BOURDAIN: Absolutely not. Contrary to what the publisher
told me, I had no clue it would be a bestseller. I had no idea it
would sell beyond the New York area, let alone be published in
20-some-odd languages and be sold in bookstores around the world. I
mean, I was a guy who had never paid his rent on time. Now I have
success and a new career in writing and a TV show. It can be pretty
AMERICAN WAY: Last year's reality TV show The
Restaurant seemed to be inspired by your book.
BOURDAIN: Before my book, what you saw on TV was nothing but
happy chefs. What I did was write an Inside Baseball for the
restaurant business. It tapped unexpectedly into a whole group of
people who wanted to see what goes on behind the kitchen door.
AMERICAN WAY: Chefs are notorious for their egos, yet
you write of sitting down to eat with other chefs all the time.
What happens when you get together?
BOURDAIN: It's a love fest. We're all lucky guys who got
where we got through hard work and luck. No one will believe it,
but there's very little artifice. There are few chefs who aren't
really modest in private. We're very driven and have to make quick
decisions in the kitchen, which is how chefs get a reputation for
ego. But I can't tell you how many times I've talked to a great
chef and he's said, "I'm just a peasant." The sad truth is that at
the end of a long day in the kitchen, if you get a bunch of chefs
together, all we want to do is talk about cooking, about what to
eat, and about food and drink.
AMERICAN WAY: Is there anyone among that bunch who
BOURDAIN: Mario Batali. He's the most positive example of
the celebrity chef.
AMERICAN WAY: What's he like?