by Malcolm Jolley
Anthony Bourdain is flanked by fellow food writers Laura Calder and Ivy Knight
Anthony Bourdain arrived in Toronto on September 21, a night ahead of his appearance at Massey Hall where he read from his latest book, Medium Raw. His Canadian publisher, HarperCollins, feted the chef turned writer (and TV personality) with a small party at the Drake Hotel, hosted by cook turned writer (and TV production worker) Ivy Knight. There to bask in His Bourdainness was a who’s who of both the city’s chef and food writing community. In attendance were Food Network stars Laura Calder, Kevin Brauch and David Rocco, as well as journalists Amy Rosen and Kim Honey, to name just a few. On the chef side, Cava’s Chris McDonald turned up (with loot bags from XocoCava), as well as Niagara Street Cafe’s Nick Liu, Ancaster’s Slow Food/Molecular pioneer Jeff Crump, The Stop’s Chris Brown, the Buddah Dog Andrews (MacKenzie and Hunter) and, just in from Vancouver on his own book tour, Vikram Vij. There were more. I’ve missed some but I have an excuse: I was completely star-struck and followed him around like a jumping puppy.
Anthony Bourdain checks out Vikram Vij's new book, 'Vij's At Home: Relax, Honey' written with wife Meeru Dhalwala and partly inspired by a visit from Bourdain.
Happily munching on Chef Anthony Rose’s suckling pig and foie gras sandwiches and drawing steadily on an ever present pint of Creemore (he adapts quickly to local custom, Bourdain), the man of the hour was the epitome of calm and cool. And friendly and funny and pretty much just like the character on his television shows and the narrative voice in his books. There are few things as pleasingly life affirming than finding out your hero is a decent guy. And there are few people writing about food in the English-speaking world at the level of Anthony Bourdain and among the crowd, the chefs played it way cooler than the writers (or maybe just me). Bourdain was a big inspiration for my decision to become a food writer, and I know for a fact that the same was true for a handful of the other scribblers there. But chefs and writers alike, we leaned in when when we had a chance to talk to the man, straining to listen and hanging onto every word. He hung out for an hour or two, said thanks and shook a few hands and headed out. When he left everyone looked very pleased to have been there, knowing they could now say “I had a beer with Anthony Bourdain”. Seriously: how cool is that?
Bourdain gave quick speech at the beginning of the party, the lion’s share of which I caught on the video below. Apologies for the poor lighting, but the audio’s clear and the man is good with his words.
Malcolm Jolley is the Managing Editor of Good Food Revolution and Executive Director of Good Food Media, the non-profit organization that publishes GFR. Follow him at twitter.com/malcolmjolley.
This video was made possible through the kind support of Fortessa Canada / Schott Zwiesel.