Like oil and vinegar.
Shake’em up and they mix well; but on their own, they’re separate and equally strong.
And so it was Saturday night at the Kentucky Center, when Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert filled the 2,377 seat theater to near capacity. Stuffed into the narrow chairs like the foie gras the duo debated in the show, thousands of would-be foodies and chefs alike sat on the edge of their seats to absorb kitchen philosophy.
Or was it in an effort to hear and understand Ripert?
With his French accent lilting his speech, the audience was hanging on his every word—mostly so they could catch what pearls of wisdom he was spouting. Would it have been so difficult to turn up the mic on this mild-mannered and soft-spoken man?
Bourdain did not struggle with the same challenge; the audience heard his laments over the manners of vegetarians and dinner guests, his diatribes ironically peppered with f-bombs and other such spicy speech, just fine.
The pair started the evening with Bourdain grilling Ripert (unfortunately pronounced on the pre-show announcement as Rip-ert, instead of Ree-pair) on the cooking practices and hefty prices of his French restaurant in New York City, Le Bernardin.
While the repartee may have been rehearsed and routine for the two, it was most definitely entertaining for the audience, who laughed and listened attentively for 40 minutes.
But then it was Bourdain’s turn in the hot seat, and he did not disappoint. It seemed no topic was off-limits as Bourdain expounded on his travel, his drug use, and his honest and blunt assessment of many other celebrity personalities, including Martha Stewart, Guy Fieri and Paula Deen’s recent announcement (she has struggled with diabetes in secret for the last three years).
The pair ended the evening with a short question and answer period, highlighted by Bourdain’s reply when asked to comment on the Louisvillian restaurant scene. While prefacing his answer by admitting his extremely limited time in the city, he was highly complimentary of the pasta dish he had been served from Proof on Main. The loud and elated reaction from the back of the house was explained a moment later when a member of the crowd yelled, “I cooked it for you!”
So where does the “Good Vs. Evil” of the show’s title come in? Just about everywhere.
Where Ripert is reserved, Bourdain is callous. Where Ripert cooks for the elite, Bourdain gets down and dirty. Where Ripert extols the merits of using only the best ingredients, Bourdain agrees in theory, but knows that when it comes down to it, some folks are always going to go for the Popeye’s chicken, because it’s, “three pieces for a dollar-[expletive]-ninety-nine!”
Then how does this seemingly contradictory alliance work?
In no small part because of what Anthony Bourdain said in reference to his friendship with conservative Ted Nugent, “I don’t have to agree with you to like you or respect you.”
Preach it, Chef.
Image: Courtesy TandemAgency.com