Anthony Bourdain reveals why he's never brought his show to T.O.

WHEN ANTHONY BOURDAIN wrote Kitchen Confidential, a brash behind-the-scenes look at the restaurant business, warts and all, it changed everything.

Suddenly, chefs were the centre of the universe, and Bourdain was their cooler-than-thou king. That was 10 years ago, and although things are not what they once were, Bourdain has since become a TV phenom travelling the world in search of culinary adventure on his hit show No Reservations. He is in town for a Massey Hall appearance on Sept. 22 in support of his new book Medium Raw.

You’ve featured Montreal and Vancouver on your TV show but not Toronto. What’s up with that?

Honestly, I’ve travelled through Toronto and met some chefs there, and they were joking about Toronto! They talk sh*t about you in Montreal, talk sh*t in Vancouver — Canadians themselves, your countrymen. Nobody has grabbed me by the shirt and said, “Dude, you have to go here, it is really awesome, and here’s why. I could still do it, but I need a compelling case, a personal situation that is a way into a show. It is character driven, not food driven.

What about Susur Lee? He opened up a spot in your hometown, New York City. Thoughts?

I had a great meal at his restaurant in Toronto, just terrific. But he’s having a hard time in New York. He’s getting the sh*t kicked out of him in New York, just brutal. Mind you, he’s not the first very talented chef from elsewhere that’s had his ass handed to him. But judging from my meal in T.O., he deserves a hell of a lot better.

What will people be surprised to learn about your new life in the book?

I don’t know, that I’m a doting father of a three-year-old who is the centre of my world, and that I spend much of my free time watching children’s television and playing Barbie.

Do you have any interest in getting back into a restaurant kitchen and cooking?

I’m 54, I’d be delusional if I thought I could serve any useful purpose in a working kitchen. If you’re over 37 and working the line, you’re a grandpa in kitchen terms — you’re getting no better, faster or smarter; your knees are gone; your back is gone. It’s a young person’s game.

What do you miss about it?

I miss the camaraderie, the sense of certainty, of absolute measurable accomplishment. At the end of the shift, you know exactly how well you did, and you go home absolutely certain of your worth. You feel like a titan.


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