Lucky for me, I got to see Anthony Bourdain last week. I’m a big fan of his books and his show, No Reservations. He was in town promoting his new book Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook and hosted a lunch at Il Fornaio so of course I had to go.
My best friend Dee came with me and we walked to the back of the restaurant to get our book signed by Bourdain. I expected him to be gabbing about something or other but he was actually very quiet just sitting there waiting for fan after fan to come over and have their book signed. I’m guessing he was used to all the people on his tour getting all excited around him, me included, and this was his chill time.
It didn’t matter that he wasn’t chatty Kathy because Dee and I got to sit next to the two most chatty people at the whole event. After one minute of meeting this couple, I knew it was going to be a long lunch. This guy was a mixture of Spencer Pratt, Kanye West, and Jamie Kennedy from Malibu’s Most Wanted – he had the spiky blond hair, Prada sunglasses that never came off, bling around his neck, and a bright blue Trojan condom t-shirt. The lucky girl to be his date was so drunk she didn’t notice the irony of her saying how hard it is to find a good guy on Match.com. We were stuck in the corner table together but I was never more embarrassed to have the restaurant’s attention on me as Spencer/Kanye and his lady were obnoxious and loud about the food and Bourdain himself. I thought for sure they were going to steal my thunder once Bourdain made his way over to our neck of the woods for his Q&A.
Fate stepped in however and Spencer/Kanye’s lady friend tripped and knocked into our neighbor’s table spilling red wine all over this woman’s pristine white outfit. Our table mates quickly left after leaving two extra plates of dessert for Dee and I. With the wackos out of the picture, Bourdain walked around the restaurant answering patrons questions and I knew he would answer my question. Maybe he pitied me sitting in the corner but my question was one of the last he answered. I wanted to know what his new episode on Beirut would be like seeing as how his first run there was interrupted by the war in 2006. While I can’t write out his response verbatim, you should know that it will be a good episode when it premieres this summer and you will be able to see Lebanon in the light that it deserves.
He answered other questions about his favorite places to eat in San Francisco (House of Prime Rib!), who he wants to win the World Cup (Italy by the way) and if his trusty travel friend Zamir will be back on the new season of No Reservations (he will), and through it all he is exactly like how he is on television. He doesn’t censor himself, he’s down-to-earth, and was kind to everyone he talked to even though he had more cities, talks, lunches, signings, and dinners waiting for him. In a city as diverse as San Francisco, he was respectful just as he is in every country he visits no matter the eccentricities which is more than I can say for the other new friends I made that day.