Anthony Bourdain says Montreal chefs should be declared 'national heroes'
Lois Abraham, The Canadian Press
Published Wednesday, November 2, 2016 12:10PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, November 3, 2016 10:49AM EDT
TORONTO -- Anthony Bourdain thinks so highly of three Montreal chefs he believes they should be declared national heroes.
The globe-trotting host of "Parts Unknown" visited Quebec while filming the first season of the show, where he ice fished with Frederic Morin and David McMillan, chef-owners of Joe Beef and Liverpool House restaurants, and trapped with Martin Picard, who owns Au Pied de Cochon.
"I'm a huge fan and loyalist and evangelical on the subject of Martin Picard and Fred and Dave at Joe Beef. I mean, I think they're not just good for Montreal. They're good for Canada. They're good for the world," the Emmy-winning television personality says.
"I'd put all three of those guys on the Canadian currency. If I were in charge of such things they would be national heroes. They'd be iconic figures. The Canadian version of Mount Rushmore would have those three guys up there and maybe Jen (Agg) from Black Hoof (in Toronto) also."
Bourdain was in Toronto this week to promote his 13th book, "Appetites: A Cookbook" (Ecco), co-authored with Laurie Woolever and featuring favourite family recipes.
Now 60, Bourdain writes that having a "normal" family lifestyle became top of mind after the birth of his daughter, Ariane, though he confesses it's been hard to wrap his head around what that means.
He's spent much time on the margins, working while most people played and playing while most people slept. Now he's on the road 250 days a year chronicling food and culture for his CNN program.
"This is a book that brings to bear 30 years as a professional to a relatively new situation where I'm cooking for a nine-year-old girl and her friends, using my organizational skills and controlling nature to try and show love for food," he explains.
Bourdain thinks it's important to teach children to cook and has included some of his daughter's favourite recipes in the book -- along with his characteristic profanity and rants.
"The sooner they start, the better. In a perfect world, all teenagers would already know how to feed themselves and a few friends, reasonably competently, a few basics, just to be good citizens of the world. Sadly that's not the case."
Bourdain has made sure his daughter knows her way around the kitchen, though he admits feeling anxiety in the process.
"My daughter loves to bake ratatouille because she loved that rat in the movie and she gets to use a knife, which fills me with terror but makes her very happy," he says, adding "I stand very, very, very close and I do my best to keep her out of harm's way."
Ariane is a big fan of pasta and particularly likes macaroni and cheese, but Bourdain says he doesn't glam up the dish for her with lobster or truffles.
"I think it's monstrous to try to improve on something perfect like mac and cheese, or hamburger. I mean, truffles might make it different. Do they make it better? No."
When it comes to school lunches, Ariane isn't getting a peanut butter and jelly sandwich every day.
"We have a little bit of a game going on where I try not to repeat myself. If I'm home for two weeks I'll try to do something different every day to send her to school with," he says.
"I want her to like it, but at the same time if I could freak out the other kids, I want them to feel envious and confused and go home and make their parents feel bad about what they're putting in their lunch boxes.... Whatever she'll express an interest in I'm going to try that."
Bourdain, who lives in New York, says much attention was paid to the book's photography and graphics. The colourful cover art was done by Ralph Steadman, known for his illustrations of Hunter S. Thompson's cover of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas."
The very first image inside the book is a full-page photo of a dead, plucked chicken with its head dangling off a chopping board.
"We gave the photographer, Bobby Fisher, pretty much licence to kill. All the other things that no other author would let him do, we said: 'do that,"' Bourdain says.
Some of the other edgy, unconventional photos show messy work spaces and partially consumed dishes.
"I love anything that's half eaten or real food, spillage, all that stuff."