Sunday, May 23, 2010

An Evening with Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert in Washington, D.C.

How often can you have the chance of getting up close and personal with celebrity chefs?  Well, international food celebs Anthony Bourdain & Eric Ripert hit the Warner Theatre stage—for one night only—on Friday, 21 May . . . and my friend Sandi and I had tickets!!!  It was 90 minutes of unscripted fun while both chefs were dishing behind-the-scenes stories, giving away kitchen tips, and talking about their travels and families . . . all with a fair amount of "smart-ass-ery". DC radio personality, MIX 107.3’s Tommy McFly, was the host in this "no-topic-off-limits show", which also included Q&A from the audience, and an exclusive "meet-and-greet" and book signing!

Sandi called me last weekend to ask me if I would be interested in buying tickets for this show at the Warner Theatre to see Anthony Bourdain (at the time we didn't know Eric Ripert came in the package, as well!).  So, I said "yes, of course!" and she got in charge of getting the tickets, which ended up being $84 a piece. Later on during the week I got on the Warner Theatre website and found a note that stated: "$89.00 ticket allows access to the post show meet and greet book signing".  I never got to comment this with Sandi and figured out that she had gotten discounted tickets! :)

Friday came around and I was very exhausted, since the night before we had to work on this important document, and ended up staying at the office until 4 a.m.!  However, I was more excited than tired!

Sandi had made reservations for "pre-teather" dinner at Ceiba restaurant—which we both love—and it's barely two blocks away from the office!  Got there at 5:30 p.m. and started out with Mojitos, followed by the waitress' appetizer recommendation, "Mexican Sushi", which we shared (photos courtesy of Sandi).

Our entrees were Sandi's "Pan Seared Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes" (served with Sweet Potato Hash, Yucca Crisp, and Jalapeño Aioli) and my "Grilled Free Range Chicken Breast" (served with Peruvian Fried Rice, Fried Quail Egg, Green Beans, and Huancaina and Aji Amarillo Sauces).  The food was simply delicious!


Earlier that afternoon I called the box office at the theater to find out if they were going to sell books—since they were having a book signing—but they wouldn't give me much information.  So Sandi and I decided to go accross the street from the restaurant (after dinner) to Borders to get our books.  My "wish list" already included "Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook", so—needless to say—this was the perfect excuse to get it and cross it out from the list!  I was lucky enough to get the last copy available on the shelf . . . and I wasn't particularly interested in getting Bourdain's other books.  Also, I hadn't planned—because of budgetary reasons—on getting any of Eric Ripert's books but, funny enough, when I read the reviews for Bourdain's Les Halles on the back cover, I found out that Eric Ripert had given him one!

OK . . . walked to the theater (two blocks away from Borders) and got there around 7:30 p.m.  Sandi was taking photos of the theater while we were waiting for the show to start at 8:00 p.m.







If you want to read about the theater's history, check this link

Even though there were moments when the sound system wasn't all that good, it was a very interesting show.  While most of the conversation was light, there were some serious and even poignant moments. Both chefs offered opinions on the foie gras controversy, pointing out that there is misinformation being circulated about the treatment of ducks/geese as they are sourced in the Hudson Valley, noting that “an unhappy animal yields bad food” and that they are advocates of humane treatment. Bourdain—who was caught in Beirut during unrest while filming one of his "No Reservations" episodes—was greeted by one of the US Marines that evacuated him, who presented a token from those troops.  Both men also shared their devotion to their families, although Anthony Bourdain joked about his temperamental Italian wife and how sometimes she wasn't very supportive of his cooking.  Talking of fast food, Eric Ripert admitted he had never actually eaten it. Bourdain and Ripert mentioned they both love The Rolling Stones.  Bourdain gave his opinion about the Arizona Law (against it).  Ripert mentioned he preferred to work for Public Television rather than the Food Network, and how he didn't have an opinion about Paula Deen (yikes!).  Bourdain offered this advice to an audience member about to embark on the opening of his first restaurant: “Figure out who you are, what you do best, and do it relentlessly.”  And Eric Ripert added that using good quality ingredients was also important.  He also mentioned he was returning to New York the next morning to cook for the Dalai Lama at his restaurant, Le Bernardin!  Here are more photos and the article that appeared the next day on The Washington Post.


Predictably Snarky but Likeable

Posted by livesaymt
May 22, 2010

Set on dark wicker patio furniture and white cushions with orange and fuschia accents, was much like a late-night talk show, with a likeable host keeping the momentum going with rapidfire questions. Bourdain, predictably, spoke quite a bit more than the heavily French-accented Ripert, and was trying a bit too hard to make things edgy. Topics included kitchen comparisons, chef ratings (Gordon Ramsey got harsh reviews from both), travel, and Tony's sensitivity (particularly with his daughter). Unfortunately, the microphones didn't capture the conversation clearly and the ushers loudly yelled "no cameras!" at the audience right over the interview questions(!). Overall, seemed a bit thrown together but a good night for true Bourdain fans.

When the show was over, we were expecting someone from the theater to say something about the "meet-and-greet", but we didn't hear a thing and started following people as they were leaving.  And then, all of a sudden, we noticed that there was a group of people going into the opposite direction within the theater and we started to follow them.  There was just one little detail that was worrying us:  all those people had a white wristband . . . and we didn't!  We talked to one of the security ladies and she told us that with our $89 ticket we should have gotten the wristband.  We told her that we had actually paid $84 for our tickets and hadn't gotten any wristband.  She asked us to wait and talked to another lady.  She then came back and told us to follow this other lady (from security, as well) and that we would have to talk to the person in charge once we got where the "meet-and-greet" was taking place.  So, after going up and down several flares of stairs, we got to this elegant and modern atrium, in a building adjacent to the theater.

And then we talked to the security lady in charge, who requested to see our tickets.  Sandi had only handed me my ticket as we were entering the theater that night, so I really never saw it before.  Besides, the print was really small and I didn't have my glasses on.  Well . . . to my dismay—and as the lady pointed out—the tickets were clearly priced $69!!!  At that moment Sandi and I realized that Ticketmaster had charged her an extra $15 for each ticket!  Of course, the security lady then said that we couldn't stay for the "meet-and-greet"!  I was feeling soooo disappointed!!!  Sandi started to walk away, and—on a whim—I  turned to the security lady once again and—in a very nice tone—asked her if there was any possibility for us to stay.  At first she hesitantly said no, but then she seemed to have second thoughts and finally told us "OK, you can stay".  My soul—literally—returned to my body!!!  We couldn't believe our luck, so we thanked this lady for her kindness!

We waited in line for approximately 45 minutes, but it was totally worth it!  We finally got to meet both Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert, shaked hands with them, had our books authographed and our photos taken with them.  Sandi was a little bit mad though . . . "I knew I shouldn't have given my camera to that security person", she said.  She was right.  Take a look at our photos! lol



When I got to Eric Ripert I told him that I hadn't been able to get one of his books, but that I had noticed that his review was on the back cover of Anthony Bourdain's book, and asked him if he wouldn't mind signing it, which he did!  He then turned to Anthony Bourdain and jokingly told him he didn't remember making that review for him! lol

And Anthony Bourdain asked me kind of surprised as he was getting ready to autograph my book:  "Susy with a Y?"  I just said "Yes" . . . :)


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