AVC: Has becoming a celebrity chef tempered your opinion of your fellow celebrity chefs? In the past, for example, you've said some things about Rachael Ray.
AB: Well, you know, she smartly maintains that she is not a chef. And I agree with her. Like, Emeril [Lagasse] is a chef because he came up through the restaurant system. He was the chef of actual restaurants, and he has a very respectable restaurant empire. I would question Julia Child, whose memory I admire enormously. By that definition, I don't think you could call her a chef. I just see her as a truly great human being, and a force for good in the world. Maybe when I'm harsh on Rachael Ray and Sandra Lee, it's because I think they compare poorly to Julia Child, who I really thought was an advocate for the forces of good and enlightenment. That said, recently I'm beginning to think that I'm just naïve about a lot of things. Why should I feel outraged or surprised that someone with millions and millions of dollars already would want to do something that I see as silly and degrading, like endorse Dunkin' Donuts? It's for the money! Of course it's for the money! Why can't I get that through my head, and why am I having such a problem doing that myself? I was sitting backstage a while back with two chefs whom I really admire—really accomplished chefs who are far more talented than I ever was in the kitchen—and they're talking about how Olive Garden is offering this, and this airline is offering that, and not even blinking. And I asked them "Come on, wouldn't you feel embarrassed if you woke up in the morning and looked in the mirror and saw the chef who endorses Olive Garden?" They looked at me like I was an idiot. And I'm beginning to think that it's just vanity that's kept me from selling out, and doing Imodium commercials or something. [Laughs.] I really don't know why I've avoided it. I'm beginning to think it's for less noble reasons than I have been telling myself.
It got me thinking (and I'm in no position to even contemplate that I'll be paid to endorse products anytime soon...or anytime in the future really...i love guinness and i love jameson) about pride and one's own principles. Anyway, it's a pretty in-depth and personal interview with loads of insight so check it out if you're a fan.
I know I haven't gotten into why I'm a fan of Bourdain, but if you've read "Kitchen Confidential", you'll know where I'm coming from...especially because I have a predilection for general naughtiness and those that posses a certain 'savoir faire'.
If you don't know, he's got a show on The Travel Channel titled "No Reservations", which I fully support as well. The new season (his third) just kicked off last Monday. In the next episode airing on January 16, he'll be featuring the city of Berlin.