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Everything posted by bourdain

  1. Looks like you know...not much. I receive exactly zero compensation--from Bravo, from Michelob, from anyone--not one dollar, not "any thing of value" --for blogging Top Chef. I'm a fanboy and occasional participant on the show (certainly not for the money--cause they pay shit). I like the show. I like watching the show. I like hanging out with Tom and Ted and assorted chef cronies and tasting food.And I enjoy dishing about the show on line . Period. And I don't drink Michelob. Cause it tastes like crap. You can quote me. Aww shit. Look what you did. You made me post here.
  2. See latest AP story with quote from Panter.
  3. Fully in agreement with FG's post but to assume that "D'Artagnan would take a big hit but surely survive" is a leap of faith. Why would or should they take a big hit? And just how big a hit would that be? Let's be clear here--and stress something that a lot of posters seem to be missing: The entire D'Artagnan business model--though "only" 30% foie products--is based around--or principally emanates from-- a duck breed which was raised specifically for foie. The whole DUCK, ultimately--not the liver--is under threat. It's like asking Kentucky Fried Chicken to continue to do business without chicken. (Hey--you can still make money on the soft drinks!)Costs associated with moving facilities, severance pay, training of new employees, hiring , conforming to new licensing requirements--likely higher rents, transportation and so on might well be prohibitive. Particularly in the current environment. Let us remember that Hudson Valley Foie Gras in NY and Sonoma in Cali. are ALSO dealing with serious challenges. Should the NJ law be allowed to pass, prospects for any long term home in another state would be something of a gamble. Few in the artisanal foie production business--speaking privately--will express much confidence that it will be business as usual in ten years. Should the bad guys win in NJ, and with prospects as gloomy as they are (and a NJ ban would surely make those prospects gloomier)--many, if not most businessmen could scarcely be blamed for simply deciding to fold up their tent and go home. Personally? Faced with relocation in these difficult times? I'd say "Fuck it. You can all go back to those skinny, grey, frozen Long Island ducks of old. Buy your freaking foie in a can--imported. And sorry about all those squabs and pheasants and that Scottish game and nice morels and white asparagus and fresh truffles and other goodies we've been getting you all these years--nobody works here anymore." Unreasonable, hysterical, worst-case scenario? Maybe. Maybe not. They're already talking about taking your biscuits away in NYC. The "where does it all end?" question is weighing very heavily on the minds of people like D'Artagnan. Beyond asking "where" can one relocate these days , one must also ask "for how long?" How things go in NJ might well be the canary in the mine shaft.
  4. If they are the premier supplier for many items french, european, hard-to-get and all parts duck as you say above, they will perhaps not go out of business, no?They just need to charge a bit more for the other duck parts, to make up the lost foie revenue. Any idea what % of the company's profit is due to foie sales, vs all the other products together? ← Foie gras and foie gras related products constitute, they have said, 30% of their income stream. THIRTY PERCENT. That's an impossible gap to make up for with mark-up. More importantly, the duck breasts, legs, bones, gizzards, pates, sausages, terrines and fat etc--which we chefs have all come to know and rely on--and which you have come to expect as constituting the restaurant standard--are a direct by-product of that same specially bred duck. No foie? No nice breast. No foie? No good duck sauces etc. No foie? No D'Artagnan. End of story.
  5. Having messed around with market research a bit, I'm surprised the question, as phrased, didn't generate a 99% response in favor of banning foie gras. There is nothing impartial about this poll. My guess is it was financed by Farm Sanctuary or a similar organization. Shame on Zogby for lending its name to it. I'm sure that is the case. And I want only the best for D'Artagnan and their employees and families. They have fed me quite nicely on occasion, other than some buckshot I once bit into. But even though New Jersey once banned sunnyside up eggs for a short period of time until shouted down by the populace, I'm hoping and pretty sure this is just a politician trying to make his bones. ← You put a lot of faith in the voting public. My point is that if not made forcefully aware of the consequences--to fine dining, to the dining scene as a whole, to New Jersey's good name, to a great company and good woman--and to 120 taxpaying Jersey based employees--this law could well pass. As it did in no less a place as Chicago.
  6. http://www.nofoiegras.org/FGzogby.htm
  7. I refer you to a recent Zogby poll on foie gras. And I can assure you the people involved are taking it VERY seriously. That would include 120 D'Artagnan employees and their families....
  8. According to impeccable sources, I am led to believe that Assemblyman Michael Panter, freshman (and vegetarian) from New Jersey will next week introduce a bill making production and SALE of foie gras in that state a crime. A bill to prohibit production has already been put forward--but what would THIS legislation mean--if passed? It would mean that D'Artagnan, the premier supplier of foie gras and foie-gras related products for New York tri state area restaurants and retail would be forced to go out of business or move elsewhere. In addition to no more foie that means no more magret duck breasts, duck bones, confit, charcuterie, or myriad other fancy food items from that essential source. Understand that the burgeoning New York restaurant fine dining scene GREW UP around Ariane Daguin's company. That she has--since the company's inception-- been a premier supplier of all things French, European, and hard to get for chefs--and not just foie!. New York menus reflected and continue to a great extent to reflect what she could import or create for her passionately devoted and grateful clientele of virtually every name chef in the North East. As well, she has provided, guidance, support, networking and help of every kind to chefs both French and otherwise--in short: she is a personality as central and integral to the whole landscape of professional gastronomy as Julia Child was to home cooks in her day. As well, the entire Franco/American subculture in New York revolves around her and around D'Artagnan products. To do think of the New York restaurant scene without her--or her company is to contemplate the apocalypse. It is absolutely unbelievable that opportunistic politicians would attempt to bring shame and ridicule on their state, cripple the dining standards of New York City, remove a crucial primary color from every chef's palate so as to beat up on the easy target of a small, independently owned and operated company, built up over time through the hard work of an extraordinary woman. Meanwhile not DARING to tackle the far more destructive (to human AND animals) battery chicken issue--our country's voracious appetite for crispy fried chicken From Any Source Necessary. Why try picking on the Colonel on principal when there's a small business you can ruin for a few votes? This is not a question of whether or not the production of foie gras is "cruel" or "crueler" than other processes involving food production. About lurid videos, gag reflexes or lack of. That has been explored elsewhere--and more authoritatively. This is a question of the dining public's right to choose. This is about a vital figure central to all our lives--we who claim to love food and fine dining-- and her ability to stay in business. This is about big goverment and a few lunatic fringe attempting to crush the little guy. With every likelyhood of succeeding. It's the final barricade, the last redoubt. If the invaders breach this line than dining as we know it will surely change beyond recognition. As a longtime Jersey boy, I am ashamed and embarrassed for my state--particularly as I recently made a show which --over-optimistically perhaps, portrayed it as a place poised to become a serious food destination. This atrocity--if passed--could be the beginning of the end. The Final Victory of the Rubes and Extremists. New Jersey, New York chefs, and the dining public deserve better. PLEASE write the criminally misguided assemblyman and make your opinions heard. The end could well be near.
  9. I'm very aware of how flip my response to the Post was (made last Wednesday, very early in the crisis)as I sought to reassure family and friends that we were safe and okayand in good cheer. . It was--at the time--very representative of the (outward) attitude of Beirutis themselves, who pride themselves on their resilience and their determination to "keep the party going." Initially, many Beirutis were still going strong at nightclubs as jets flew low and menacingly overhead. Even that proud, famously world-weary attitude quickly changed, however, as circumstances here became even more appalling. I can certainly understand how offensive it might be to those on the ground here--or those with family and friends here--to read some of what's been posted on the other NR thread--and understand why it's been closed for now. It is indeed heartbreaking and horrifying what has happened to this lovely country--to spanking new, lovingly restored,resurgent Beirut in particular, in only a few days of sustained and seemingly senseless destruction. A few days ago, this was a place where people were bursting with pride for the relative tolerance, progressive attitudes, and lack of conflict between groups. I was standing with a group: a Sunni, a Christian, and a Shiite--by the Hariri memorial when the gunfire started and the Hezbollah people appeared driving through city center and honking their horns in "celebration" for the capture/kidnappings. The look of dismay and embarrasment on all three faces...and the grim look of resignation as they all-- instantly-- recognized what would inevitably come next...it's something I will never forget. Of the three, our Shiite security guy, a tall, taciturn man, was the last to leave us, insisiting on staying by our side though he and his family lived in the much more perilous Southern part of Beirut. After witnessing many quick telephone exchanges between him and his family, and as more bombs and shells began to fall, seeing him nervously fingering his prayer beads, we finally convinced him to leave. His house was later flattened..We were soon relocated to a safer part of town.The sense of regret and ...shame we feel at being relatively safe yet witness to the carnage...and that we never got to show the world how beautiful this country and its people are--how much "like us" (yet uniquely and wonderfully not), how international, muti-lingual, multi-faith..how fantastic the food and hospitality is...will gnaw at us forever. WE will make it home. WE--unlike most Lebanese, have been (relatively) safe and secure during this. Trapped, yes--but trapped by a freaking swimming pool-not under the rubble of our homes. We may be only a few thousand yards or a few miles from the falling bombs-but we have an eventual way out. What hasn't been talked about much in the press, is how many young returnees there are/were here: young, educated Lebanese who'd emigrated abroad or been born aboad and only recenly returned..how filled with hope they were, how much they loved their country, how hopeful and enthusiastic they were that they could make a difference (and they WERE making a difference). That is all ashes now.. We (the NR crew) are indeed well--and well looked after. It's indeed frightening here, it's enraging, it's horrifying,and its frustrating..the classic "long hours of boredom interspersed with moments of terror" phenom they always use when talking about life during wartime. But we are relatively safe. And sooner or later we will no doubt be heading home. We will never forget the Beirut that could have been-and will hopefully be again. Or what we saw here. I fully hope and expect that the administrators/mods will allow this post--and immediately close it to further comment. The crew and I greatly appreciate all the previous comments and expressions of concern here and thank you all.
  10. Way it's looking now--there ain't gonna be a show.
  11. The Israelis just bombed the airport...so it look like we won't be going anywhere soon... Thanks for the good wishes..
  12. There is no book. For accomanying prose see chapter in Nasty Bits on my time with Ferran at El Bulli. It covers much the same ground as the DVD. In other news, we are currently shooting an episode of NR in Lebanon--and it should be video gold. Those kookie-krazy kids from Hezbollah were popping off their weapons today(shooting in the air, I gather)--and Israel has been bombing and mobilizing a division in the South with reported land and sea strikes... (See today's news--and quotes from Israeli PM). While the party continues in Beirut--there's a lot of concern that the Israelis will follow up with strikes on infrastructure (like the power grid). And we were due to head to the Bekka Valley tomorrow. BTW..this town is Party Central!
  13. Had a very fine offal-centric meal at San Francisco's INCANTO a while back. The shaved tripe salad and a truly superb lamb neck still linger in the mind. Chef Chris Cosentino is a full-on disciple of the Gospel of Guts and soon to be (with the release of his book) a leader/teacher. I highly recommend any and all who've not been to go--immediately.
  14. Yeah. The one thing I regret about the episode. Unfortunately, I often do voice over in an isolated studio after looking at a rough cut (in which I'd seen myself drinking Corona)--subsequent (and multiple ) drinks and beers included the Shiner seen on camera. For the record: Shiner Bock. 100% TEXAN beer! And apologies.
  15. Very, very proud of the Border episode--and taking a lot of shit for it. We shot the thing a few months ago--before the full xenophobic furor--and I couldn't be happier about the timing. I had long planned a show where we meet the chef at Les Halles--and the cooks--and then relate that back to the whole Mexico/US relationship--as it exists on the ground and near the border. It was very striking and encouraging to see how many Texans speak fluent Spanish and consider the people a few feet across the river to be neighbors, relatives, friends...I found a very different attitude locally than is prevalent among blowhard politicos who live nowhere NEAR Mexico. I'd really planned to do nothing more than explore the "Who's actually doing the cooking" thing--something of a personal cause for me--and look at another side of Texas and Texans than the stereotypical one--and was surprised at the blowback from some really angry angry people... I also wanted to learn how to ride a big motorcycle and hang out in the locations where they shot El Mariachi. Sweet.
  16. I have found that ANY scene purporting to show the "Birthplace of the.." ANYTHING is a guaranteed clusterfuck. That the plaque on the wall and various sources claim that particular joint as the originator is besides the point. The words "Hilton" and "my show" shall never meet--unless I'm making a cruel joke about the brain-dead daughter. I don't care HOW good the product might be. The above principle is further proven on the coming soon Mexican border show--where a "Birthplace of The Nacho" scene is rescued only by a cameraman accidentally splitting his skull open to dramatic and picturesque effect. Recent studies indicate that any drink with an umbrella in it may cause penile shrinkage.
  17. bourdain

    Del Posto

    For what it's worth. I haven't eaten there yet. But I'll quote a 3-starred (Michelin) chef pal--not inclined to like Batali--who DID eat there recently. "It was a four star meal. No question." (Referring to NYT stars). I was frankly gobsmacked--considering the source. Like I said. I haven't eaten there. And the idea of a Grand Luxe, ocean liner, grand hotel Italian joint from the Batali/Bastianich group struck me as kooky and audacious as well. But before we talk about being butt-slammed at Rikers, maybe actually eating there WOULD be a good idea? Lest we slide quickly into SchramblingLand? Pass the Astro Glide, papi.
  18. A SIGN OF THE COMING APOCALYPSE America's Second City compliantly embraces new identity as boobish backwater. New York surely to follow. The deliberate dumbing down continues. Charlie Trotter can sleep tight tonite, comfortable in the knowledge that any geese or ducks with distented livers will soon be diverted elsewhere (though he continues to serve their other parts)--and that we are now one step further down the road to losing a beloved staple of classic cuisine that has been with us since Roman times. Trotter's influence cannot be understated--whatever his motivation or original intent. He provided cover and support for the worst elements of the anti-food/anti-pleasure police. Respect and deepest regrets to Rick Tramonto who courageously--and at great personal cost--fought the good fight (in spite of some pathetically juvenile public groin shots from Milhouse). To those fine Chicago chefs like Grant, Homer, Paul et al, who will soon have to cook with one hand tied behind their backs--my sympathy. The rest of us shall no doubt soon be joining you . An additional note: For yet another chilling glimpse of the future--and a sensible, well written retort, see today's New York Times editorial by the wise and wonderful Gabrielle Hamilton. Those miserable fuckwits don't want us eating butter-poached lobster--or moist, flavorful poulet roti either.
  19. Though always dismayed when people are disappointed by a particular episode, one of the things I'm proudest of about NO RESERVATIONS is that each week differs in mood, tone (and to whatever extent possible) content--as well as degree of "success" or "failure" in capturing a place or a culture. It's a show with noticable--often violent-- mood swings, practically schizophrenic at times. There are numerous examples of places or countries that I clearly--no matter how deserving the subject--I just didn't "get" or do justice to. The end result of a shooting period in say..Iceland--is entirely dependent on a number of factors, both entirely subjective (Was I in a good mood? Was I tired? Was I cranky? Did I just not connect on a personal level with the people I met during my limited time in country?Did I bring some prejudice or off-camera peronal business to the experience?) to external (Was our fixer not so dynamic? Was the weather bad? Were we just not lucky? Did the reindeer not cooperate? Did we plan poorly?). End of the day, all we hope and try to do is make the best possible show with what we "got" on the road. In our case--"best possible" means most reflective of MY subjective (if admittedly limited) experience--good or bad. It would surely be easier and often more palatable--and even interesting--had we lied--meaning cobbled together a lot of B-Roll of food close-ups, splice in plenty of beauty shots of pretty vistas, monuments etc. and added a gushing voice over extolling the delights of the subject country, complete with a well-researched litany of historical facts. There's plenty to be said for that kind of approach. It's safer, certainly fairer to the country--and more reliably "interesting" to the majority. It's also what everybody else does--and what I DON'T and WON'T do. I'd rather have people tune in saying "Mann..last week in Peru was so great..What the hell happened with Sweden?" than have viewers feel they know in advance what to expect. Fact is--I fall in love with some countries and gush about them. Ditto the camera people. Some countries are "shot rich" environments--where everywhere you look there's beautiful B-Roll, gorgeous, interesting, outgoing people and characters. Other places? Not. When I wax philosophic in a heartfelt way about say..Borneo..or China..or Japan..or Peru or Quebec or India, I'd like to be believed. If I pretend that I felt the same way about my (however inadaquate or unrepresentative) experience in say..Iceland..or Sweden, it devalues the whole enterprise. So all I can say is "stay tuned". There are happy shows...sentimental shows, miserable shows, snarky shows..shows where I loved the country but still feel (and will always feel) I missed the boat. (Sicily for instance--which I loved but where everything seemed to go wrong). I'm NEVER looking to present a representative slice of an entire culture or country in a scant 42 minutes of television. The show--at its best--can ultimatelyonly hope to be about me, me, me and what happened to me--and how I felt about things. I couldn't/wouldn't do it any other way. I leave that to the professionals. Coming soon: Puerto Rico..The Tex Mex border..2 India Shows..Korea..and Indonesia..
  20. Point of minor arcane interest: While I did not, unfortunately, get to shoot Chris, I DID in fact save our Lavu. The fucking fire went out and the little gas heater malfunctioned, spewing carbon monoxide and smoke--but no heat. I woke up in a way below zero freezing tent, nearly numb--and by using my lighter and igniting my production schedule and some local currency as kindling--was able to restart a wood fire. Chris, Jerry and Todd, of course, were perfectly content to doze and fart their way into semi-conscious hypothermia..
  21. Worst piece of shit EVER. STILL-years later, I squirm with shame when I think about that show. They interviewed me (an innoccuous enough event) then intercut the footage with a lot of bogus-looking, stagey stuff shot "surreptitiously" at various fast food/crap diner type establishments. Can't believe they're running it again after all these years. Bumped into the producer a while back (he has since moved on to much better work) and he apologized profusely. Think it was made in 2000.
  22. I sat and watched an entire episode, absolutely riveted by its mesmerizing awfulness. A loud, toxic, ineptly conceived pastiche of half-baked concepts and contrived melodrama. One bad idea after another, layered like some surreal Hawaiian Lasagna recipe: The never-watchable Alan Thicke. Two words that absolutely guarantee nothing good to come. A bunch of D-List celebrity fucktards. Who ARE these people? A confused looking Wolfgang Puck? You don't have enough money to have SOMEBODY on staff with brains enough to tell you not to do this?! Screen Actor's Guild member and "celebrity chef" ,Cat Cora. Who I increasingly am coming to believe would cheerfully hump a fire hydrant in order to get on TV. Her performance brought to mind an earlier NBC masterwork--the vastly underrated Lancelot Link, Chimp Detective. An addled Gael Greene--still under the mistaken impression that somebody somewhere still gives a fuck WHAT she thinks--and that we want to imagine her crushed under late-era Elvis' bloated abdomen. Ending a once glorious career in grotesque fashion. Some douche bag with some kinda speech impediment. WHO is he? A ritalin-jacked audience, no doubt dragooned off a mall and lubricated with Red Bull and Jolt Cola. (They were TOLD Clay Aiken might appear). Horrifying. Can't wait to watch it again.
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