Searching for Tony Bourdain

Foie gras taste on a Big Mac budget

The Rundown

Michonne’s been asking (read: harrassing) me to post since she’s been the only one to say anything so far. Apparently it’s boring. So here I am.

I read the Huffington Post regularly, and the Daily Meal’s 15 Most Followed Chefs on Twitter article was quite enjoyable, since I follow twelve of these celebrities. The reason I follow only twelve is that one of them just doesn’t really interest me (Michael Chiarello’s always been a little boring for my taste), and a couple others (Paula and Rachael) are not actually chefs.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines a chef as “a professional cook who has been trained by other professionals and who manages a kitchen and its staff.”

Rachael Ray was a discovery of Oprah. She was a demo cook at Marshall Fields when Oprah discovered her and asked her to guest on her show. She has no formal training. While I understand her draw (families, amateur/novice cooks), she has very little to offer or say on the state of American food. Her talk show’s last fifteen minutes are like a truncated version of her flagship show on Food Network, and her irritating energy is too much for people like me who love food and like to be entertained but would rather learn about food from a seasoned professional or somebody who’s been in the field for a while.

Paula Deen owns a restaurant in Savannah, Georgia. I love southern/soul food as much as anybody (fried chicken, cornbread, eggs benedict, and biscuits and gravy are some of my weaknesses), but she also has no formal training. Cooking for Paula was therapy after dealing with agoraphobia, and it led to her becoming a caterer and later the owner of two restaurants. Southern cooking is sturdy, heavy, and satisfying, but she is a media personality.

As for the other people on the list:

Jamie Oliver. English chef, tireless advocate of healthy cooking and whole foods lifestyle. Respect.

Tony: Do I need to reiterate our reasons for being here?

Tyler Florence: Chef, great cook, overall nice guy. Owns a hell of a restaurant in San Francisco.

Gordon Ramsay: We have as much respect and reverence for Gordon as we do for Tony. Tireless advocate for authenticity, quality, honesty, service, and cleanliness. Angry bastard when you offend his palate, because he has such a passion and love for good food.

Giada de Laurentiis: I love Italian food. Giada learned to cook at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris, and is a great ambassador of simple Mediterranean flavors. She’s also really easy to look at.

Bobby Flay: One of the world’s most well-known chefs and food personalities, and it shows. He has a dozen restaurants and all are huge successes. He is an authority on running a restaurant.

Guy Fieri: Obnoxious, overbearing, and irritating (he looks/acts like he was created by committee), but a good chef, restauranteur, and a man with great taste for authentic food.

Andrew Zimmern: An odd, eclectic chef with a taste for the weird, strange, esoteric, and unique. And he loves every second of it.

Emeril LaGasse: Michonne isn’t a fan, but I credit this man with perpetuating my love of good food. I have dined at NOLA and Delmonico, and the man is the best in the world at what he does. He left his spot on Food Network for greener pastures.

Rick Bayless: The Godfather of Mexican Food in America. His Chicago restaurant, Topolobampo, is a favorite of President Obama and won a Michelin star last year. We have both dined at Xoco (translates as “Little Sister” in Spanish). It is the best lunch I have ever eaten. His flagship, Frontera, almost always has a waiting list.

Tom Colicchio: The consummate professional, a staunch critic of bad food, and the most respected judge on Top Chef (aside from our namesake).

Rocco DiSpirito: A bit of a sellout but still a great chef and a great teacher.

A suggestion from my end:

Mario Batali (@mariobatali). The icon of Italian food on television, a chef who can still bring it despite being on camera for so long, and a huge proponent of purity and simplicity in cooking.

If it isn’t already apparent, I’m an unapologetic critic of inauthenticity and dishonesty in cooking and food. Don’t betray your DNA. If you wanna open a hot dog stand, open a hot dog stand. Don’t serve tacos and burgers and fish.

Food connects us to each other, and our heritage, and our culture. Don’t accept imitations, ever.

Adam (@findyourownroad)



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