’s “Down and Out in Paris and London” in terms of the impact it had on our culture. I’m not sure Bourdain’s book wasn’t a greater influence. Orwell was a better writer, but his memoir of his time as a scrub in Paris in the late ’20s is not the work for which he’ll be remembered.

Bourdain was a force perfectly suited to ride the wave of popular enthusiasm for food and cooking of the past two decades. He was a chef but not a “celebrity” chef. He had a reputation as a “bad boy” because he was up front about his history of drug use and because he wasn’t afraid to express an unpopular opinion in unfiltered language.

Bourdain’s work punctured the image of the chef as artiste, even while he recognized the artistry involved in some cases. He described his experience in professional kitchens viscerally, but he was able to discuss and explain intricate details of fine dining.

He was a brilliant writer and a keen observer. He was also a man who loved New Orleans. He understood us and yet still loved us. There was a time when I wondered whether he was in the minority.

I am very sorry for his family and friends and selfishly sorry that I won’t get to see what he was going to do next. Maybe I’d be angry, but I don’t have the right.

I gave my wife my copy of “Kitchen Confidential” the other night. I’m used to the fact that she hasn’t seen “Star Wars” or “The Godfather” or, until I insisted, “Casablanca.” But I was surprised she hadn’t read that book. If you also haven’t read it, I suggest you do and that you do so either immediately before or after reading “Down and Out in Paris and London.”

 

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Haute Plates

Our weekly blog on the New Orleans fine dining scene

about

Robert D. Peyton was born at Ochsner Hospital and, apart from four years in Tennessee for college and three years in Baton Rouge for law school, has lived in New Orleans his entire life. He is a strong believer in the importance of food to our local culture and in the importance of our local food culture, generally. He has practiced law since 1994, and began writing about food on his website, www.appetites.us, in 1999. He mainly wrote about partying that year, obviously.

In 2006, New Orleans Magazine named Appetites the best food blog in New Orleans. The choice was made relatively easy due to the fact that Appetites was, at the time, the only food blog in New Orleans.

He began writing the Restaurant Insider column for New Orleans Magazine in 2007 and has been published in St. Charles Avenue, Louisiana Life and New Orleans Homes and Lifestyles magazines. He is the only person he knows personally who has been interviewed in GQ magazine, albeit for calling Alan Richman a nasty name. He is not proud of that, incidentally. (Yes, he is.)

Robert’s maternal grandmother is responsible for his love of good food, and he has never since had fried chicken or homemade biscuits as good as hers. He developed his curiosity about restaurant cooking in part from the venerable PBS cooking show "Great Chefs" and has an extensive collection of cookbooks, many of which do not require coloring, and some of which have not been defaced.

Robert lives in Mid-City with his wife Eve and their three children, and is fond of receiving comments and emails. Please humor him.

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