Category Archives: Books

I got to meet Anthony Bourdain (for a split second)

Me and Anthony BourdainI looked forward to this for months. My family was awesome and bought me two front-row VIP tickets to see Anthony Bourdain on Tour at The Wharton Center for Performing Arts in East Lansing.

I have been a fan for sometime now. I first discovered his show on Netflix and spent all my nights and weekends plowing through the first seven or eight seasons. I read Kitchen Confidential and Medium Raw, saw him on tour with Eric Ripert last February and finally got to meet him last night (for a spilt second).

It was cool. The show was great. He begins with a comedy routine, ripping on Food Network stars like Paula Deen and Guy Fieri. Then he transitions into stories about the people and places featured on his show. He weaves in topics like health, politics, history and how they play a role in what we eat and why. I found his talk fascinating and totally worth it.

The VIP part takes places after the show. Essentially, Bourdain does a book signing for the first three rows, about 150 people at a local restaurant. Ours was at Red Haven. It was crowded, loud, and since I was tired, I got anxious. After only about 20 minutes in line, I got my minute face time with Tony. Maybe he was just as tired as I was, because he didn’t seem especially gracious or happy to be there. I said hello, he nodded and signed my books. I asked for a picture, resulting in another nod. I said “thank you” and I was off.

Anthony Bourdain Book Signing

I am not sure what I was expecting. I know he can’t have conversations with everyone. In fact, I am not even really sure what I would have or should have said. He also spelled my name wrong on one of my books. Oh well. If any Lindsay’s out there love Kitchen Confidential, I have a signed copy for you.

All in all, I enjoyed the show. I am glad he came to Lansing. I am glad he plans to do an episode on Detroit. It is good for Michigan, and that’s good enough for me.

An Evening with Bourdain and Ripert

I looked forward to this for weeks, and finally — the date came — Good vs Evil: An Evening with Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert in Grand Rapids. First off, I think it’s insanely cool that they came to Grand Rapids, especially when they also did a Detroit show the Friday before. The show started off with Anthony and Eric ripping on Gordon Ramsey and Guy Fieri. The audience loved it. Then, they took turns roasting each other, telling hilarious stories, such as when Ripert punched a Frenchman in the nose for being rude to the server at some hoity-toity Parisian restaurant.

The rest of show was pretty much what I expected: the two chefs sat on stage and discussed topics ranging from getting started in the industry, to the foie gras ban and sustainable farming, Paula Deen, and a bit about Bourdain’s history with drug use and how he’s changed since he had his daughter. On the way home, my husband asked me if I learned anything new about them from the show. The answer is no, not really. It seemed as though a lot of the material came from Kitchen Confidential and Medium Raw. Anthony also recounted some of the more memorable moments from the TV show No Reservations. But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t really enjoy the evening — I absolutely loved it!

We got to town early and had dinner at Bistro Bella Vita. This was my first Grand Rapids restaurant experience, and I was really pleased. I wish we had places like it in Lansing, but it’s a lot of fun to make the road trip to GR for new places to eat!

Here are some photos of the night:

Spinach and Goat Cheese Gnocchi from Bistro Bella Vita

Outside of DeVos Performance Hall

Bourdain and Ripert on stage

I bought a pre-signed copy of "No Reservations"

What I’m reading: Blood, Bones and Butter

A couple weeks back I picked up Blood, Bones and Butter by
Gabrielle Hamilton. The title alone is enough to make me faint, but I heard so much praise for the book, I decided to give it a go.

I still have about 80 pages left, but let me just say it: I love this book. The opening chapter makes me feel like I’m under a warm-fuzzy, purple, starry-night sky. The way Hamilton describes her early memories of her mother makes me want to really be French. I want to cook amazing meals in my kitchen wearing Dior heels, a classy skirt and apron while sipping French wine. I want to have a child and teach her about brie with pears and coq au vin.

After her parents’ divorce, Hamilton describes being a young child and having to fend for herself. This is where my starry-night sky feelings shifted. The book recounts Hamilton’s experience working for New York City catering companies and later, living in Ann Arbor while attending the University of Michigan for an MFA in writing. I loved reading her observations of mid-western culture, and especially her thoughts on graduate studies (her “WTF” moments made me laugh out loud; I’ve so been there).

I also love the way she describes the chef life. I’ve sort of become fascinated with the idea of it in a way that makes me want to work long hours in a hot kitchen and drink cold beers at the end of the night — so I too can be infinitely badass.

But what I love most about this book is the way it reminded me of running around the fine-dining restaurant where my mom worked for 25 years. I crept around the old basement wine cellar, totally fascinated by the hiss-pop of the CO2 machine and the walk-in beer cooler where they also kept fresh flowers. When I got old enough, I worked the coat check, and after that I went on catering jobs with my mom. We did weddings, swanky parties at private homes, new year’s eve parties and everything in between.

In my current food-related job, I once made a suggestion about the service for a special event breakfast. Someone retorted how funny it was to have a suggestion about the service coming for me – someone with no food service experience. “Hold it right there,” I thought. I’ve done my share of hard work.

In high school I worked every Friday and Saturday night (and many a Sunday afternoon) on a dinner train. I helped haul every water glass, spoon, fork and knife on and off that train for nearly three years. I carved prime rib on a moving train in a kitchen no bigger than the bathroom in my basement at home. I carried five-gallon buckets of dirty silverware and soapy water from the boxcar to the catering truck, which I often drove, packed to the gills with everything needed to pull off a four-course meal on a moving train.

Personal story aside, if you have any interest at all in foodie culture, I highly recommend Gabrielle Hamilton’s memoir. It’s beautifully written. I believe Mario Batali says it best:

I will read this book to my children and then burn all the books I have written for pretending to be anything even close to this. Then I will apply for the dishwasher job at Prune to learn from my new queen.