CNN’s Anthony Bourdain covers Adweek’s annual food issue this week. Our colleague Lisa Granatstein headed down to Chinatown for a sit-down chat and eat, where the chef-turned-author-turned-TV host opened up about all things food, including the directives, or lack thereof, from his CNN bosses: “Jeff Zucker is being totally awesome. Everything he’s ever said he was going to do for the shows, he’s done. I’ve never gotten a call from him or any of his people saying ‘Wouldn’t it be a great idea if?’ or ‘Jeff thinks that’ or ‘How about?’ None of that,” Bourdain says.
The networks are all eyeing content partnerships as an alternative source of revenue, including CNN parent Turner Broadcasting. Is that something you’re open to?
I have final approval on all this, so nobody is going to come in and say, “Oh, by the way, you’ll be drinking a Tsingtao in every scene,” or even occasionally. Honestly, it’s not my problem. I provide content. If you don’t want the content, that’s OK.
Would there ever be a case where you’d be open to it?
I could only think of one area where I might bend at this time on this. If we were flying to Hanoi, I get the front end of the plane, but my crew sits in the back. You’re telling me if we include a shot of Vietnam Air so that my crew gets to sit in the front—it’s a quick shot. I’m not pure in this regard, you know—that’s a long flight and some of them are tall [laughs]. But in general, no, I’m not. Look, it’s a food show, and when I look at the camera and I say, “This is really good,” I expect you to believe me. Now, I don’t drink the best beer in the world on the show. It’s a problem that comes up a lot actually. The angriest mail I get is from beer nerds—people who are craft beer enthusiasts and see me drinking a cold, available beer from a mass production and they get really cranky with me, and they assume that I’m plugging it or something. In fact, I just like cold beer, and my standards rise and fall depending on access to cold beer.
Much more here, including Bourdain’s thoughts on YouTube food stars, thoughts on whether he’d like his daughter to enter the food biz (“it’s a hard, hard, hard business. Harder for women.”) and Guy Fieri‘s Times Square restaurant (“It hurts me. It offends me.”)
(Photos: Robert Ascroft for Adweek)