The Good vs. Evil tour at an earlier tour stop. Photo courtesy of Tellem Grody PR.
Anthony Bourdain, one of the most fawned over cooking personalities in America, made a stop in San Jose on Saturday with Eric Ripert for a fawning crowd at the Center for Performing Arts.
Billed as the “Good vs. Evil Tour,” for more than two hours Ripert and Bourdain shared their thoughts on food, cooking and the restaurant industry, first under the premise of an interrogation and later as two bros sitting in easy chairs talking shop over a couple of cold ones.
The pace dragged at times, but overall the formula worked, and it’s doubtful anyone at the nearly sold-out downtown venue left feeling cheated out of the $45 or $75 spent on their ticket.
The term “rock star chef” gets thrown around a lot these days and if there is a template, Bourdain fits the part. His onstage banter is laced with expletives, there’s a stint with drug addiction on his resume (“LSD changed my perspective, I think in a positive way”) and he’s achieved a level of adoration—from soccer moms to tattooed and pierced kitchen workers—unseen on the celebrity chef scene. He has a full-page ad in the latest issue of Rolling Stone. It’s a big deal when he comes to town.
Bourdain has made a career out lampooning other celebrity chefs in his books and TV shows, and it didn’t take long for the duo to get into it on Saturday night. A few minutes into his mock interrogation, Ripert, co-owner of acclaimed New York French eatery Le Bernardin, called out Gordon Ramsay for being “shameless,” “racist” and “totally unacceptable” for his comments on the TV show Hell’s Kitchen.
Moments later, Bourdain dropped one of the first of many laugh-out-loud moments of the night, taking aim at Santa Rosa restaurateur Guy Fieri: “He looks like Ed Hardy Fucked a Juggalo” and “He’s like 50! He’s still dressing like that, with the fucking flames?” Paula Dean was also on the cutting board (“I’m nauseated by her”) but Bourdain repented for years of bashing Rachel Ray, saying she won him over by admitting she’s a New York Dolls fan and telling a blue joke involving Mario Batali, a blow job and scrunchie at a celebrity roast.
In a somewhat surprising turn, Bourdain also took some heat from Ripert, who called Bourdain a sell out for going against everything he wrote in Kitchen Confidential by being a judge on ABC show The Taste.
The rest of the show jumped around a variety of topics including New York vs. San Francisco (New York for fine dining, SF for mid-priced restaurants), California’s ban on foie gras (“It’s the biggest bullshit issue ever”), vegetarians (“Most of the world is already vegetarian, and they’re not to happy about it.”) and boneless chicken wings (“a sin against god”).
The one South Bay reference of the night was a shout out to Manresa chef David Kinch, who Ripert would choose as one of three chefs to be stuck with on a deserted island.
The show closed with a confusing bit where Ripert asked Bourdain to do a blind-taste test to guess if he was served white wine or red wine, but the misstep was quickly amended when a perplexed Ripert was asked to describe Cheetos and Funyuns while blindfolded.