Anthony Bourdain is a busy man. Over the last few months, the chef, author and TV personality has visited Spain, Peru, Congo, Libya, Morocco and Myanmar for his CNN show “Parts Unknown,” which debuted April 14. He’s served as head judge of ABC’s cooking show “The Taste,” voiced a bastard chef on FX’s intergalactic animated comedy “Archer,” penned “Get JIRO!” a New York Times-bestselling graphic novel and kickstarted his own foodcentric publishing line via Ecco Press.
Do we really need to mention the Emmy-winning Travel Channel show “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations,” which ran from 2005-’12? Or the now-classic books — “Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly,” “A Cook’s Tour: In Search of the Perfect Meal,” “The Nasty Bits” — that redefined America’s relationship with the culinary arts? If you like good food, strong drink, scathing sarcasm and foul language, Anthony Bourdain is your man.
But since we couldn’t track Bourdain down for an interview in advance of his “Guts & Glory” speaking tour, we dreamed up a fictional Jacksonville episode of his Travel Channel show “The Layover,” which spends 36-48 whirlwind hours eating, drinking and savoring the tastiest side of various worldwide cities. These are real quotations from Bourdain conjoined randomly to some of our fair city’s landmark local eateries. So don’t get too pissy about the details — if we actually got the man on the record about some of these places, it’d probably hurt a lot worse.
6:47 p.m. April 25, 13 Gypsies, Riverside
“You’ve gotta be a fucking freak to aspire to better than mediocre. People want mediocre. People buy that Parmesan in that little shaker because that’s what they want. If you gave them the real thing, they wouldn’t recognize it. They might even punish you for it.”
9:13 p.m. April 25, Orsay, Riverside
“The whole template for the restaurant business pretty much demands [compromise] from the very beginning. From the minute you’re building your place, you’re compromising all the way. The conventional wisdom tells you that to run a restaurant any other way is insanity. The numbers are stacked against you even if you do everything right, and God help you if you try to do something new or audacious.”
4:06 p.m. April 26, Checker BBQ & Seafood, San Marco
“The South is a cauldron of food. A lot of things that are missing from American food are completely front and center in the South. Chances are, any food you would identify as truly American, if it didn’t come directly from Europe, it started in the South.”
8:59 p.m. April 26, The Potter’s House Soul Food Bistro, Westside
“Food can be a vessel for ‘love’ or contain the ‘soul’ of the cook who prepared it. You hear this all the time on shows like ‘Top Chef.’ A chef will claim to cook with 'love’ (a proclamation that I, as a judge, often found worrying, summoning, as it did, possibilities that the contestant had rubbed his knob around in the sauce). Again and again in food writing, we find simple dishes like boiled chicken or steamed root vegetables described as ‘soulful’ — the practitioner said to be cooking with ‘heart’ — to the point where the designation is nearly meaningless.”
10:22 p.m. April 26, Maza New American Cuisine, Atlantic Beach
“There are actually people who come rolling out of culinary school who don’t see the Hilton or a cruise ship or a country club as a fantastic gig and understand that if they wanna be great, then they have to … go work for the best. Do what I didn’t do. Acknowledge the fact that you’re not going to make any money at all, you’re not going to get paid for two years, and go to Spain. … That’s a fucking awesome start.”
1:34 a.m. April 27, Third Street Diner, South Jax Beach
“My diner memories were filled with delicious experiences. To me, the diner was a wonderland of food and also a reflection of the Greekification of the country. It was perfect if you were drunk or stoned, it was 1 a.m., and you were with your friends.”
2:11 p.m. April 28, Blue Bamboo, Southside
“Chefs know that no matter how hard they try, no matter what they do, they will NEVER create a sauce better than the hot goo that comes squirting out of a prawn’s head after a short time on a griddle.”
5:06 p.m. April 28, The French Pantry, Baymeadows
“I like food. And I like sex. But I don’t want them together. Ever. People who describe having ‘foodgasms’ on dining websites create a picture in my mind of a tragically obese person, fingering themselves in front of a laptop with one hand while mashing the tiny keys with the greasy, oversized fingers of the other. Watching someone have an orgasm can be interesting. A ‘foodgasm’? Not attractive even in the best of circumstances. Anyone who coos enthusiastically about chocolate cake and raspberry sauce in bed gives new meaning to rolling over into the wet spot.”