Culture

Anthony Bourdain Fears Rise in Snobbery 'Foodie' Culture

REUTERS/Danny Moloshok - RTSTQR

Always entertaining.

Anthony Bourdain spent decades in the restaurant industry, first as an executive chef before becoming a celebrity travel guide 16 years ago.

Over that time, he’s seen the American food industry change drastically for the better, but an uptick in snobbery is the other side of the double-edged sword, he said.

“I don’t need a 10-minute description of my food,” he told Business Insider earlier this year, ahead of Season 7 of his Emmy-winning CNN show “Parts Unknown.” It returned for its eighth season in September.

As for this emphasis on buzzwords like “artisanal” and “farm to table” and the ensuing descriptions about product sourcing, Bourdain said, “Look, it’s annoying but not the worst thing in the world. At least people are interested enough to want to know the details.”

He said he’s glad chefs want to emphasize fresh ingredients and that customers are savvy enough to embrace them, but he doesn’t want snobbery to overtake the restaurant scene to the point where no one is having fun.

“You can’t be a great food writer and a snob about food and just want fancy, expensive ingredients,” he said. “You have to appreciate the qualities of a properly greasy fast-food burger.”

This applies for the grocery store as well. He’s also sick of what can seem like people’s obsession with overpriced organic food.

“A couple years ago, I’m holding my daughter’s hand and I walk into the supermarket in my neighborhood — I live in the Upper East Side,” he said of grocery shopping in New York City. “We’re there to buy oranges and lemons, right? And there’s the organic produce and the nonorganic sections. And I automatically head over to the nonorganic and I look around and there are all these Upper East Side housewives looking at me like I’m a f—ing war criminal and they’re about to call child-protective services. It was so bad that I slump over to the organic section just so these ladies wouldn’t hate me.”

I may print this and take it with me the next time I’m buying produce. Maybe make copies and pass them out to anyone who gives a “look.”

The 10 minute food description cracked me up though. Lately, whenever I go to any decent restaurant, I usually cringe when they start to describe the specials, and almost always tune out for the “blah, blah, blah…balsamic, blah, blah…reduction, blah” part.

This is what makes Bourdain so fun to watch. He knows his stuff, but more importantly, it’s really all just about liking the food for him. In the end, the only thing that it is important for him to know is whether he’s enjoying the food or not.