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Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations Seasons 1-5


Louisa Chu
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I thought the Iceland piece was goofy. But Bourdain was gracious throughout and a good guest. I liked seeing that.

I don't think he offended anybody. That's why I like him.

Goofy is good. It's nice to see a "travel" show that isn't just showing us the best of everything. He obviously didn't like everything he saw and did in Iceland. Personally, I'd love to go to iceland. I'd just like to do it in August and it wouldn't be about food.

I'm enjoying the series a great deal.

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The New Jersey show was definitely my favorite of the three shows so far. I must admit that I didn't instantly fall in love with this show from the beginning a la A Cook's Tour. This has been a much more sedate courtship experience for me. While tempted to post my impressions after the first show, I felt it best to wait until I had an opportunity to see more.

Tonight's installment was the funniest, best paced and interesting of the three. I mean, I'm always amazed at how much this skinny guy can put away. His multi-course, seafood extravaganza/eating marathon at that restaurant by the shore was vintage Bourdain, IMHO. And the one-liners had me laughing out loud. One of my favorite, and there were many, was his comment while hanging out with the great couple from Bobolink, who explained that sometimes the cows do what you want, and sometimes they don't. To paraphrase his response, he said that "..... it would just be unbearable for me to be outwitted by cattle." The woman who gave him a delicious crash course in Korean food was both delightful and informative. And well his scenes with Mario Batali were hilarious and self-depracating to the extreme!

This show is definitely growing on me. Can't wait for the Vietnam episode.

Inside me there is a thin woman screaming to get out, but I can usually keep the Bitch quiet: with CHOCOLATE!!!

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I think the Jersey show best captured a range from the sacred to the profane so far and thus seemed to offer redeeming value to those offended by the self indulgency. I thought the Howard Johhnson scene was exceptionally poignant. As someone who has eaten in HoJo's on main highways as a kid and remembers them as bustling places, this cavernous hall with a lone diner and what appeared to be a single employee working the grill and waiting tables was masterly. I have a suspicion that it was shot in off hours with the manager agreeing to cook the grilled cheese sandwich and serve it, but so what. It was poetry.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Loved the Jersey show, but driving a Mustang around Jersey??

Shoulda been a Camero, then Tony & Mario could have pretended to be I.R.O.C.'s (Italian Retards Out Crusing).

BTW, Tony - don't feel bad that people from da City look down on Jerseyites - they don't much care for Upstate natives like me, either.

"Leave the gun. Take the cannoli."

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But generally, I was pretty unimpressed. Vague, amorphous, random, too much focus on the cult of Bourdain, not enough on Iceland.  At this point I'm only watching because I liked Cook's Tour so much and I keep hoping for more bits like that.  If I didn't know Tony's work at all, I probably wouldn't tune in again after these first two episodes.

I agree. I'm a big Bourdain fan, but have found the show so far to be pretty uninteresting - it all seems far too staged. I had problems with a lot of the second season of A Cooks Tour, as it seemed to have to have far too many obviously scripted, "zany" sections. I always assumed that this stuff was forced on him by the Food Network and was hoping that this new show would be a lot more raw, focusing on the real excitement of travel. No such luck - so far, it's even worse then the last season of A Cook's Tour. It seems to lack any kind of spontaneity at all.

If other people enjoy it, great. It just seems a little bit bland and cheesy to me. Not two words I would thought I would ever associate with Bourdain. The scripted "humour" seems to be the main focus of the show, and, well, it just isn't that funny to me.

I often think of Bourdain as the Iggy Pop of the kitchen. If 'Kitchen Confidential' was his 'Raw Power', I guess this is his 'Blah Blah Blah'. I suppose everyone has to lose their edge eventually, and with a following as sycophantic as Bourdain's, I guess this was inevitable (why make a real effort to live up to past glories when your fans will treat anything you do as genius?) One less TV show to watch, I suppose....

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I often think of Bourdain as the Iggy Pop of the kitchen. If 'Kitchen Confidential' was his 'Raw Power', I guess this is his 'Blah Blah Blah'. I suppose everyone has to lose their edge eventually, and with a following as sycophantic as Bourdain's, I guess this was inevitable (why make a real effort to live up to past glories when your fans will treat anything you do as genius?) One less TV show to watch, I suppose....

I have no opinion on the man and will offer no opinion on the show - what I will offer an opinion on is expectations--.

There is a time in everyone’s life when they just do whatever it is that they do, they ARE what they live and there is no target to hit other than whatever your personal internal goal is – then you become known to the outside world – and whatever it is that causes this transformation becomes the fixation point for everyone – if you are a cold faced killer you can never be anything but that without going through a shedding process, in which you will be attacked from all sides. To give generally well known examples - like Arnold going from Terminator to Kindergarten cop or Metallica going from their old style to their new style. To give lesser known examples, like GVSB or Jawbox going from small indie bands to major label bands – sometimes you end up doing things that seem to contradict what brought you into existence in the first place and therefore end up looking like a hypocrite – and all those people that expect you to be a killer, when they see you being soft and sensitive, will cringe.

Then there are the Fugazis of the world, who grow and progress without ever really directly contradicting what it is that they stood for in the first place in any large way and then they die off being remembered for what they were. They never reach the point of transformation that is necessary in order to not become a stagnant repetition of a cycle.

What has to be accepted sometimes, especially in writing because it is a fixed point in time that endures centuries, is that these people are no longer what they are when it was written – maybe even at the time of writing what it is they wrote – they are looking back on something that they were – that they no longer are – or looking outward to something they would like to be but are never to become.

Unfortunately what happens sometimes, is that in order to meet the expectations set forth in the beginning, you end up creating a shell that is nothing more than an attempt to reproduce artificially something that once existed by default – and that will never be the same as the real thing. I suppose it is up to whomever it is to decide whether or not this is something they can live with.

Every person on this forum, including myself, is a sellout in some way shape or form. We all compromise what we would want or would do if we had it our way entirely and we all support the system that requires us to sell out – don’t mistake a compromise for someone actually WANTING things to be that way. Sometimes there are only 2 choices, make a deal – or have nothing.

Edited by sizzleteeth (log)

"At the gate, I said goodnight to the fortune teller... the carnival sign threw colored shadows on her face... but I could tell she was blushing." - B.McMahan

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Some people saw Eric Clapton as "god" others saw him as a fine guitarist.

Anthony Bourdain is a fine writer, TV personality, commentator etc.

In my life I read, watch TV etc for entertainment.

Mr Bourdain is amusing (sometimes outright funny) and his quirky, perspectives on things culinary and otherwise are entertaining and informative-- IMOP.

As long as he continues to be "entertaining" I will watch and read him.

It is amazing how many people "project" onto "celebrities."

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Every person on this forum, including myself, is a sellout in some way shape or form. We all compromise what we would want or would do if we had it our way entirely and we all support the system that requires us to sell out – don’t mistake a compromise  for someone actually WANTING things to be that way. Sometimes there are only 2 choices, make a deal – or have nothing.

It is amazing how many people "project" onto "celebrities."

While I don't want to dwell on this whole analysis of Bourdain's personality, as opposed to the show itself, I'm still a bit mystified by the point of view that he's selling out with "No Reservations". Selling "Kitchen Confidential" and watching it become a FOX show? Maybe you could make an argument for that. But "No Reservations" is Bourdain being himself. As I opined yesterday, perhaps that self is a bit of a construct from things he's read and seen over the years, but it's still him.

I'm still of two minds about the staged segments. On one hand, I think most of them are pretty entertaining. On the other hand, I think he and his producers are making a pretty big assumption that viewers will "get" the staging and be able to seperate out the "Info" from the "-tainment". Frankly... a lot of people aren't smart enough to do that.

But perhaps that's the best argument of all that Tony isn't selling out. He's assuming his audience has the ability to sort out the show. In other words, he's not playing to the least common denominator.

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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On the other hand, I think he and his producers are making a pretty big assumption that viewers will "get" the staging and be able to seperate out the "Info" from the "-tainment". Frankly... a lot of people aren't smart enough to do that.

One can be "smart" enough to "get" it and still think it's self indulgent and not that amusing. The show is better without them.

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On the other hand, I think he and his producers are making a pretty big assumption that viewers will "get" the staging and be able to seperate out the "Info" from the "-tainment".  Frankly... a lot of people aren't smart enough to do that. 

Finally, a reason to make a comment on this endless thread.

Jon, I think that's what I find appealing about this show, and probably Bourdain in general. The producers of this show, and certainly Bourdain, don't seem to be catering to the lowest common denominator. If you get it, I suspect that they are pleased that it is being enjoyed in the way that they are offering it, and if you don't get it, well, I imagine they are just as pleased.

It's cable, after all. It's a small audience show and if they reduce their audience by 25% because that percentage just doesn't like it, or doesn't get it, or both, I suspect that they feel like they are hitting their mark.

The other thing is this-I keep thinking that if someone gave me some money, a couple of folks with cameras and microphones, and then told me to go to the airport and bring back an hour's worth of amusement from some far flung locale that I would come up with something like this. Clearly the guy is pretty much doing what he wants to on these shows without much oversight from the Network. Now, there may be a huge difference in what he films and what gets on (I know for a fact that he filmed in a number of Jersey locales other than the ones that were shown), and that may have something to do with the network, but I believe that he is filming what he wants to film and more or less saying what he wants to say. I don't know who puts together the final piece, but I am guessing that it has more to do with Bourdain than the network.

Anyway, I like it. It beats 95% of the stuff on TV right now (because 6 Feet Under is a maudlin piece of crap this season and The Wire is a year away) and I'll watch it again-especially next week, as Viet Nam is on my short list of desired destinations (just behind Madagascar- Food is twenty times better in VN, but I mean, well, Madagascar looks like another planet).

It's not perfect, but it's pretty good. And, with time, could be great.

Incidentally, last night's reference tying together the killing of lobsters and the dismembering of Paris Hilton was pretty hysterical. The list of groups that he potentially angered in two minutes was pretty long.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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On the other hand, I think he and his producers are making a pretty big assumption that viewers will "get" the staging and be able to seperate out the "Info" from the "-tainment".  Frankly... a lot of people aren't smart enough to do that. 

Finally, a reason to make a comment on this endless thread.

Jon, I think that's what I find appealing about this show, and probably Bourdain in general. The producers of this show, and certainly Bourdain, don't seem to be catering to the lowest common denominator. If you get it, I suspect that they are pleased that it is being enjoyed in the way that they are offering it, and if you don't get it, well, I imagine they are just as pleased.

It's cable, after all. It's a small audience show and if they reduce their audience by 25% because that percentage just doesn't like it, or doesn't get it, or both, I suspect that they feel like they are hitting their mark.

The other thing is this-I keep thinking that if someone gave me some money, a couple of folks with cameras and microphones, and then told me to go to the airport and bring back an hour's worth of amusement from some far flung locale that I would come up with something like this. Clearly the guy is pretty much doing what he wants to on these shows without much oversight from the Network. Now, there may be a huge difference in what he films and what gets on (I know for a fact that he filmed in a number of Jersey locales other than the ones that were shown), and that may have something to do with the network, but I believe that he is filming what he wants to film and more or less saying what he wants to say. I don't know who puts together the final piece, but I am guessing that it has more to do with Bourdain than the network.

Anyway, I like it. It beats 95% of the stuff on TV right now (because 6 Feet Under is a maudlin piece of crap this season and The Wire is a year away) and I'll watch it again-especially next week, as Viet Nam is on my short list of desired destinations (just behind Madagascar- Food is twenty times better in VN, but I mean, well, Madagascar looks like another planet).

It's not perfect, but it's pretty good. And, with time, could be great.

Incidentally, last night's reference tying together the killing of lobsters and the dismembering of Paris Hilton was pretty hysterical. The list of groups that he potentially angered in two minutes was pretty long.

Bourdain and the show are absolutely a hoot, that's all there is to it for me. He's running down the road with the wheels-of-life a little bit out of alignment--but who cares? He's still getting there, and we who are willing are able to go along. That's what makes life great fun--looking at it a bit askew beats square-on almost all of the time, as far as I'm concerned. For me, square-on can be tiring at best, daunting at worst. I'm a firm believer in taking advantage of a chance to learn, to laugh, to lighten up, to see things differently. Since it's often said that my middle name is "Go," I'm right there.

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On the other hand, I think he and his producers are making a pretty big assumption that viewers will "get" the staging and be able to seperate out the "Info" from the "-tainment".  Frankly... a lot of people aren't smart enough to do that. 

Finally, a reason to make a comment on this endless thread.

Jon, I think that's what I find appealing about this show, and probably Bourdain in general. The producers of this show, and certainly Bourdain, don't seem to be catering to the lowest common denominator. If you get it, I suspect that they are pleased that it is being enjoyed in the way that they are offering it, and if you don't get it, well, I imagine they are just as pleased.

It's cable, after all. It's a small audience show and if they reduce their audience by 25% because that percentage just doesn't like it, or doesn't get it, or both, I suspect that they feel like they are hitting their mark.

The other thing is this-I keep thinking that if someone gave me some money, a couple of folks with cameras and microphones, and then told me to go to the airport and bring back an hour's worth of amusement from some far flung locale that I would come up with something like this. Clearly the guy is pretty much doing what he wants to on these shows without much oversight from the Network. Now, there may be a huge difference in what he films and what gets on (I know for a fact that he filmed in a number of Jersey locales other than the ones that were shown), and that may have something to do with the network, but I believe that he is filming what he wants to film and more or less saying what he wants to say. I don't know who puts together the final piece, but I am guessing that it has more to do with Bourdain than the network.

Anyway, I like it. It beats 95% of the stuff on TV right now (because 6 Feet Under is a maudlin piece of crap this season and The Wire is a year away) and I'll watch it again-especially next week, as Viet Nam is on my short list of desired destinations (just behind Madagascar- Food is twenty times better in VN, but I mean, well, Madagascar looks like another planet).

It's not perfect, but it's pretty good. And, with time, could be great.

Incidentally, last night's reference tying together the killing of lobsters and the dismembering of Paris Hilton was pretty hysterical. The list of groups that he potentially angered in two minutes was pretty long.

Bourdain and the show are absolutely a hoot, that's all there is to it for me. He's running down the road with the wheels-of-life a little bit out of alignment--but who cares? He's still getting there, and we who are willing are able to go along. That's what makes life great fun--looking at it a bit askew beats square-on almost all of the time, as far as I'm concerned. For me, square-on can be tiring at best, daunting at worst. I'm a firm believer in taking advantage of a chance to learn, to laugh, to lighten up, to see things differently. Since it's often said that my middle name is "Go," I'm right there.

Oh, I forgot. As a librarian (for real), I absolutely loved it when he called his mother to wish her a "Happy Birthday" from Satin Dolls and told her he was at the library. My 29-year-old son just told me that if he ever said he was at the library that I should know the truth of the matter from now on, thanks to Bourdain.

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I know I bugged Bourdain often enough about releasing an uncensored version of Cook's Tour on DVD, I hope he considers this possibility for No Reservations down the road...

=Mark

Give a man a fish, he eats for a Day.

Teach a man to fish, he eats for Life.

Teach a man to sell fish, he eats Steak

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i'm sat here in the uk, and i guess i'm one of only a few people to have seen no reservations over here, and much as it pains me i have to say i'm disapointed. let me say here how much of a bourdin fan i am, i love the man, i've never read anything like cooks tour, kitchen confidential or typhoid mary, but the bourdin magic gets lost somewhere on screen.

after watching 5 minutes of the first episode of cooks tour, my girlfriend turned to me and said 'he really is the coolest man in the world isn't he' and jealous as i was i had to agree!

but all the 'zany' (as described by an earlier poster) sequences and 'arty' (for an american film school graduate) shots really detract from whats happening. i so far have only seen the first episode, and loved the piece about the original les halles, and the meal tony eat, but the absinthe sequence started off embarrasingly staged, and ended like a high school project.

i'm currently downloading the second show (as far as i know thats the only way to watch it in the uk) and i hope we see less whacky shots, and more bourdin

tony, you know you're being stifled by these shows, come to britain and make a show with me at the BBC, we'll both do well out of it!

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...just finished downloading and watching the Iceland episode while catching a buzz (maybe that helps)....very amusing. This is not National Geographic, people! Sorry to be yet another sycophant, but I thoroughly enjoyed it...

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I can't believe you've never had Soon Doo Boo and Kalbi Tang before Tony, and you're from Jersey, I suppose you must have gotten out before the Korean invasion? Disagree on screen Korean saying that her particularities about her food will keep them pure however, YOU WILL BE ASSIMILATED, it doesn't have to be bad for anyone involved, you or I(egg), but YOU WILL BE ASSIMILATED. The show was the best so far, then France, then Iceland. All awesome to the nth degree.

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I can't believe you've never had Soon Doo Boo and Kalbi Tang before Tony, and you're from Jersey, I suppose you must have gotten out before the Korean invasion?  Disagree on screen Korean saying that her particularities about her food will keep them pure however, YOU WILL BE ASSIMILATED, it doesn't have to be bad for anyone involved, you or I(egg), but YOU WILL BE ASSIMILATED.  The show was the best so far, then France, then Iceland.  All awesome to the nth degree.

Oh no-o-o-o-o-o coquus I hope you're wrong and that the onscreen Korean sistah was right! :smile: As someone who knows next to nothing about Korean food, I have to say that everything they were eating looked so sumptuous and made me want to learn so much more. Who was she, BTW? I really admire her optimism and cultural pride. Your critique of the shows shown so far--New Jersey #1, France #2, and Iceland #3--match mine exactly. I don't know what your reasons are but would be very interested to know. I'm still mulling over my reasons pro and con for my opinions on shows #2 and #3 as well.

I will admit that A Cook's Tour/Bourdain has made me more open to giving this show some time to develop. I hope that the Travel Channel will allow this show to grow and find its audience.

And as far as the SYSCOSIFICATION/MCWHATEVER/BORG assimilation of Korean cuisine in the USA, remember that in the end (a la Star Trek) RESISTANCE WAS NOT FUTILE. :cool:

Edited because my Trekkie lingo was a little off.

Edited by divalasvegas (log)

Inside me there is a thin woman screaming to get out, but I can usually keep the Bitch quiet: with CHOCOLATE!!!

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I'm a native New Jerseyan (that's what they called them when I grew up), and this last show brought back all kinds of memories. My grandmother used to take us to Asbury Park in the summer to ride the carousel and eat salt water taffy and get fried clams at Howard Johnson. Even run down, I recognized a lot of the places. The only problem was trying to explain it all to my husband.

Marcia.

who desperately wants cannoli now.

Don't forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he wanted...he lived happily ever after. -- Willy Wonka

eGullet foodblog

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After seeing three shows now, I like the new series. To me, it has the feeling of Bourdain inviting one along to do some local fun stuff, some stupid stuff ("Oh, c'mon, it might be fun -- even if it isn't, we can still snark it up"), and maybe even some instructive stuff. In other words, not a bad day-long vacation by video proxy.

The Paris episode was a great side-opener, as they used to say in the recording industry. The slightly orangey, mostly nighttime videography created a mood I liked. (And thank goodness they didn't choose the jaundice tint favored by Sandra Lee.) Towards the end, I swore I could smell all that bread and that boulanger might just be my dream job. In fact, it might just be: I found myself peering closely, trying in vain to see what kind of lame he was using to slash those loaves, and was compelled to make a few baguettes a day later. Bourdain and crew must owe me something for making me slobber so during much of episode 1. And more for making me think, "Ah, fromager...that's the life for me" last night.

Iceland, I can take or leave, but at least I learned that even calling it requin décomposé and charging twenty-five bucks a lump would not and could not improve the anti-umami of putrefied shark. (May I add here that I am just shocked?) To paraphrase the durian segment in "A Cook's Tour": Mmm...tastes exactly as bad as it smells.

Two points regarding the New Jersey show:

1. Those didn't look like fried clams to me, certainly nothing like the ones I must revisit soon at J.T. Farnham's in Essex, Mass. Strips, maybe, but the waitress actually said, "Here are your fried oysters." Was it a slightly sloppy edit or a fear of big squirty clam bellies at work here? If the latter, it would be surprising given the sensibilities of the host, but good: More for me.

2. I've always thought of Paris Hilton as a stick insect, so the stupid bug analogy really worked for me. It is, of course, a dreadful insult to all lobsters to compare her to a lobster in any fashion. For shame. However, I do agree that [drawing and] quartering her would just be plain wrong and I wouldn't even think of saying that someone should do it soon.

Dammit, now I have to make some lobster stew.

Mike Harney

Mike Harney

"If you're afraid of your food, you're probably not digesting it right because your stomach is all crunched up in fear. So you'll end up not being well."

- Julia Child

"There's no reason to say I'm narrow-minded. Just do it my way and you will have no problem at all."

- KSC Pad Leader Guenter Wendt

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I adore the show on many levels-as a traveler, a foodie and a Bourdain fan. I like the pithy comments, off beat venues and pranks. Interestingly, the Travel Channel was soliciting viewer comments/opinions regarding the program. I forgot the toll free number. I was surprised there was not a web address. Hope the reviews are favorable to justify more seasons. Call in today!

What disease did cured ham actually have?

Megan sandwich: White bread, Miracle Whip and Italian submarine dressing. {Megan is 4 y.o.}

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I adore the show on many levels-as a traveler, a foodie and a Bourdain fan.  I like the pithy comments, off beat venues  and pranks.  Interestingly, the Travel Channel was soliciting viewer comments/opinions  regarding the program.  I forgot the toll free number.  I was surprised there was not a web address.  Hope the reviews are favorable to justify more seasons.  Call in today!

Here's the number from the Travel Channel's blog about the show as posted at http://community.discovery.com/groupee/for...rm/f/6811975208

"Everyone's got an opinion ... we want yours. Tell us what you think of Tony's show! Call 1-888-896-TONY (8669) and give us a mouthful."

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