There have been such delightful feasts thus far at The Paramount this season. In fact, it’s been a veritable smörgåsbord
of talent, each a memorable show that also whets our appetite for more. Well, fear not, my fellow Paramount subscribers and devotees; another course is about to be presented. It looks to be a unique experience served up onstage in the heart of Austin. The participants are two of the more prominent culinary voices in society today: Anthony Bourdain
and Eric Ripert
, a yin and yang in foodie circles. Unconventional as the idea may seem, the prospect of this duo has me salivating. It certainly sounds like an interesting dish, does it not?
When one thinks of Texas (in the gastronomical sense), I imagine the initial thoughts are limited to merely steaks or barbecue. While I suppose profiling our state as a land of beef isn’t completely without merit, we Texans are capable of cooking and eating more than red meat. For those that don’t know, the size and history of our state has provided a diverse variety of cultures to cultivate our culinary tastes. At long last, we’re beginning to break through the mold of briskets, rib eyes and fajitas. Heck, we in the Lone Star state are even hosting a season of Top Chef. Ok, wait… while that doesn’t quite validate our credentials, it does expose a broader view of food in a land where everything’s bigger.
So if you’re a Texan whose palate is limited to Whataburger value meals, you may just be asking yourself… who the heck are these guys?
Well, when it comes to accolades, it’s hard to think of anyone more honored in the food-mosphere than Eric Ripert. He’s a chef, author, television personality, as well as the living embodiment of modern French cuisine. Author of four cookbooks, Ripert also is a recipient of the Legion d’Honneur, France’s highest honor. On television, he’s a regular guest judge on “Top Chef” and hosts “Avec Eric,” an Emmy-winning PBS series.
Oh yeah, and he cooks too. Ripert is the chef and co-owner of Le Bernardin in New York City. The restaurant has earned the very highest ratings from The Michelin Guide, the Zagat Guide, and has held a four-star review from The New York Times for over two decades. A man with a reputation for some of the finest seafood in the world, it’s safe to say you’ll never catch him at your local neighborhood Long John Silver’s.
Eric Ripert’s accolades are without question and full of merit. Anthony Bourdain, on the other hand, is a whole other brand of awesome…
I’ll be 100% honest. I’m not one to idolize anyone, but Anthony Bourdain is one of my favorite people on Earth. Sure, he’s acerbic, but beneath his outwardly cynical veneer is a worldliness and refreshingly rough and tumble approach to life itself. He is a chef, author and television personality (and nemesis of Rachel Ray
and Paula Deen
A graduate of the CIA (that’s the Culinary Institute of America, not the Central Intelligence Agency), Bourdain was an executive chef at Brasserie Les Halles in New York City, where he specialized in classic French dishes. He wrote about his experiences at the restaurant in his professional memoir, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly. A visceral and eye-opening look behind the kitchen door, the book introduced us all to his sardonic wit and gift for prose.
After making his splash on the New York bestseller list with Kitchen Confidential, Bourdain appeared on The Food Network (don’t hold that against him) with his show “A Cook’s Tour.” He then jumped ship to The Travel Channel where he has established himself as the host of “No Reservations,” a program that allows Anthony to showcase different cultures and the foods that help define people across the globe. He has continued to author bestselling books and is now also a writer and consultant for the HBO series “Treme.”
An outspoken author and food critic, Bourdain’s most admirable trait is the sense that he plows through existence as a man with little to no fear. He possesses a lust for life that would make Iggy Pop proud. For Anthony, food is clearly one of the highest forms of artistry, imbibed with the spirit of whoever prepared it. The most important ingredient is the heart and soul of the cook; the end result isn’t just the presentation of a dish, but a sharing of a story. When viewed in that light, Bourdain’s voice is enlightening and occasionally a thing of beauty.
While these two may be a yin and yang of culinary points of view, the wealth of experience and observations they hold is mind-boggling to ponder. Think of the stories these two must have heard, think of the savory details they could share, not to mention the recipes they’ve encountered. Now, who wouldn’t want to sit at a table with these two? I could happily eat, sit and listen to these guys talk for hours on end.
Now is our chance to do so, and without the hinderance of a full belly. After all, we Texans have a big appetite for storytelling also. Variety may well be the spice of life, and these two guys have a wealth in their pantries.