Season 4, Episode 20
At the Table with Anthony Bourdain
Taking a break from the trials and tribulations of life on the road, Tony Bourdain has gathered some friends for a little rap session at famous NYC establishment, WD-50, headed by Chef Wylie Dufresne. Joining Tony around the table are celebrated writer Bill Buford, 'Nightlife Queen of New York' Amy Sacco, tv personality Ted Allen, and gossip columnist Chris Wilson. Let the games begin!After a brief meeting in the kitchen with Chef Dufresne, the group sits down to a glass of vigno cava, some searched hamachi tartare, and a round of good conversation. They debate the morality of charging $1800 for a sushi dinner for two and the pleasure and experience of a great meal being worth a child's college fund money. A beautiful plate of cured bonito and pickled daikon influences a deep discussion of the idea that, while New York City is an epicenter of food and culture, there are so many other ethnicities and countries that offer an abundance of gastronomic wonders that New York does not. Americans become obsessed with eating quickly and easily, which translates to corn syrup and saturated fats in a Styrofoam package, a far cry from the fresh vegetables and grilled meats on the streets of Singapore or India.Only Chef Dufresne would think-up a dish like busted foie gras terrine to please his guests, and it indulges Tony's guilty pleasure for foie gras. Which leads him to ask, "Is there a direct relationship between amount of shame and deliciousness?" Regaling the group with tales of his travels to Brazil, Bill Buford offers everyone a taste of fermented cacao beans, fermented by Bill himself. It's only after everyone has a bean in their mouth that he reveals how he stripped-off his clothing and entered the fermenting vat to fully absorb the experience. Wowed by Chef Dufresne's seared crab tail, the discussion turns to whether or not much of our enjoyment while in a fancy restaurant comes from knowing that somewhere there is someone sitting in a less-nice, less special establishment. New York City is a dog-eat-dog city and as diners, we have to exercise any type of advantage we might think we have in order to secure a spot in a coveted restaurant of choice. Is there a brighter future in store for the restaurant/culinary worlds? One can only hope. Especially Chef Dufresne - he has eight years left on his WD-50 lease!...Why don't more Americans know how, or choose to, cook? There simply isn't any time. And it doesn't help that New York City is designed to cater to the need not to cook - there are fifty restaurants with delivery service in any given five-block radius.At the end of the meal, over a plate of toasted coconut cake, Tony asks his famous question - "If you were given the electric chair tomorrow and it's all over for you, what is your last meal?" Comfort foods abound - fried chicken, mom's spaghetti and meatballs, bacon, macaroni and cheese, shake-and-bake pork chops, baby back ribs. Ted Allen says it best - "Nobody needs a hug more than New Yorkers."
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