Anthony Bourdain, a cooks friend

As I mentioned in a previous post, Houlihan’s in conjunction with the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts brought Anthony Bourdain to town for a presentation at the Midland Theatre and a reception at our Bristol’s Seafood Grill in downtown Kansas City. After an early evening media event for the local press Bourdain naturally ended up in the kitchen and actually had to be told three times that it was time to leave to do the show…..he’s a kitchen guy at heart and finds comfort hanging out on the line with the chefs and cooks, perhaps because the cooks don't ask questions about his Forbes listing, lifestyle habits or politics. He's always placed as much importance on who's cooking the food as the food itself, so he made a point of spending time with the cooks, signing their jackets, aprons, hats, etc. He remembers where he came from and has great respect for the cooks who drive the train.

We spent a little time talking shop, you know, the usual kitchen stuff; the ticketing system crashing on a Saturday night and sending the kitchen into a tailspin as everything becomes hand written. We talked about different kitchen layouts such as; Wylie Dufresne at wd50 in New York has as much space in the kitchen as the dining room. This is contrary to most kitchen designs because usually the goal is to squeeze as many seats out of a given space as possible. AB said that when he was at Les Halles in NY that the size of the dining room greatly expanded after his fame but the only edition to the kitchen was an extra fryer….pommes frites for everyone I guess.

The most interesting kitchen layout he’s ever seen is at Thomas Keller’s Per Se in New York. There is a huge empty space between the food pickup area and the dining room. This allows servers the opportunity to pick up food and “decompress”, to shed the hectic energy of the kitchen before entering the dining room, ensuring the stress stays in the kitchen. Keller also brought in a ballet instructor to teach servers the proper body movements that should exhibited when entering the dining room. Such attention to detail is incredible; it reminds me of when I toured the kitchen at Charlie Trotter’s In Chicago, the food pickup area has lighting set to the same lumen's as the dining room so that the chefs are looking at dishes the same way the customers see them.

Bourdain on the line with the cooks at Bristol's.

Myself and AB, damn he's tall.