Bourdain on the brain

Last week’s issue of The Onion had an interview with the bad boy of the kitchen, Anthony Bourdain. An interesting interview, though learned nothing new about this bawdy chef. I mentioned the article to a friend who reminded me of a story Anthony had written about in his book, “A Cook’s Tour,” when he was served iguana in Mexico and exclaimed it to be one of the worse things he had ever eaten (the warthog anus had yet to be consumed). He was not particularly looking forward to eating iguana (it is something the indigenous people eat when there is absolutely nothing else) however, he finally broke down and ordered it at the hotel restaurant. Unfortunately, the only iguana to be found in the vicinity was the hotel mascot. The hotel owner then killed his pet ten year old iguana (“Look! He is ready! He wants to die!”) in order to satiate Anthony. The undercooked reptile was said to taste like the bottom of an old aquarium. Or something like that.

Because of recalling this story, later that night I had a dream that I was hunting lizards, which turned out to be dinosaurs, which turned out to be poisonous-to-the-touch dinosaurs – in the air (in the form of pterodactyls), land (brontosauruses, t-rexs, et all) and sea (whales, of all things). In my dream I knew if I killed them, they’d become extinct. But if they ever got to me first, I’d be dead meat as well.

The next morning after mulling over the meaning of the dream (coming to no real conclusion), I got to thinking about Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch list and what a great service this is to conscientious seafood lovers. Who knew that the Patagonian Toothfish (also known as the Chilean Seabass) was on the “do not eat” list, as well as Monkfish, Orange Roughy and Red Snapper?

Which brings me to my friend Michael, executive chef and partner at the newly opened Yankee Pier in Lafayette. The Seafood Watch list dictates what he does not serve – not a Toothfish in sight on the menu. The Seafood Watch Restaurant Program ensures sustainable seafood – that participating restaurants are committed to supporting environmentally responsible fishing and fish farming. While I’m not sure if the other Yankee Piers in the Lark Creek family adhere to this program, I’m glad Michael’s does (and from the wait-an-hour-for-a-table line, so are a lot of other people). Not only is he a great cook, he is driven as only a chef can be (100 work weeks could kill anyone else), and he is responsible for helping to educate his customers, not to mention he’s also a genuinely super-nice, perpetually jovial, soft-spoken guy in a seemingly age of temperamental, raunchy, loud-mouth chefs. Ostensibly, the antithesis of Bourdain.

Another gfork thought process comes full circle.

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