Last Wednesday evening, I dragged Tristan to Good vs. Evil at the Belk Theater in uptown Charlotte for an entertaining evening with Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert.
It turned out to be a surprisingly intimate evening with the two chefs.
I was REALLY EXCITED about this show… as I have been a fan of Bourdain for years and years. I’ve read all of his culinary/travel books, the most recent being Medium Raw ; and am crazy about his show, No Reservations … Travel, drinking, swearing and great food? Seriously, what’s not to love? As for Ripert, I knew substantially less about him, other than what I’d seen on Top Chef and in relationship to his friendship with Bourdain. After this though, Le Bernardin is definitely on my must list for our next trip to NYC. (We’ll have to save up though – even to just do lunch! $$$).
First off, they took turns interrogating each other in the hot seat. (The hot seat consisting of the rather crap folding chair they claimed felt as if it was going to collapse at any moment).
Bourdain was the first one out, he introduced Ripert and then proceeded to grill him on his culinary background, Le Bernardin and his dislike for fellow chef Gordon Ramsey. (Apparently Ripert, a Buddhist, thinks Ramsey is a meanie. He is not wrong).
Then it was Bourdain’s turn in the hot-seat, where Ripert grilled him (mostly) on his slightly salacious past. It didn’t take long for the f-bombs to start flying. Which I admit to loving about Bourdain.
After the interrogations, they sat down together, Bourdain with a beer and Ripert with a Diet Coke (his choice of beverage surprised me). They mused about the current culinary “it’” movement of Farm to Table. They both have very strong opinions and aren’t afraid to express them. It felt more like we were eavesdropping on two good friends having a conversation, rather than speaking in front of an audience.
With an audience of food obsessives (and the person they dragged along with them!), this was a love fest. Most of us got the references they spoke of, and ‘celebrity chef’ slams.
Bourdain talked about how cooking should be a necessary skill that is taught to every child… along the lines of potty-training, learning to tie your shoe laces, riding a bike, etc. “Everyone should know how to chop a fucking onion” he said – to which I agree wholeheartedly.
Bourdain slammed Sandra Lee (to many cheers!) and Guy Fieri . He spoke about his current “riff” with Paula Deen – and how she is the most dangerous woman in America. True, true. Cheeseburger meatloaf with a stick of buttah, anyone?
They touched on the topic of sustainable seafood (yet another reason I want an iPhone, for the Monterey Bay Aquarium app while dining out!)… Ripert advocated it, while Bourdain said he would eat the last Bluefin Tuna in the ocean if he could. Both commented that they had signed some sort of agreement to never eat shark fins. (Rightly so, the practice of harvesting the fins sounds horrific). They discussed cheap food, fast food and the nastiness that is the McRib. They also spoke up for foie gras… apparently it is being done “correctly” here in the US, by the three farms that produce it.
Towards the end of the show there was a brief Q &A segment. Which was, I’m not going to lie, quite awkward. It didn’t help that the first guy up was clearly hammered, kissing ass, and talking nonsense. Bourdain eventually told him to “fuck off” and called on someone else. (It needed to happen). It was disorganized, and could have used ushers manning the mic stations (or something like that) because well, yeah, awkward.
But all in all – it was a fantastically fun evening. I think it even inspired Tristan to want to learn how to cook, a wee bit. Which is music to my ears.