Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain shows some remorse for his comments about Fabio Viviani's dish.

on Dec 1, 20100

You should know that under the Judges' Table, just out of sight of the cameras, are apple boxes containing various beverages. Most of the time, Padma's drinking some kind of herbal tea. But Tom and I? By the end of the day, we've got two shaker glasses filled with gin and tonics working under there. And after 16 hours of eating, evaluating, arguing over who stays and who goes? There's no skimping on the gin.

I know, I'm supposed to be a heartless, evil, snarky bastard. But actually, I'm rooting for these contestants. All of them. I like cooks. I think anybody who cooks with pride is automatically on the side of the angels. I want them to do well.

Even more so with his particular group of 18. They are, after all, the "All-Stars." The Veterans. Who've been to this rodeo before. Who've endured the slings and arrows, experienced the heartbreak of almost, almost making it -- before either choking at the penultimate moment (Richard Blais), having an inexplicable brain fart which requires you to drown scallops in butterscotch sauce (Dale Talde), become debilitatingly ill (Angelo Sosa), or falling victim to the Far-More-Evil-Than-Me Eric Ripert (Tiffany Derry).

All were mighty warriors, brought low by a strange confluence of bad luck, bad timing, bad decision making, "just-not-your-day" syndrome, tough judging, or extraterrestrial visitation that can happen at any time to the best of professionals.

In fact, one of the joys of watching Top Chef is seeing a talented cook reach the limits of their talent and experience yet somehow, dig deep, find something more -- and push through to victory.

More painful is watching an otherwise talented chef walk slowly and with eyes wide open into a haymaker for no apparent reason. These chefs are older, smarter, and presumably wiser now, which should make for a very exciting season.

No one likes their work to be mocked. Fabio in particular. And yet mock I did. I couldn't help it. I mean, look at that thing. Its supreme ugliness only reinforced and highlighted by its presentation on paper, bringing to mind immediately and inevitably, the command oft directed at a bad puppy: "Go on the paper! The paper!!"

Did it taste that bad? Did it -- and by extension -- Fabio, deserve the kind of scorn I heaped on him?

I don't know. Clearly, I hurt his feelings. And seeing that, I feel bad. Really. To the extent that you can like anyone you know only from TV, I like Fabio. And I liked how he stood up for himself and gave some back at Judges' Table. If I were an employer looking to hire a chef from the among the All Stars, I'd think very seriously about Fabio. He's smart, likable, steady, level-headed in a crisis, and hence not easily flustered -- and I'm guessing he's a much better chef than evidenced on this first day, where he was challenged to "fix" a dish he's surely had plenty of time to think about. But...look at that thing. Really! Look again.

174 comments
Janis  Moakler
Janis Moakler

Mr. Bourdain,

You have an very arrogant, sarcastic attitude most of the time. Fabio was completely justified in calling you out about your mocking his dish. You went too far. Criticism is one thing, mocking is quite another.

Nate James
Nate James

Were you referring to Gordon Ramsay? Why is he never on the show?

Kathleen Nelson
Kathleen Nelson

I was infuriated with your mockery of Fabio and his attempt at Italian "street" fare, paper wrapping and all. You were inappropriate and downright anal. Get a grip on your towering ego. This show is inspiring to a lot of us home cooks who "wish we could have gone to school to become a chef" but couldn't afford either the time or the cost of the training. I learn something of value even from the culinary failures. Thankfully, Fabio had a whole lot more class than you ever will aspire to have when he stood up to your arrogant mockery.

daniel chaplain
daniel chaplain

How much of this show is competition or production driven. I have many ideas,how about ya'll?

Goldboink
Goldboink

Once again I laughed out loud reading this Blog. How on earth do you get away with it. In the commentary for Office Space one of the actors referred to Mike Judge as having F-You money. I think that you had the F-You before you had the money and have honed it to an art.

Felching Ms Butterworth. Too effin much. How do you get away with it.

barkingowl
barkingowl

Tony I love your blog you seem to be the Hunter S. Thompson of the culinary world. Keep up the great work.

Surprise
Surprise

Hi Guys,

I'm sorry, but I don't think that was remorse. It was surprise from Fabio's rebutal. It's an indication that the participants are comfortable with their skills and that they will not have someone mocking them.

That was the most calmest, most publically correct, ass chewing I've ever seen. Just like Fabio, I understand the it's a competition, but sometimes folks go too far.

Notice that the second time Mr. Bourdain had to critic Fabio's dish, he was way more reserved and respectful, whether induced by the producers or acknowledgmentt of pushing that envelop.

This definitely is a competition. The best, though not winners, will make them step up their game and they seem to be meeting the challenge.

Thanks, nf

PBnJ
PBnJ

"It's why I can barely drive by an Olive Garden without wanting to slam on the brakes and get stabby with strangers." LOL, Good stuff. Also enjoyed the comment about felching Mrs. Butterworth. Gold.

justin rogan
justin rogan

nice name just Im a chef and Bordain is no silly sausage

scanmuse
scanmuse

Gertrude Stein. And she said it about Oakland.

Moxy
Moxy

I can't say anything bad about any of these chefs. That's hard effin work and I couldn't produce one of those damn plates with a week and 5 sous chefs. I bow to them.

So delighted you're judging this season. I record every episode of NR and watch them over and over. You're truly entertaining.

Deanie32
Deanie32

NOW I'll be a steady viewer while waiting for your next book to hit the press. Tom C gets mean, you just get (what's the word?) SNARKY........

Terrence Madden
Terrence Madden

There was a shot of Anthony Bourdain reacting to Fabio's come-back, that clearly showed that he was a a tad remorseful for how severely he attacked Fabio's dish. I liked the edit, I liked the initial berating of the dish, and I enjoyed Fabio's come-back directly to Tony Bourdain's face. Good TV.

flowergirl
flowergirl

So glad that you are a regular judge this season! We have the level-headed and composed Tom and the sweet-as-sugar Gail on the panel anyway - needed you to spice it up! Fabio deserved every one of those comments, it just seems like all the chef's came with diva attitudes and super-size egos this season! Elia came with a defeatist attitude and Jen seems to have lost the ability to accept that she's capable of making a mistake. Entertaining season, nevertheless! We love you for the hyperbolic, snarky sense of humor you pepper your comments with, please don't change anything!

Margoshka11
Margoshka11

That is saying a lot about Fabio's food considering all the nasty things I've seen you eat on your show from around the world.

Leslee
Leslee

Now that is what I call entertainment, Anthony and Top Chef, together, like a great date, Donny and Marie, Tiger Woods and who ever is next!! Only wish I was sitting next to you enjoying the gin and a few snarky comments. You call 'em like you taste them or in the famous pasta case, see 'em!!! Can not wait for the next show!!

juni
juni

I don't think you need to apologize at all. It was your honest reaction and Fabio could have taken it like a man instead of letting his petulant ego rule. Or he could even have laughed at what you said, as it was witty, after all. As for Elia, I was glad to see her go. Though she is pretty to look at, I found her extremely annoying during her season and never really saw her as a master chef material. She had failed in her execution of dishes numerous times and only succeeded with a roast chicken and cream of mushroom soup, which most home cooks can do well. She created drama with her accusations that Marcel cheated and her food tasting/sampling hygiene was suspect.

Debrad
Debrad

I was also very happy to see Tony as a judge, but, while watching the show, was unhappy with the comments he made about Fabio's food..mostly because I am a big fan of Fabio's and didn't like seeing him spoken to like that. Hopefully, Fabio will learn from the experience. Please keep telling it like it is, tho perhaps you can keep from mocking people?

Lexie_Girl
Lexie_Girl

Looooove you!!! I'm so pumped that you are going to be a regular judge this season. There have been seasons where you didn't guest judge and you were missed.

Judd999
Judd999

Thanks for the blog. I'm with those that think even if your comments on Fabio's food, even if somewhat gin-driven, were appropriate and what I'm looking for in a judge - to tell it like he sees and tastes it. I also loved that Fabio came to the table ready to say how much he resented them.

TXFOODIE
TXFOODIE

For godssake, didn't Fabio play this game before. Top Chef is first and foremost an entertainment show. He needs to suck it up and realize that the audience wants to be entertained...we can't taste the food, but we can certainly enjoy the critiques. Keep dishing out the snarky criticisms, Tony. I will keep coming back for seconds.

annah
annah

Great blog!!! I love that u are judging this season!!! It is going to be a bumpy ride!!!

Topchefer
Topchefer

Nope, Gordon Ramsay would have told Fabio to "f" off and get out of the kitchen.

Susan Baker-Deeds
Susan Baker-Deeds

I feel all the judges are fair.....And truth be told,The show would be boring with out a little sparks.

Chelsea Girl
Chelsea Girl

Anthony!!!

It is shocking that an erudite such as yourself doesn't know, and also doesn't bother to check your facts!!!

It was OAKLAND, not LA. And it was Gertrude Stein not "someone" who said "there's no there there".

oldladytown
oldladytown

o dear...that presentation of Fab's pasta was far from fabulous. OK..it's a peasant food. But what sort of excuse that was! He's a fine dining chef not a cook from a small village. He should've known to refine the peasant recipe/dish & elevate it to a decent top chef degree... Me love pasta a lot, but his dish was quite off-putting. Super generous chunk of pasta accompanied with even more generous serving of sauce. That sauce could've served for 2 more dishes

Jantina
Jantina

Chef Bourdain; I like you. You make me LOL. Your comment about Fabio's pasta dish looking, "like an inside out animal." was spot on. If Fabio doesn't want people making comments about how funny his food looks; he shouldn't make funny looking food. Go ahead. Drink your gin and make your hilariously snarky comments. All those proper people can just back off. As chef's say, "It is, what it is."

1pinkladee
1pinkladee

If Fabio is all that, then why is he on TCA's???????????????

1pinkladee
1pinkladee

I HEART Anthony Bourdain! I luv his show and as a regular viewer, I know what to expect from him...........So another Chef should know what to expect too!

Johnnie
Johnnie

Sorry, I must respectfully disagree with you. Bourdain's style may not be your preference, but I don't think he's inappropriate. Also, I too love Tom, but there are always cheftestants every season that he singles out and treats with less than respect (Jeff from Season 5 springs to mind)

mtm
mtm

Unfortunately, efforts to slow or halt language change, particularly lexical change, are rarely successful. In this case, the language might be richer maintaining both: they may mean essentially 'the same thing', but carry different connotations and, more importantly, 'snide' is an adjective, while 'snark' is a noun, so in many contexts 'snark' will actually yield the simpler and more elegant formulation.

And are you really asking AB to adapt his vocabulary to provide a positive linguistic example? AB? Really?

sundevilpeg
sundevilpeg

*sigh*

That "someone" was Gertrude Stein. And she was speaking about Oakland, CA, not Los Angeles. Try to keep your insults straight, and your quotes correct. It's not like this one is in any way obscure.

Kathy Warren
Kathy Warren

While your comments were a little," over the top", the chefs should know that they should expect that from you. I know your a nice guy but it's just your style of expression. Besides, Fabio needed to hear it. His dish was a mess. Very rarely did I see presentation like that in his dishes on the season he was on. I know he is a better cook than that! I was actually quite disappointed b/c I am rooting for him to do well. Hopefully he can redeem himself next week. Maybe he should just remember his good friend Stefan(other chef from Europe from his season) and remember the quality of food he put out to give him inspiration...

Lyshorty
Lyshorty

I think there's an even split down the middle of those who enjoyed Chef Bourdain's callous comments and those who are strongly against such callow behavior. I'm with those who are strongly against how Chef Bourdain responded to Fabio's dish. Fabio's dish was far from his best, but as a judge Chef Bourdain should embrace his role and leave the hard ass 'I don't give a f***' attitude for another TV show. Not Top Chef. It doesn't belong in the show and it loses its integrity when the judges bring drama to the table. I do appreciate Chef Bourdain's attempt to set things in order by blogging about his comments and taking some sort of responsibility for it. He should feel bad and focus more on constructive criticism (as Chef Ripert v-logged) to help the chefs versus trying to deflate their drive. If he truly is rooting for these chefs, he should first start by being some sort of role model. Sort of lost respect for him as an ionic chef, but only the first episode, hopefully he's learned from his mistake.

Lizzybeth1974
Lizzybeth1974

The people complaining about Bourdain's comments have NO clue about what he is or what he does. He is not going to censor himself for some whiny people who cannot take it!

RachelW
RachelW

Tony, Stop it. Say what you mean and mean what you say. "Feel Bad" for Fabio, for what? This is Top Chef Masters - frankly you have said worse to Rachael Ray! Maybe it is time for more gin not less. Let the real Tony out and please do us all a favor, talk it, walk it, own it. And if all along the Tony we came to know is not the real Tony - then damn you took us all along a wild ride. As you can see I am angry - good, it motivates.

Realizing that you are a daddy now and have in fact become more measured in your travels, and critiques, we can accept that - but to say you were too harsh on Fabio is not being truthful. Clearly half of those Chefs should of gone home at that point - most were weak, same old same old and we have seen this menu before.

Do Chefs constantly have to serve, raw fish, blue meat, call it some complicated french name and throw some 'micro greens' on it ?? Where is the creativity? Where is the thought? Where is the talent? Where is the originality? Or have we, as you become to mellow? NO. I say not.

Treat them like a French chef in the kitchens in Paris........ make them Top Chef Masters.

Jackie S
Jackie S

I appreciated thoughtful and perplexed expression on your face when Fabio stood up for himself. As a fan of "No Reservations," it's nice to see you offering your opinions directly to the preparer of the meal, as opposed to your show, where you act as a polite consumer, and only share your true thoughts to the viewers. You are the Simon Cowell of Top Chef, only likable.

Jackie S
Jackie S

I appreciated the thoughtful and somewhat perplexed expression on your face when Fabio stood up for himself. It's nice to see you comment directly to the person who prepared the meal, as opposed to your own show where you act as a polite consumer and only share your true opinion to the viewer. You are the Simon Cowell of Top Chef, only likable.

Jd the II
Jd the II

OMG... Fabio put on your big girl panties..... your dish definitely looked unappealing and the paper- what were you thinking? Almost everyone of these Chefs are so full of themselves; step it up and take this thing... you can.

Tony, glad you are one of the judges; keep it real and it is time to deflate some of these big heads!

lgodwani
lgodwani

I think Fabio knew he had screwed up big time, this whole outburst just seems like a feeble attempt to get the focus away from a bad dish onto Bourdain, lets not forget that when Toby Young first came on in Season 5, Fabio was the one who first said something about Young being capable of tearing someone a new one, none of this anger or self righteousness was displayed then, and Toby Young was sharp that season! I think Fabio seriously needs to balls up and quit whining!

jeanneX
jeanneX

The reason I've appreciate Top Chef over other competitive reality shows was because of the modicum of respect showed the contestants. The judge's mockery of contestant's creations on Project Runway, for example, leaves a disgusting taste in one's mouth. I did not enjoy your offensive comments and find your presence on the show to basically ruin its tone and attitude. Tom has always shown contestants the respect of one professional to another. I don't see any of that from you and I must protest. Although I unfortunately believe that you will not read this and that the episodes are already filmed, I can only hope that my perspective will be noted by the producers. This is not making for a better show! Pack your knives and GO AWAY!

Lisetta
Lisetta

Fabio came across as arrogant and his dish showed that attitude, too, right down to the paper plating. You weren't picking on the little guy; you were taking someone who needed it down a peg. With humor. Fabio needs a little more of that, too.

But I agree that the All Stars will make great viewing--especially with Elia and her nasty attitude (and nastier undercooked fish) gone. These "All Stars" are lucky to have you on the panel--BECAUSE you bring an amazing breadth of experience with all kinds of cooking and cuisines, can evaluate a dish, and are not just a food snob (attitude toward vegetarians perhaps the only exception).

Plus, I love how you don't hold grudges (note: Fabio) and, even more, stand up for the underdog. I am hoping you will bring some balance to the (imo, unfair) reactions to Marcel and Tiffani D. They are both very talented and, imo, seem pretty nice people who had a bad draw of competitors.

In any case, I'm glad Tom C. had the great sense to bring you to judges' table. Just don't go too soft--your fans expect the humor, but most of all, the honesty. Thanks for blogging--always a fan of your writing. Lisetta

cynabon
cynabon

No you are right.. i think constructive vs. bloodletting is much productive especially for these contestants that are trying to get it right the second time around. Everyone needs guidance even those in the business for several years because thats what makes a good chef great.

Karen W
Karen W

I respect Tony Bourdain, and although I could not taste Fabio's "peasant food" (Fabio's words NOT Tony's) I think Fabio knew he was not putting his all in that dish, and just didn't feel that he should have been called out for it. He ain't all that, and really needs to learn to keep his ego in check if he is going to participate in these sorts of shows!

I enjoyed Bourdain's comments, and will be looking forward to his blog in the weeks to come!

Chris Vieni
Chris Vieni

Bourdain, I mean this with all due respect, because I'm a huge fan of your books and TV show. This is Top Chef, not Hell's Kitchen. You of all people should realize the difference between culinary art and Jerry Springer for foodies. Keep it constructive.

Junior Balloon
Junior Balloon

I doubt Tony reads these. If Tony had said at judges table what he wrote in his blog I could respect that. If he had said "I know pasta, I know what good pasta should taste like and that was not good pasta I expect better from someone lik e you Fabio." That I would respect. Instead he was grinning and enjoying the limelight, center of attention while cutting down one of his own, a hard working chef. Nothing to be proud of there. Wake up Tony.

And for those who think I'm just a hater I have several of his books and watch No Res every chance I get.

jb

Wilma de Soto
Wilma de Soto

Marcel was just being Marcel. Does he have technique? Of course. Can he cook something that is SO good that no one would ever forget eating it, or something that shows his technique but doesn't really blow you off the eating table? Perhaps. Richard Blais does both.