I have never been a hermit. I love being out and about exploring new things. Ever since I can remember my parents would take me everywhere! I remember random weekend road trips where we would just hit the road, no plans in place. Seriously, I have seen so much of my own state and beyond thanks to them. It amazes me that some people have never been up the coast or to one of our most famous national parks. I look at pictures of me from when I was a kid taken in San Francisco, Hawaii, Big Bear, Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, etc., and I realize how lucky I am. An interesting note? Ever since I can remember, I’ve been photographing my food. Yes. Once upon a time, I shot film, before going digital. my first digital camera was 2.0 megapixels, and thought I was so awesome. Look at me now!
I’m not big on celebrities and I don’t get starstruck, but Anthony Bourdain is one of my idols. He first came into my life after high school. Must have been 18 going on 19 and there was a show on TV called A Cook’s Tour. I was obsessed with it. Who was this guy! He was so awesome! The most memorable episode would have to be when he went to the French Laundry. That was the first time I had heard about it. It must have been 2002ish when I got my first glimpse of TK on this show. One day I will eat at the French Laundry…after all its on my list. I pass by it every time I make my way to Bouchon Bakery in Yountville and am obsessed with the French Laundry garden. One of the most wonderful moments I have ever witnessed is seeing the French Laundry staff sitting in the garden for their staff meeting. Wonderful stuff right there.
I often quote Anthony Bourdain. One of my all time favorites is the following:
Context and memory play powerful roles in all the truly great meals in one’s life.
I completely agree. Great company, great service, great conversation make a big difference when it comes to meals. I think we talked about this the night of the big cupcake tasting. The cupcakes tasted amazing to us that night, and perhaps the fact that we were in such great company added to the experience. The same goes for my birthday last year. Yeah, the food was good, but that night will always be so memorable because of who I was with.
Another quote and mantra that I take from Anthony Bourdain is: be a traveler, not a tourist. I completely agree. Often when we travel we don’t have an itinerary. When I went to Vancouver for the Olympics, we planned that completely last minute without a schedule in mind. Instead we arrived and let the city and Olympic spirit come over us. That’s the way we have always traveled. Off the beaten path. Staying away from tourist traps. Hit the road. See the world. Lately, life is about experiences and taking advantage of opportunities.
I knew that Anthony Bourdain was on a speaking tour and would be at UCLA, but I didn’t get tickets. Thinking all hope was lost, I had just put it out of my mind. I went to about 4 concerts this month anyway. Then, I was in Bakersfield for my cousin’s wedding two weeks ago and as we passed by the Fox Theater I saw a sign advertising Anthony Bourdain. Whut? In Bakersfield? This was NOT listed on Ticketmaster when I checked! Needless to say, as soon as I got home I bought tickets directly from the Fox Theater website. Luckily I scored tix in the 11th row, center. The Fox Theater is fairly intimate, and I thought this was a great setting to meet my idol and a man that had helped shape my philosophy on life, food, and travel.
We started off with a quick pre-show dinner at Moo Creamery, which was ironic because as we were getting our seats, the owners walked into the theater. They had come straight from dinner service at their restaurant. The chef from Valentien was front row, center. As I walked around the lobby I totally fell in love with this theater. It has an old time feel to it. And that’s when I saw it. A poster advertising Blue October. I love their music so much that “Calling You” has been my ringtone ever since I first got my iPhone. It was definitely a sign that I needed to buy a ticket for that show, so I did the next day. See you in September, Fox Theater!
As we waited for the show to start, the soundtrack that was playing was VERY Anthony Bourdain, and we later found out he picks the playlist. Soon, right on time, the man of the hour took the stage and was met with applause of course. One of the first things he said was ”Ok, let’s get it out of the way, no Rachel Ray jokes!” which of course was hilarious. He then got into a Sandra Lee story and talked about various Food Network personalities. No one was spared, except maybe Ina Garten, but we all agree she is awesome anyway.
Soon he started talking about his family and life with his daughter. He said that he took her to Europe and that she already had plenty of stamps on her passport. He talked about how he’s trying to expose his daughter to various foods even from a young age.
He talked about being open to eating street food, because often times it is the best. This is something that I also do a lot. Maybe too much. I would like to say that some of the food I have eaten from street vendors has been the best I’ve ever had and Anthony Bourdain made a very good point. There is something about that connection between the person cooking your food and handing it to you. No middle man. I agree. I can eat at table cloth restaurants and I can eat standing up on some rundown street corner. I’m an equal opportunity food explorer.
After he had talked for a bit (there was never a dull moment) he opened up the floor to questions and two lines formed. I was amazed the lines weren’t that long and I was temped to go ask or say something to my idol. However I was right in the middle and getting to the microphone was going to prove to be a hassle. Next time. He was asked about his favorite countries to visit, his favorite places to travel with his family, countries that had surprised him, and more.
This was one of the best experiences of my life. You know what I said about 2010 right? Well this totally fit the description. This was a conversation with friends. He wasn’t smug or stuck up, he was himself. He was Anthony Bourdain! Sometimes when you meet your idol you are left disappointed, but in this case I walked away with a deeper appreciation for this man and the impact he has had in my life.
Thank you Anthony Bourdain. You changed my life. Trust.