BURNT TOAST: Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain (Kitchen Confidential) published another vicious attack on his onetime employers, the Food Network, on his friend, writer Michael Ruhlman’s blog this week. Along with his colleague Gordon Ramsay, I’m a big fan of Bourdain for his intemperate rants, apparently committed to paper in the white heat of rage, without prudent consideration of the effect they’ll have on his employment prospects in the media. I don’t know what it is about chefs these days, but they seem to have a collective license to offend that I sorely wish could be extended to the rest of the adult world.
Bourdain’s piece gets off to a rousing start, as he speculates on “how seriously crack-brained, rapacious and evil the Deep Thinkers at Food Network must be that I find myself - yet again - in deep sympathy with their stable of stars.” The occasion is the Food Network Awards – or THE FABULOUS FOOD NETWORK AWARDS!! as Bourdain calls them, so no one will miss a drop of his sarcasm.
“Okay...so some brain dead douche bags from Ad Sales and ‘creative’ got together and cooked up this hybrid, fur-bearing catfish of a beast, this jackalope of a High Concept,” Bourdain writes. “Fine. That's what they do. But who green lit this monstrosity? Did no one raise their voice and say, ‘Boss ... boss ... Can we really DO this to our talent?’ or even ask ‘Uh ... boss ... Do you think this will be even remotely entertaining?’”
It’s not just that the network humiliated their stars – people like Rachel Ray, Nigella Lawson, Bobby Flay and their stalwart, Emeril Lagasse – but it’s the awards themselves that inspired Bourdain’s tirade, but the awards themselves, which weren’t awarded to anyone on the network, or any person of note in the food industry, but to things.
“The production itself - above and beyond the witless, ill-considered, just-plain stupid ‘concept’ of an Awards show where most of the ‘awards’ went to inanimate objects (accepting the award for Best Comfort Food is...Macaroni and Cheese!!), appliances or cities (Portland's mayor wisely did not bother to show), - the production values - were lower than whale shit,” Bourdain howled breathlessly.
“The selection and photography of ‘beauty plates’ from winning ‘Delicious Destination’ Portland, Oregon (in fact a terrific food destination) looked like somebody took a dump at McFunsters. Portland for fuck's sake! They couldn't find some good looking plates in fucking Portland!?”
Despite Bourdain’s outrage, the show ended up attracting 4.6 million viewers, according to the Serious Eats website, putting it among Food’s top 10 shows, with a strong showing with women aged 18-49. Which will help the “Deep Thinkers” at Food sleep easier, in spite of Bourdain’s contumely.