A sold out crowd packed into Symphony hall Friday night to hear culinary and television personalities Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert discuss anything and everything for Good vs. Evil, an event showcasing the two culinary stars. The only question left unanswered at the end of the two-hour-long talk was what New York restaurant gave Eric Ripert food poisoning for the last two weeks (Ripert refused to identify the eatery).
Bourdain dominated the conversation, as he is more verbose than the demure Ripert, but we did learn that Chef Ripert was not always the mellow Buddhist we see today. Ripert consented to following the French “Old School” of chefs early in his career, screaming at underlings and even throwing plates. In his current repentant state, “The Ripper” made his opinions about British screamer/chef Gordon Ramsay, asking the audience how many people like being humiliated (especially on television), and professed that abuse is not the way to lead a group.
Anthony Bourdain, on the other hand, was ready to offend anyone he could get his hands on, as per the usual. In his hilarious, curse-ridden diatribes, Bourdain lampooned vegetarians, saying (well, screaming) that if someone presents you with a part of their culture, rejecting it is rude. By drawing on his “Grandma Rule,” Bourdain compared it to eating grandma’s dry Thanksgiving turkey because you’re in her house. The same is true, he said, as when he politely ate wild boar anus with a tribe in Africa, to which Ripert responded, “I still think that tribe was [messing] with you.”
The chefs also touched on the important current culinary issues, such as the term “farm-to-table,” which they lamented makes no sense — where else will it come from, and where else will you eat it? Bourdain continued his knows rivalry with GQ restaurant critic Alan Richman, whom Ripert considers a good friend. Other topics included the unknown identity of Ruth Bourdain and Tony’s appearance as “Dr. Tony” on Yo Gabba Gabba.
Many members of the audience were curious to know about Bourdain’s eating habits while under the influence of certain…substances. He declared his love for KFC mac ‘n cheese, though he has to buy it in disguise, so as not the attract the attention of any food bloggers. He went on to explain that he keeps his daughter away from McDonald’s by suggesting that Ronald may be involved with some recent child disappearances. The two chefs also mentioned their affection for Food Network’s Guy Fieri, in one of the most unlikely friendships in the culinary world.
Alas, Bourdain and Ripert dodged invitations to hang out after the show (one audience member declared that they had “weed and wine,” so Bourdain should join in). Bourdain said that he was leaving Saturday morning to film in Cuba for No Reservations. The event was entertaining and poignant the whole way through and it was worth it just to hear Ripert repeat Bourdain’s curse words. Though no food was served, the two chefs left the crowd satisfied, while still begging for seconds.