No packets of drugs for Anthony Bourdain’s whirlwind, ninety-minute Ferry Building visit Thursday. I spent time with Bourdain during his Thursday morning visit, where he confirmed with a wry smile that he had not received drugs “this time.” His blonde female media handler was bagging up other (legal) F+B gifts that included what looked like a bottle of Scotch, a book on comedians, and edible goodies from Mark Pastore’s Boccalone and Bourbon truffles from Recchiuti. Boccalone’s Chris Cosentino and Tatiana Graf likely would have come over to say hey to Tony in person if they not elsewhere… at the Aspen Food & Wine festival. Graf and Cosentino (as well as the chef Ravi Kapur, Harold McGee, me and my husband) were a part of the San Francisco Incanto dinner for the San Francisco episode of No Reservations last year.
Bourdain was in town this week to sign copies of Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook ($26.99 Ecco). It's a follow up book, of sorts, to his best seller Kitchen Confidential that launched him from a financially struggling chef to famous "bad boy" celeb and TV star of the No Reservations show. (Bourdain became friends with my husband Oscar Villalon at the Chicago Book Expo ten years ago.) He is a Top Chef judge, and does panel and lecture work nationally; Neal Conan interviewed him for NPR.
When Bourdain arrived at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, he received polite applause and laughter from the 100 or so folks waiting in line on promenade on the water, outside of the Book Passage shop. The mood in the air before Bourdain started signing books was eager anticipation. Because the line generally moved at a rapid clip, most guests left smiling. There was one security guard on duty at the doors, and a handful of Book Passage employees to sell books and keep the crowd in order. The process was: get in line. Wait. Pay for your book. Tell the clerk what name you would like Bourdain to inscribe inside the book. A third of the guests we saw appeared to leave with between two and five copies of the Medium Raw books. Customers included employees from Golden Gate Meat Company, McEvoy Olive Oil, Sur La Table, ScharffenBerger, and Hog Island Oyster Company; all were in uniform. Other notable t-shirts that customers wore included a Ramone’s shirt and Meat Hook, both worn by male guests.
Hog Island Oyster Bar, also in the Ferry Building, was where Tony told us he wanted to go after his book signing. A Hog Island Oyster Co. representative confirmed that “we got the call last night,” about Bourdain’s interest in seeing and likely slurping some bivalves. It must’ve been a quick visit, as Bourdain had to next scoot to a book event lunch at Il Fornaio in Levi’s Plaza.