Thursday, April 8, 2010

No Reservations

For those yet to catch an episode of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations on the Travel Channel, it’s time to tune in immediately. As the famed chef of NYC’s Les Halles, writer of the hit Kitchen Confidential, and award winning television host, Bourdain is equally famous to viewers for his penchant for eating strange food as he is for his untamed behavior. He’s got the iron-clad stomach of Andrew Zimmern, but he’s also a guy you’d like to drink a beer (or 10) with at the end of the day, or to start the morning.

I’ve been a fan of the show over the past 6 seasons. For those of you who’ve watched, you’ve probably noticed a couple of things. Number one: the quality of the show (production/camera work/editing) has evolved into some seriously outstanding television. It’s clear that the crew/producers are incredibly talented, even if they are working in tough conditions and on a limited budget. Number two: Tony has comfortably grown into his role . . . some might even say as a master story-teller. Even though earlier seasons were quite entertaining, Tony spent quite a bit of time making critical asides to the viewer on his hatred for the over-commercialized food industry. In fact, No Reservations was sometimes more of an outlet for bullying The Food Network than it was a serious travel and food series. Coincidentally, No Reservations was borne after one season of a similar show, A Cook’s Tour, whereby Tony worked for his so-called evil foe, The Food Network. Perhaps the success of No Reservations has allowed Tony to relax, and maybe even, dare I say it, soften up a touch.

Regardless, this week’s episode was quite the departure from the typical show. Instead of traveling to exotic lands, meeting new and interesting people, and sharing the local delicacies, the viewer is given a front row seat to the kitchens of some of the best chefs in the world. Instead of an over-the-top discussion of foodie related dishes and techniques, Tony focuses on the classics that every home cook should (and can) master. I love it.

Thomas Keller’s roasted chicken, Jacques Pepin’s omelet, Scott Conant’s spaghetti in tomato sauce, and Bourdain’s own beef bourguignon are some of the highlights of the episode. Other classics include: the perfect hamburger, making French fries, grilling a steak, and steaming lobster. Within a one hour program, the viewer is given a lifetimes worth of knowledge and skills. I don’t think I saw a single dish contain over five ingredients. Salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil, fresh herbs, and some high quality ingredients were the keys to every meal. Even the best chefs in the world advocate simplicity!

You should be able to catch reruns of the episode on The Travel Channel or On Demand.

Crack open a cold beer, and get to work!


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