June 16, 2010 / 12:49 AM / 7 years ago

Chef Bourdain lifts lid on gastronomical revolution

NEW YORK, June 15 (Reuters Life!) - Author, chef and traveler Anthony Bourdain may no longer work in the kitchen but in his latest book he lifts the lid on the modern gastronomical revolution.

In his first book "Kitchen Confidential," which was released 10 years ago, he gave readers a back door into the culinary world. In "Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food" Bourdain explores the changes in the industry and his own life in the past decade.

"I'm the worst person to look to for a message. I'm a bad role model, a bad advocate. if anything the book is about mixed emotions," he said in an interview.

"(It is) a continuing argument with myself on a lot of issues ... coming to terms with how I've changed and how the restaurant industry that I wrote about in "Kitchen Confidential."

Since his first book became a hit, Bourdain quit the restaurant business, got divorced and remarried, worked on several TV shows and became a father.

But through it all, the now famous TV host of "No Reservations," a travel show that explores global culinary traditions, hasn't lost his edge.

In "Medium Raw," Bourdain's signature style and no-holds-barred attitude are as present as ever. He writes with frankness about some of the culinary world's top personalities, including Michelin star chef Alain Ducasse, Chez Panisse owner Alice Waters and critics Gayle Greene and Alan Richman.

He also has high praise for Jamie Oliver for convincing overweight people to eat better and chef David Chang, the owner of New York's Momofuku, who might be the most influential name in cooking today.

During a recent trip to Paris, he said Chang was a name that came up often.

"This is a huge shift - every young French chef I met in hot restaurants in Paris were talking about an American chef as a big influence or as somebody they admired. This is not something that you would have heard 10 years ago or even five years ago in France," he said.

"They were all talking about David Chang and deservedly. He changed the game with his menus, the way in which he serves fine dining, his attitude -- a remarkable force for good in the world of dining."

Bourdain said the book shows signs of his own growing pains. He is still conflicted about fame and labels himself a "sell out," but the man known for criticizing celebrity chefs has softened a bit on that subject.

"Even at its most annoying I think the celebrity chef phenomena is on balance a good thing for the world," he explained.

It's been almost 10 years since Bourdain has worked as a chef and as things stand, he has no plans to go back to the kitchen.

"I had 28 years of it. I'm in my 50s now. I don't delude myself now that I'd be good at it but I missed having cooked. I miss sitting at the bar after a busy night and that first cold beer, knowing that you did well, the adrenaline, the camaraderie."

On "No Reservations" Bourdain has visited dozens of countries. Production has come a long way and an episode filmed in Beirut in 2007, when the city was about to be bombed by Israeli war planes, was nominated for an Emmy Award

As for the future, Bourdain has no plans of quitting any time soon. And if he gets his wish -- a show in Cuba or even Iran -- an Emmy may just be in the cards.

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