Anthony Bourdain and Mario Batali take the Paramount Theatre stage in Seattle May 30 for a night of food banter. In an interview, Bourdain talks to The Seattle Times about all matters of food and writing. This story was updated Wednesday afternoon with a few more morsels from the interview.
Anthony Batali has a certain ring to it. But just because Anthony Bourdain would like to be adopted by the Batali food family doesn’t mean it will happen. For now, he will have to settle for sharing the stage with one.
“It’s a bone of contention between me and Mario [Batali],” Bourdain said. “I’m deeply envious of his family. I’d kind of like them to adopt me.”
Bourdain, celebrity chef, author of “Kitchen Confidential” and host of the Travel Channel’s “No Reservations,” will be bantering Saturday with equally-famous-and-probably-not-adopting New York chef Mario Batali at the Paramount Theatre. If Bourdain’s brief trip to Seattle works the way he hopes, it will include a juicy, dripping sandwich from Pioneer Square shop Salumi Artisan Cured Meats. The shop was co-founded by Mario’s parents, Armandino and Marilyn Batali. It’s now owned by their daughter and son-in-law Gina Batali and Brian D’Amato.
Bourdain spoke to us from New York about all matters of food and writing, and did a little word association:
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On Salumi: “That is a holy place for me. I love that place. I’ve jokingly said, but I’m half serious it should be a UNESCO site. It should be a landmark.”
On Seattle’s food scene: “The same engine that seems to attract so many serial killers to the Pacific Northwest has attracted an extraordinarily high number of talented cooks, like these little producers. Rogue bakers. Cheesemakers. It’s one of the most exciting, if not the most exciting areas of the country to eat.”
On Mario Batali: “He’s so much smarter and funnier and faster than me, so it’s never boring. … He’s a better chef, he’s a better businessman. … He’s an important guy based on what he’s done for food alone. You know me because of an obnoxious book I wrote.”
On writing: “I’m a pretty decent writer. It comes easy to me. I don’t agonize over sentences. I write like I talk. I try to make them good books.”
On the bad boy chef label: “You can call me the bad boy chef all you want. I’m not going to freak out about it. I’m not that bad. I’m certainly not a boy, and it’s been a while since I’ve been a chef. I don’t have any illusions about cool. I go to dance class with my daughter, doing the twist with a bunch of nannies.”
On Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern:” “Thank God that’s not me.”
On treadmills: “Hell.”
On locavores: (Laughs.) “I can’t help you.”
On dog meat: “Haven’t eaten it. Awkward.”
On geoduck: “Delicious.”
On Michelle Obama: “Really happy.”
On raw food: “Angry rabbits. Flatulence.”
On cupcakes: “Enough.”
On lunch with Felicia “Snoop” Pearson from HBO’s “The Wire”: “I’m such a slavish fan of that show. … She rolled up in an Escalade with some friends. She was lovely to us. She was really, really, really nice and funny and we had a great meal at her favorite place, walked around her old [Baltimore] neighborhood, which of course is the neighborhood from ‘The Wire.'”
On food trends: “The Kobe craze really annoyed me. Most of the practitioners had no real understanding of the product and were abusing it and exploiting it in terrible and ridiculous ways. Kobe beef should not be used in a hamburger. It’s completely pointless.”
On Bravo’s “Top Chef”: “By the time you’ve made it past six or seven episodes, the cooks that are left on that program are really good. The level of food is generally shockingly good, considering what’s asked of these people and under what conditions. … I thought Hung [Huynh] was prodigy-like. Really, really, really talented.”
On street food: “The biggest empty space, the biggest gap in what should be a premiere and always vibrant food scene in America is that we don’t have hawker centers like they do in Singapore, basically food courts where mom and pop specialists can set up shop in fairly hygienic little stalls all up to health code making one dish they’ve been doing forever and ever. Just like a food court here except with really good food. … The fact we don’t have that is a shameful absence.”
On eating too much: “There have been times I’ve hit the wall, and I just can’t go on. It has happened.”
Nicole Tsong: 206-464-2150 or firstname.lastname@example.org