October 14, 2009

David Chang & Anthony Bourdain - I Call Bullshit

So I know a ton has been written about the David Chang/Anthony Bourdain conversation at last weekend's New York Food and Wine Festival. I attended the talk and just wanted to throw my two cents out there.

First of all - the talk was really fun and the crowd was very energetic. A stark contrast to the earlier talk I attended with Ben Leventhal and Frank Bruni. More on that in a bit...

The Chang/Bourdain one started off with an acknowledgment that the two had started drinking hours earlier. To give you an idea of the atmosphere...about half way into the hour, Chang preceded to crack open yet another Heineken...

Anyhow, Bourdain is a fantastic host/conversationalist. He was EXACTLY how he is on TV. It was great. Definitely an R rated talk, he let loose on everything from why they are overhyped, to unleashing a tyranny against cupcake trucks.

My favorite line was "Why do people call me a bad boy chef? I am certainly not bad - I will be having a tea party with my 2 1/2 year old daughter tomorrow morning. I'm certainly not a boy. And I haven't cooked in a restaurant in 9 years."

At least he has some self perspective. Overall, I felt that both chefs showed a little bit of self-deprecating humor. Chang acknowledged that his meteoric rise in the NYC food scene was akin to him "cutting in line." And he did it on his own terms - not with some "rich mother-fker" as an investor.

Much of the talk centered around trying to dispel the myth that cooking is sexy. I think there was some definitely spite against the Food Network and all the television shows which glamorize the restaurant industry, and Chang and Bourdain were quick to note that "chefs are dirty and smell."

Onto the Q&A part. Here, Bourdain once again was lightening quick. And you could tell that he inspired fear in the audience. For the first couple of moments when he went into Q&A - there were no questions. Not a single hand in the air. I think I speak for everyone when I say we were scared. No one wanted to be made fun of.

And boy did he let you know if he thought your questions was stupid. Like the stupid question about krispy kreme cheeseburgers. Come on - even I thought that was ridiculous.

All in all - the major takeaways from the event were:
  • New York needs better Mexican food!
  • All the ethnic food is in Queens
  • David Chang thinks all the chefs in San Francisco serve is figs on a plate
  • Food trucks are good for the street food/ethnic food scene - EXCEPT for cupcake trucks. Okay, even I am over cupcakes....
  • Alice Waters is kind of crazy
  • Pork belly is the new tuna tartare
  • David Chang is overhyped and knows it
And finally - Go see anything where Anthony Bourdain is speaking!!!

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