The walls of the Fabulous Fox Theatre echoed with more f-bombs than a high school locker room on Saturday when Anthony Bourdain came to town for his nationwide standup tour, Close to the Bone. Bourdain first rose to television fame when he took viewers into home kitchens and restaurants across the world in No Reservations on the Travel Channel. He later moved over to CNN in 2013 with Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, which took him to war-torn Libya and to Iran.
As Bourdain outlined in the press release announcing the tour, “I want to open the book on what I’ve learned seeking the road untraveled—more than I get to show you on television.” Not quite. The hour-and-a-half show was more like an opportunity for him to rip on a cast of characters and culinary trends well known to an audience hip to the latest season of Top Chef and the current contestants on The Next Food Network Star. Guy Fieri, Ina Garten, vegans, the tiresome phrase “farm to table,” the gluten-free diet—the drink-slinging, shade-throwing chef had words about them all as he paced the stage (otherwise empty except for a stool and bar-height table) wearing jeans and a long sleeve t-shirt.
My favorite riff was on Adam Richman, who traveled the country from 2008 to 2012 as host of Man vs. Food, gobbling down 11-pound pizzas and four pounds of pancakes. “Why did we watch that show? Admit it. You wanted him to die.” Bourdain added that during his travels, he noticed that the show was popular in countries like Yemen, Iran, Libya, and Afghanistan. “The show confirms their worst suspicions—that Americans are fat, lazy, slothful, [and] wasteful.” Bourdain then imagined a poor goat herder in the mountains of Afghanistan sitting in front of an old television after a long, hard days work and watching Richman choking on more animal protein than the farmer’s family would ever see in years. “I know what he’s thinking, ‘America is a terrible place. I want to join ISIS.’”
Toward the end of the show, Bourdain took questions from the audience. Last meal on earth? Sukiyabashi Jiro (featured in Jiro Dreams of Sushi). Any advice if you’re going to Madagascar? Bring Spam. One person asked which Atlanta restaurants he liked. Bourdain played coy, saying that he hasn’t kept up with Atlanta’s growing culinary scene and didn’t want to single anybody out. In the same breath he quipped, “That burger at Holeman and Finch is pretty awesome.”
Some other memorable moments:
On Alton Brown
[My daughter’s] hero is Alton Brown . . . Most of the time when there’s a chef on TV, she’ll ask me, “Daddy, do you know them?” I’ll say, “Yes, I do know them.” So she asked, “Daddy, do you know Alton Brown?” At this point, I’ve had enough. I’m like, “Yes, let me tell you about the time Daddy took Alton Brown to the Clermont Lounge.”
On Guy Fieri and becoming a dad
The minute that you become a father, certain truths become immediately obvious to you. The first second you see your daughter’s head corkscrew out of the womb and open her eyes, they are pretty much saying “Lose the Ramones shirt.” . . . So I’ve made some adjustments in my life. So I sort of feel in a heartfelt way for Guy [Fieri]. 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?
On being married
My wife is . . . a purple belt in Brazilian jujitsu. This really doesn’t describe the level of ferocity we’re working with . . . She spends most of her time outside of the traditional jujitsu community in a despised subculture within jujitsu of what are called leg walkers and knee reapers. Knee-reaping does not sound good. My wife’s specialty—what she does seven hours a day, seven days a week—is learning how to roll into your legs and do things to your knees that will prevent you from ever dancing salsa again . . . This is why I don’t train with her, and it’s sure as shit why I don’t cheat on her.
On Ina Garten
I love Ina Garten. She’s one of the few people on Food Network who can actually cook. When Ina Garten roasts a chicken, she roasts it correct. When Ina Garten makes mashed potatoes, those are some solid mashed potatoes. In many ways I want Ina’s life. I don’t want to live in her house. I don’t want to spend a weekend there. It gets weird in Ina Land . . . Oh, when Jeffrey gets home, he’ll be so happy I made meatloaf. And then he comes home and you’re pretty sure he’s not into meatloaf.