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By and large, the No Reservations gabfest on Friday at the Warner Theatre was what you’d expect: Anthony Bourdain railing against vegetarians and industrial ag, and Eric Ripert defending Wolfgang Puck and the future of fine dining.
But the most unpredictable moment came when host, Tommy McFly from Mix 107.3 FM, asked the celebrity chefs/TV personalities what they thought of some of their peers. The first few names McFly dropped drew some funny, if uncontroversial, responses from Bourdain and Ripert.
Paula Dean: “I have nothing to say,” Ripert says. “Seriously.” Bourdain: “My feeling is, as long as she sleeps with the Southern cooking, I’m OK with it. I never want to see her doing a luau again. I certainly never want to see her licking chocolate off a chocolate fountain…It’s really disturbing.”
Wolfgang Puck: “He’s a great professional, a great chef,” says Ripert. Bourdain compared Puck to Orson Welles: “It really doesn’t matter if he did wine commercials or opened pizzerias in airports or whatever he does. The fact is, he still made Citizen Kane.” One presumes Spago is Puck’s Citizen Kane.
Rachael Ray: “I like Rachael Ray,” says Ripert. Bourdain said he wouldn’t dis on Ray because, “first of all, it’s low-hanging fruit. Second, she sent me a fruit basket.” Third, added the punk-loving New Yorker, Ray booked the New York Dolls last year for her SXSW party.
Then McFly asked about Gordon Ramsay, which set off the mild-mannered Ripert:
“I’m not happy at all with him. I don’t like what he’s doing on TV…He’s a very smart man, great pride. He’s a very good cook,” says Ripert. “However, what he’s doing on TV is a crime because he’s hitting people…He’s humiliating them. I don’t know what kind of inspiration is that for the young. I think we have to be inspirational…”
Photo by christyxcore via Flickr Creative Commons, Attribution License