Thursday, February 2, 2012


"Just because you like Jimi Hendrix doesn't mean you can play like Jimi Hendrix"
Anthony Bourdain

“I don't have to agree with you to like you or respect you.”
Anthony Bourdain

I discovered Anthony Bourdain quite late; I've watched most episodes of No Reservations but am only now reading (and loving) Kitchen Confidential, released in 2000, which made Anthony Bourdain the rockstar of the culinary world. My brother sent me the Youtube link for the HK episode of his new show, The Layover, a few weeks back but it seemed to me just an origami'ed version of No Reservations. Sure I love more Tony but it didn't really do it for me. I did like the fact that he visited Lamma Island in HK (we were just there a couple months back) so it was nice to see places I recognized; and I have to definitely get a new cleaver from the shop he visits in The Layover - Chan Chi Kee cutlery in Yau Ma Tei in Kowloon.

Their cleavers are the real deal - highly prized around the world for being economical in both usage and price. After a bit of research I found a whole sub-culture of cleaver fanatics; people that buy these CCK cleavers and then add custom handles to them. I love my cleaver (sharp blades in general) but this cleaver-love was a bit over the top even for me! Sugimoto cleavers - the Rolls Royce of the cutting world - go for around $400 USD a pop. To see what damage one man can do with a cleaver, watch the video below of Martin Yan (of Yan can Cook!) - jump to 1:40 for the action..

But I digress...

Tony Bourdain came to popularity interestingly around the same time as UK chef Gordon Ramsay; another no-holds barred, F-bomb dropping chain smoking culinary auteur. What impresses me is the fact that Bourdain's shows are not scripted and he can be so grandiosely eloquent while funny. Bourdain can effortlessly spout off about anything and everything. Tony to me is what I need to have more of - the ability to say what I want, when I want. To literally have no reservations in life, to be able to act and speak without thinking too much. Life like that must be sweet; unexpected and spontaneous. Sure, you might get the $#!t kicked out of you from time to time but... c'mon! Live a little.

In Kitchen Confidential, Bourdain talks of his love of home cooking vs high cuisine; the shenanigans that go on behind the counters of your favorite restaurant; of trying anything remotely edible at least once. From seal eyeballs to warthog rectum, Bourdain has tried it. Guess the most adventurous I've been is eating skewered balut (chicken fetus) in Xian, China. Can't say I went for seconds... But trying anything once in life is a good motto to have - we are only of this mortal vice for a finite period of time; maybe better to have lived and eaten eyeball/rectum/balut than not?

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