An Evening with Celebrity Chefs Mario Batali & Anthony Bourdain
By: Kim Michele
The Miami International Book Fair (Nov 8-15) brought two of the culinary world’s most popular chefs, authors and television celebrities together for a very entertaining evening of banter, laughter and food talk. Mario Batali and Anthony Bourdain treated an audience of over 5000 to an entertaining, wide-ranging discussion and ‘evening with…’ at the Miami International Book Fair. Both world travelers with popular television shows, the pair top the list of any gourmand’s favorite dinner table guests.
In a very relaxed setting on stage, the two celebrity chefs spoke candidly about their love for food and wine, cooking and travel, while promoting their newly released books; ‘A Culinary Road Trip to Spain’ by Mario Batali and actress Gwyneth Paltrow, and ‘The Nasty Bits’ by Anthony Bourdain.
“The Nasty Bits”, a book of essays derived in part from his popular television travelogue series, ‘No Reservations,’ Bourdain is the author of seven books, including Kitchen Confidential and A Cook’s Tour. Batali, also a seasoned author, co-wrote ‘A Culinary Road Trip to Spain’ with Gwyneth Paltrow in conjunction with their increasingly popular PBS show ‘Spain… On the Road Again.’
The evening kicked off with friendly banter as Bourdain and Batali interviewed each other, delving into a life of food, restaurants (Batali has a total of 14 restaurants), family and finding balance. Although Mario Batali is the Italian culinary expert, he actually went to high school in Spain and is highly influenced by the Spanish culture and food; hence his culinary road trip!
Then the Q & A started, which had us all in stitches…
Q: Who are your 3 favorite authors / books on food?
- Fergus Henderson’s The Whole Beast & Beyond Nose to Tail
- Marco Pierre
- Julia Child – ‘she changed the lifestyle of cooking in America’
- Harold McGee
- Elisabeth David – French, Italian & Mediterranean cooking
- Splendid Table – favorite cookbook
Q: Who would be the last person you would want to cook your Thanksgiving dinner?
A: Bourdain – Robin Miller
A: Batali – Sandra Lee
Q: Who are your favorite Miami chefs & restaurants?
A: Batali –
- Norman Van Aken: South Florida’s very own celebrity chef, formally of Louie’s Backyard. He has recently returned to Key West to open Tavern N Town at the Beachside Resort.
- Michelle Bernstein – Michy’s restaurant is located in Miami’s up and coming ‘upper east side’, between downtown Miami and the Design District
- Las Vacas Gordes – Argentinean Steak House
Q: What do you think the next food trend will be?
A: Bourdain – As Americans travel and become more seasoned eaters, the restaurant business needs to become more specific to regions and new ideas. Not just Italian food but food from a particular region that differentiates it from the norm.
Q: When in Korea, did you eat dog?
A: Bourdain – No. I have definite principals as to what is a pet and what is food.
A: Batali – I did eat cat in Italy once – a practice that is now illegal
Q: What do you eat at home?
A: Bourdain – macaroni and cheese
A: Batali – chips and salsa
Q: What do you consider the most exciting culinary destination?
A: Bourdain – Singapore. It is a great mix of Chinese, Malay and Indian food
A: Batali – Vietnam
Q: What is your favorite food?
A: Bourdain – Sushi and Japanese food
A: Batali – Spaghetti / linguini with clams
All in all it was an enlightening experience and a wonderful opportunity to meet such culinary icons. Who knew Anthony Bourdain had such a sense of humor?