“What does a chef talk about for two hours?” Do you know how many people asked me that the week before I saw Tony Bourdain speak?
“Chef?” They didn’t get it. Tony Bourdain is not what I define exclusively as a “chef.” Yes, he pulled his years of blood, sweat and tears in the kitchen. But one must see his shows, read his books, to understand Tony. This wasn’t a Food Network star cooking up a few things in a wok. This was TONY FREAKING BOURDAIN!
Before the show began, the audience was buzzing with excitement, fueled by the rock music piping out of the concert hall speakers. On the stage was a single podium, which he rarely stood behind during his walks back and forth across the floor. When Tony finally came in, pictures flashed while the audience jumped up and screamed. This was going to be good.
Norfolk is a huge Navy town. Tony began by thanking the Navy for getting him out of Beirut. That went over very well. We are also a base for PETA. While Tony explained his similarities to PETA, including his distaste for animal testing and cruelty, he also had plenty to say about the beauty of eating meat. Add several snarky vegetarian comments peppered with the mouth of a sailor and you’ve got an audience bursting with laughter.
So, what does Tony Bourdain do for two hours? There are no slides. There are no props. It is simply him, walking back and forth across the stage telling stories, discussing food, travel and his great desire to torch the Olive Garden. He had the audience in the palm of his hand, with everyone on the edge of their seats.
I learned many new bad words during the show. Not so much the words, but the phrases he threw them in to. This guy can spin a decadent vulgar phrase more brilliant than Paula Dean’s teeth.
Things I learned? Don’t dredge your sushi in a vat of soy sauce in front of the chef, and be sure to compliment him on the rice rather than the fish. This may get you some of the prized pieces rather than the plain old Americanized fare. And if your date eats the Uni? Well, let’s just say you will be sure to score later, and BIG.
Despite the hysterical off-color stories, the cynical digs and the bawdy humor, Tony Bourdain still came across as grateful. Grateful for the fame, for the financial security and the travel. And grateful for the families across the globe who have welcomed him to their family tables.
If Tony Bourdain comes to your area, you should take the opportunity to hear him speak. You will laugh, you will be shocked, and you will also learn a few new key phrases to use at the bar. In the foodie world, this guy is truly a rock star.Sidenote: For my regular blog readers, you know me well enough to expect the following: “I got to see Tony Bourdain! SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEE!” (OK, I feel better now.)