Friday, October 1, 2010

An Evening with Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert

Last night, after much anticipation (I seriously have been excited since I found about about this almost a year ago), we went to see Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert speak at Clowes Hall. It was part of the Indiana Humanities Council's Food for Thought. It was a great event---completely sold out---kudos to Indianapolis for bring them here.

They ended up talking for about two hours (which, according to this blog, is an hour longer than they agreed to-awesome!). The chemistry between the two is great---they obviously enjoy spending time together. They both seem like genuinely good-hearted people. Also of note, they were drinking local beer Sun King while on stage (which was set up not unlike Between Two Ferns).

The format was great. First, the two chefs took turns grilling each other with tough questions. Bourdain asked Ripert why he voted off likable Tiffany from Top Chef when Kevin only cooked a sirloin steak. He also grilled him about his negative comments about Gordan Ramsey. Eric Ripert, who seems ridiculously nice, was definitely squirming. But when it was his time, he made sure to make Bourdain sweat some too, asking him how he felt like he could judge chefs when he really didn't have much great chef experience.

Next up, the two just chatted about various topics like sustainable seafood, traveling, and the local, organic movement. Anthony Bourdain didn't pull any punches with negative comments about Alice Waters no less. His points were very valid---mainly that although she's had a positive influence and is important, really she is too extreme. He told a couple stories about interviews with her where she was asked how people could afford organic food...her responses were...well, maybe they could just buy fewer cell phone minutes or one less pair of nikes. With kids eating chicken nuggets and fries all the time, maybe we can move towards move fruits and vegetables in general and then work on the local and organic part. He also pointed out that it's hard to eat local foods in winter on the upper peninsula of Michigan for example.

For the second hour or so, they took questions from the audience. My favorite response came when someone asked what things bother them when they eat out. Ripert doesn't like being served spoiled food (can't really argue with that). Bourdain had more complaints. First on his list, the existence of Olive Garden. He shares my hatred of the "Italian" chain restaurant and suggested that it would be a lovely sight if they were all on fire. There was some great commentary about McDonalds too. Ripert kept referring to Ronald McDonald as "that evil clown," and Bourdain shared his favorite ways to trick kids into hating McDonalds (to counteract all those ads). One option is to convince them that Ronald is a child abductor. Also during this Q&A session, we learned that if Eric Ripert weren't a chef (of one of the best restaurants in the world), he wouldn't mind being a park ranger.