Food & Drink

Anthony Bourdain & Eric Ripert On Chains, Fast Food, In-N-Out, Sustainable Seafood, Tainted Food Punishment & More

A few months ago we sat down with Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert at Sirius Radio on the occasion of a "Turn and Burn" taping, their co-hosted series on Martha Stewart's Sirius radio station. After some technical hurdles with our footage we can finally present you their incomparable takes on things like:

  • Chain restaurants
  • Fast-food and In-N-Out
  • Sustainable seafood and chefs' responsibilities
  • Tainted food, massive recalls, and appropriate penalties
  • Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign
  • Roll the tape:

    Is it possible for chain restaurant to serve nutritious, environmentally responsible food? Is it possible to get the costs benefit of economy of scale with a cloned restaurant that still doesn't poison consumers or the earth? And Bourdain explains to Ripert the many virtues of In-N-Out Burger.


  • "The Cheesecake Factory's not that bad."

* * *

What role do chefs play in driving down demand for bluefin tuna and other overfished species, and what are the long-term responsibilities for chefs to promote sustainable seafood eating and fishing practices?

Ripert: "At the end of our menu, when you flip to the last page, we have a list of fish that are highly endangered, just as information. What we don't want to do is to lecture people. You don't come to the restaurant to be lectured, you come to enjoy an experience, but we still feel we have to be responsible. And the more information we gather, the more I know, the more I try to be helpful to, basically, save the planet. One little step by little step, if I can be part of a huge momvement that can have power to go after the government and go after the gigangitc fisheries and do something, I'm there."

Bourdain: "I'm conflicted. I really am, I mean on one side I have strong libertarian instincts, stronger still sort of sensualist instincts. I'm a hypocrite in the best and worst sense of the word. I'm aware of the problem, I have no problem on one hand advocating against fast food and being a snob about a lot of things, and on the other, if somebody's going to get the last piece of bluefin toro meat in the world, I guess I'm the best candidate."

Ripert: "You're burning in hell."

Bourdain: "I'm aware, and I'm trying to leave as little wake as possible. I'm becoming more conscientous, I think I instincitively understand that I'm the wrong person to be an advocate... pleasure first."

"But I think there's a lot of overlap -- factory farming, things like that. I think that interests converge, even my interests converge with sort of the itnerests of a good and responsible society -- that might be an accident. "

Ripert: "Factory farming's evil, you know that."

Bourdain: "I know, and I'm not -- it's not like I'm eating American eagle on the show or anything like that. I've made a conscious deicison, I'm not going to eat something on the show for sheer novelty value, you know. No more wacking of armadillos just because it's going to make good TV. Unless it is an essential part of the everyday diet of the culture, I'm not going there anymore. The carnival geek phase of my life is over.

* * *

How should an American restauranteur who illegally serves whale meat be penalized, versus the head of a company selling tainted food?

Bourdain: "I think there are certain food situations where the pillory would not be inappropriate. Bring them back, strap the motherfucker to a post, and allow the outraged citizenry a reasonable period of time to throw feces and other unattaractive usbtances at them. We'll all feel better. I tsends a powerful message. next E coli outbreak related to ammonia soaked meat scraps. Find somebody, just strap them to a pile and throw their own product at them, for a certain period of time."

* * *

How do you feel about Michelle Obama's 'Let's Move' Efforts?

Bourdain: "Even if you're a completely heartless bastard with no social conscious whatsoever, the costs [of childhood obesity] are abominable, the destructive effect on society. Something's clearly wrong. I'm happy she's in the White House to start with and I'm happy with what she's saying."