Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert took to a San Francisco stage on Friday night, where they made fun of each other and riffed on everything from hipsters to Mission Chinese Food to Paula Deen—some familiar territory with new culinary nuggets tossed in. We spotted the Dapper Diner and Chef Gerard Hirigoyen in attendance, and the Orpheum Theatre appeared to be sold out. La Cocina’s Caleb Zigas was at the backstage VIP after-party, where bites and a cake in the form of a duck press were on offer from AйDa Piroshki, Onigilly, El Huarache Loco and Inticing Creations. Zigas memorably chatted with Bourdain at Dolores Park for his San Francisco episode of The Layover.
The two rather famous best friends wore similar dark suits and their set looked like the boxing matches from the 1940s and 1950s, with one ominous lamp shining over an uncomfortable chair against a dark backdrop. It was a night that was billed as Good vs. Evil, and started out with Bourdain interrogating Ripert. One of the nicest surprises was how well Ripert was able to dish back to his pal Tony with that rather sexy French accent of his.
Bourdain is a personal friend and appeared to take the lead in the two-hour show. He may have had a major hand in writing much of the script—especially telling was the fact that he brought up the question of who would do the actual physical labor if more of our society had access to organic products. This is a refrain we’ve heard before, even when we were filming for his No Reservations show over dinner at Incanto restaurant in 2009. Bourdain is up front that he is a “total hypocrite” and his own daughter, who he referred to as a “little angel” gets organic food all the time. Bourdain’s wife, Ottavia, on the other hand, eats only “mountains of protein and no carbs at all,” because she is a trained fighter. Ottavia is a columnist for Vice magazine and accepted an assignment to eat vegetarian for a week to see if and how it would affect her training ability. Bourdain joined her for two nights of no-meat and came away unimpressed by restaurants that seemed stuck in a glut of serving dishes that had vegetables like broccoli and carrots with tamari, garlic and ginger--a flavor combo that he ranked as dated.
Bourdain and Ripert were in town for a short amount of time before heading to San Jose for a Saturday night show. Later tweets showed that Tony planned on hitting up a 7-11 store to find food to feed Ripert in San Jose. As for where to eat in the City, Bourdain said that he loves having a “crab with the crab fat“ at Swan Oyster Depot and Ripert responded that he wanted to go there with Tony for breakfast [which they apparently did do]. Bourdain also pointed out that the Bay Area has produce that is the envy of the East Coast.
When the talk turned to Alice Waters, Bourdain showed restraint, a gentlemanly move given the recent fire at Chez Panisse. Audience, he’s sure they would get along swimmingly if they met at a party... but do remember, he warned, that Waters chose shark fin soup as her last meal on a panel he did with her and Duff Goldman--a fact that had the audience guffawing. He appeared to have publicly forgiven Waters, as well as other famous food celebs ranging from Rachael Ray to Emeril. Ray sent him a fruit basket, and “how can I not love” someone who made a joke that Mario Batali will loan you a scrunchie if you give him a blow job—-a jab Ray made at a roast for the ponytailed chef.