But I can't help but wonder whether he's getting a little overexposed and, as a result, when the backlash will begin in earnest. I know he's promoting the new season of No Reservations right now, but I've read a whole bunch of interviews with him lately. This, plus the Food Network rerun of A Cook's Tour, makes me think that there might just be a little too much Tony out there for some more finicky and whiny viewers.
(I'm also on a general backlash watch these days, after reading something, I think on Pajiba, about how the Internet encourages backlash to begin before trends, or stars, really even get going. It seems true.)
Anyway, when I ran across this Onion AV Club interview this morning, I thought: somebody's got to be complaining about his constant presence. I was right - a couple of commenters were all "He's so obnoxious. Go away." Case in point:
(by commenter wammer)
His show just rings false to me. His tone never seems to be "look what you could do if you ever travel here," but more "look what I'm doing and you could if you weren't such a work-a-day square."
And one made a predictable and (to me) pretentiously annoying argument about No Reservations being so colonial...look at us, trying the "ethnic" foods, etc. etc. I have no patience for that, but I'm not surprised that it's out there.
What I was surprised about, though, was that there wasn't more complaining. Overall, out of almost 400 comments, I'd say about 90% of them ranged from mildly positive to glowing and worshipful. I think this maybe sums it up:
(by commenter pepto)
I want to hate this guy, based purely on the hype surrounding his Cult of Personality, but I am finding it difficult.
Even wammer, the negative commenter quoted above, changed his mind and decided to give Bourdain another chance based on other commenters' arguments. When does that happen?
I'm not looking for a backlash, but I am kind of wondering when it's going to happen. I'm pleasantly surprised by Bourdain's ability to sustain popularity.
Anyway. It's a solid interview, and I pulled a few quotes I liked, some of which are pretty consistent with his usual messages, and some of which were drawn out by the interviewer:
When asked about his first oyster experience - the one he talks about in Kitchen Confidential - and how things would be different for him if he hadn't enjoyed the oyster:
Yeah, who knows. That's a really good question. I'm not sure how fundamentally that would have changed me, whether it would have turned me away from food later.
On his least favorite celeb chefs, Ray Ray and Sandra Lee:
Maybe when I'm harsh on Rachael Ray and Sandra Lee, it's because I think they compare poorly to Julia Child, who I really thought was an advocate for the forces of good and enlightenment.
On physical decline:
I think, technically, male palates start to decline very early anyway, around 27 or 28. That's what God made salt for.
On the role of the celebrity chef and the recent quick evolution of the public palate:
Now, for the very first time, a chef like Mario Batali or David Chang can sit around, have a couple of cocktails, and decide what the next hot menu item is going to be. "Next year, it's gonna be pork bellies or pig tails." And more often than not, they're right. They can make that happen because people trust them and are interested in what they think is good.
On current trends:
As "food nerdism" reaches ever more extreme heights, people are looking for the "most authentic" at least as often as they look for the best.
Overall, really great reading. I'd skip the comments, though, unless you've got all day.