June 14, 2010

An Evening with Anthony Bourdain

IMG_1871, originally uploaded by ajcarpinelli.
This post is going to be broken in to two parts: The first is my personal feelings and why I like Bourdain. The second is the first draft of what I am expecting to turn in to the Herald-Standard for my article. Keep in mind I have been writing since I got home from the show, and it is now kind of late and I edited a good bit of photos and some video. I’ll add the video later.
“An Evening With Anthony Bourdain” is completely unlike what you expect an author’s speaking tour to be, and that makes it what you want, and expect from Anthony Bourdain. On June 14, he brought it to Pittsburgh’s Heinz Hall.
What he talked about is better defined by what he didn’t talk about. Last week, his latest book “Medium Raw” was released. The title was not dropped once in the over two hours he was on stage. He was more interested in sharing stories from his travels as well as his thoughts and ideas on a wide variety of subjects. The easiest way to think of it is: part memoir, part stand-up comedy, and part informational. Some of the stories will be recognizable stories to his fans. Towards the beginning he told the story about Rachel Ray sending him a muffin basket. From a fan’s point of view though, seeing Bourdain on stage tell the stories is completely different then reading them or seeing it in an interview.
The wide variety of subjects Bourdain spoke about says something about the crowd he can draw. He appeals to chefs as a former chef, to people who love food, and to people who love to travel. Most people fall in to one of those three categories. He covered all these topics in great detail. He talked about everything from his thoughts on Food Network, various personalities in the food business (ones he likes as well as ones he doesn’t like), his personal life both in the past and present,. He even gave some tips on what people should keep in mind when traveling, both as far as food and cultural differences.
There is a fairly new topic that he loves to talk about: his family. As is the case with many parents, he is proud of his three-year-old daughter, and looks for reasons to talk about her. Even this is done with his style, bringing her in to stories with how we can topple the fast food establishments that are doing no one any good.
A major draw for a lot of people seemed to be a lengthy Question and Answer section, that made up about half of Bourdain’s stage time. This gives the audience a chance to get up and ask any question they want. Recently, Bourdain wrote a blog post about how he was annoyed with answering the same questions again and again from journalists, but you could not tell from the Q and A. He took the whole session with a laugh and a playful approach.

On a personal level, Anthony Bourdain appeals to me on all fronts, and I don’t think I would be the person I am today without seeing his show over the years. Here is just this guy. He worked 28 years in horrible conditions, wrote a successful book, and now he travels the world having fun on someone else’s dime. It is something I am sure we all have thought of at one point or another, but before him I didn’t think it could be real.
I may not always seem like it but I have always been quite happy and fortunate with my life. I admit it. I just have an excuse to times like this. I mean, I am 22 and have met both of my main heroes in life (Who by the way are fairly famous). In this case, I got in to the special book signing, bringing my total of signed Bourdain books to TWO, I got to talk to him on the phone, and met him. On top of that, I got special photography access (I didn’t see anyone else there with good camera gear) as well as an in to the closed, and very expensive meet and greet, for free. So yeah, I do pretty well for myself and I am just getting started.

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