Les Halles

Today, I braved the inclement weather with my good friend Michelle, and we once again went to see another “celebrity chef” over at Sur La Table in Santana Row.

The reason I enclose those words in quotation marks is because the fellow we went to see today, I don’t think he likes to be referred to as a celebrity… or at least, he really does not act like one.

I speak of one Anthony Bourdain. I became a fan of Tony Bourdain a few years ago after reading his book Kitchen Confidential, which is a great, gritty and real look into the culinary world (highly recommended, would do business with again, A++++). I had been eyeing the book for a while, when, seemingly reading my mind, my good friend Toni sent it to me as a gift. I was delighted when he landed his own show on Food Network, entitled A Cook’s Tour. The premise of this show was following Tony around the world, searching out eclectic local foods. It was an awesome fusion of travel and food programming that made a seemingly perfect television show (to me, at least)… honest and compelling, unlike what the networks seem to call “Reality Television” these days. It was refreshing to see a show like this.

Bourdain also published a book based on the show, naturally of the same name, recounting his experiences of travelling the world over a period of two years in search of the perfect meal. I think I do like the book a bit more than the show, for the reasons of the book being a more personal account of his experiences. Plus, he’s a damn fine writer. I haven’t read his string of fiction novels, but I am certainly compelled to pick one up.

So yes, back to today’s events.

Today was a special day because we actually got to see Tony cook. Yes, you heard (read?) me right. It’s kind of a rare thing to see him cook. As Alton Brown said in a Q&A earlier this year, when asked if he was given the keys to Food Network, “I’d produce more documentaries and specials and I’d make Tony Bourdain actually cook something on television, by force if necessary.”

This was also an excuse for me to pick up a copy of Bourdain’s new cookbook, Les Halles Cookbook, to learn a bit more about French cooking (it’s not as fancy as it seems, as a matter of fact, it’s simple and down to earth) and of course, to get his name scribbled in sharpie inside. I have not been to the restaurant of the same name that he is executive chef at, but I would love to. The closest I think I got to real French food was at Mon Ami Gabi, located at Paris Las Vegas (which, according to Kevin, who lived in France for a spell, was pretty authentic).

Oh yeah, here’s the obligatory posed photo:
Courtney, Michelle & Tony Bourdain

During his cooking demo, Bourdain expressed his strong opinions on american foods (Kraft Singles are NOT cheese), other celebrity chefs (“He needs more than a catchphrase. He used to be a good cook.”) and the state of food-oriented television programming (he’s sad about the shape it has taken, very plain vanilla).

Curiously (okay, not really, based on his opinions), Food Network isn’t rotating A Cook’s Tour in their schedule as of late. We were informed today that he is supposedly going to continue his culinary adventures on the Travel Channel come next month! Yay!

Man, this sounded like one big promotional piece. But it isn’t, I swear! I guess it shows how enthusiastic I am for Bourdain and his work. I thanked him today for “Keeping it real”. Celebrity chefs needs someone like him amongst them to keep it real these days.

That all said, I’mma makin’ us some Boeuf Bourguignon tomorrow.

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0 thoughts on “Les Halles”

  1. You’ve got to tell me more on what he said about “other celebrity chefs” and the “state of food-oriented television programming”! I’m always in for some Food Network gossip.

    Oh, and thanks for that AB Q&A link… didn’t know about that. Quite enlightening!

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