Anthony Bourdain has one of the best jobs in the world. Since the success of his culinary tell-all Kitchen Confidential, he has become a roving food reporter. His Travel Channel show Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations keeps him on the go 10 months every year, traveling the world to explore fine cooking, indigenous cuisines and some exotic eats. He speaks at the Mahalia Jackson Theater Thursday night. After the jump, answers to questions not in this weeks preview.
When walking into a restaurant, what tips you off to what kind of a meal you are in for?
You can pick up an indicator from whether the staff looks happy and proud to be there. If they are projecting confidence. Or is the chef sitting at the bar talking to the bartender and picking his nose. Seeing focus is good.
But some of the best meals I have ever had have come in places that had the filthiest bathrooms.
What do you think of restaurants that push water service, or selections of pricey bottled water?
Oh my god, has it really come to this?
What about the craft cocktail movement?
I feel like an old fart; I like a glass of scotch. But theres something to it. Its like people who complain about electric guitars.
What do you think about chefs borrowing dishes from cuisines theyre not familiar with, like chefs who like sushi and want to put raw fish on a plate?
I can understand it. In every chefs career there is a period of youthful exuberance. Its a forgivable thing. And some people are really good at it; they really understand the cuisines they are borrowing from. Jean-Georges Vongerichten really knows his stuff.
Whats the hardest part of running a kitchen?
The physical punishment. It really grinds you down, mind and body. But the hardest part is having to fire people. I never liked that.
How did you feel about customers? Were you there to please them or did you want them to let you cook your way?
I long ago got over the sense of blind rage at customers who wanted me to murder food for them. But chefs are professionals. You dont want patients to tell the doctor how to do brain surgery.
In your travels, have you ever turned down anything people wanted you to try?
Have you ever wished you had?
There definitely were some woodland creatures that if I had a chance to order, I would have said, Ill have the chicken.