Funny thing, but Y&H was supposed to serve as Anthony Bourdain‘s tour guide for this trip to Eamonn’s A Dublin Chipper in Old Town, a segment that ultimately didn’t make the cut for the recent D.C. episode of No Reservations. [Watch the deleted segment here.]
But by the time I was done showing Bourdain around the Eden Center and Abay Market, the host was toast, and I had to catch a ride to New York. After we had eaten as much raw beef as we could handle at Abay —- or as little in Bourdain’s case, since he wasn’t a fan —- the lead producer called me outside and said I was free to go. Tony was still wiped from the previous day’s shoot, the producer told me, and needed to get some shut-eye before heading to Eamonn’s. I have to admit, Bourdain did look pretty rough as he slouched his way outside and smoked a cigarette, a New York punk who still enjoyed a good bender a half century into life.
Regardless, my first reaction was to feel the sting of rejection. You see, the producers had put together a tight, ambitious schedule for the day, in which we would eat, drink, talk, and travel around Northern Virginia from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., hitting the Eden Center, Abay, and Eamonn’s. I was to play Bourdain’s monkey boy all day long—-until, that is, Dr. Feelgood got pooped and needed to take nappy-poo.
I should have viewed this as a gift from the producer, who knew I was stressing to make it to NYC before every decent restaurant closed for the night. But I didn’t. Somehow I twisted it into a rejection.
This is how TV producers handle it when they want to ease you out of the picture, I thought. I had failed Bourdain somehow, so they were creating this bullshit Tony-needs-a-rest ruse so they could continue on without me!
Sometimes, I have to admit, I bore myself with my self-obsession.
But it’s the truth. It’s how I viewed it back in July when we filmed the segment. Since the show debuted in January, just before the inauguration, I have received a lot of feedback on my minor role, much of it positive, some of it violently critical—-to the point where at least two people wrote online that they wanted to punch me in the face. (Rule No. 1 about being in the public eye: Don’t Google your name.) I got a strong taste of how personally people take Bourdain’s perspective on their corner of the culinary world—-and how little they understand how such shows are put together.
I hadn’t thought much about that day last July, at least not until I got an e-mail today from Meshelle Armstrong, wife of chef Cathal, the dynamic duo behind Eamonn’s, The Majestic, and Restaurant Eve. She was sending around the link to the deleted Eamonn’s segment (which apparently aired in the European and Asians editions of No Rez).
As I watched it, I felt some relief that I didn’t serve as tour guide there. First off, Bourdain didn’t need me. Cathal Armstrong can explain the place better than anyone (though I hope to God I could have concocted a better simile than saying Guinness tastes like “angels pissing on your tongue”). Second, it looked like Eamonn’s was stocked with ringers, including a fiddle player straight from Central Casting. It didn’t look like the semi-humble neighborhood chipper I knew it as.
Then again, maybe Bourdain could have used my help after all. I definitely would have saved him some embarrassment. I would prevented him from pronouncing Cathal’s name, “CATH-al.”
Photo by Jared Andrukanis/Zero Point Zero Productions