Anthony Bourdain Says Low End, Andrew Zimmern Feels Otherwise
As an LA Foodie, I’m beyond peeved when people put down my town as being nothing more than burgers and fast food. This happened pretty publicly a couple of years ago when Anthony Bourdain was in town promoting his new book at the time, Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook. I saw him speak at UCLA and take questions at the end. When asked what he likes to eat when in LA, he waxed poetic about how he loves LA for its “strip mall food” and for In-N-Out. Now, don’t get me wrong … I, too, love In-N-Out. But Tony’s take on our dining scene left me aghast. Does he really think that’s all we have to offer? I’d wondered if he’d really eaten here in LA over the last 10 years.
Fast forward to today. A few days back, I ran into Bizarre Foods’ Andrew Zimmern at Ink, totally serendipitously. Very fun to see him filming there for his upcoming new show, Bizarre Foods America. I knew he had a Pop Up Dinner coming up and, in fact, had just bought my tickets for it earlier that same day. He was very gracious and said he was looking forward to having me at the dinner.
I then saw him tweet about how he’s so tired of people putting down LA’s dining scene, to which I replied:
While Bourdain is, unfortunately, not alone in his attitude, I point him out because he is so vocal, consistent and influential. Even in his latest show, The Layover, about San Francisco, he felt it important to say in its opening that LA is the “King of the Low End”.
So, at Andrew’s Pop Up last nite, I felt it was important to ask him about his feelings about LA and its food scene. Since he was in the middle of dinner service, he didn’t have much time, but you can clearly see how he feels:
As her interview highlighted, he feels (and I agree!) that LA people want to know where their food is sourced from and that “LA isn’t the place where an unsuccessful meal or dish are necessarily taken with a grain of salt by the diner.” Personally, I think that sometimes people outside LA perceive us as being “laid back” just because many of us may wear jeans over suits, or appreciate the surf and sun. While we may look relaxed, however, there’s often a hard-driving, success-oriented persona beneath … and I think many of the standards that we have for pursuing success filter into our desires and expectations when dining out.
In LAist’s interview, you can see how obviously passionate Andrew is about LA, saying Angelenos, specifically savvy food-loving Angelenos, also get offended … if it’s not TV getting it wrong, it’s the magazines, the food critics, the dismissive L.A.-hatin’ hand-wavers who are helping make how great L.A.’s food scene is one of the world’s biggest secrets. As well as …
I’ve been eating here 40 years, and there was a time when it was very myopic, there was a time when it was way too pretentious and self-involved, there was a time when it was all about Mediterranean food and it didn’t do it as well as some other cities, but … several things happened over the last ten, fifteen years that have created a food town that is second to none, globally. I don’t know how you can make the case that the L.A. food scene isn’t mind-bogglingly spectacular these days.
Thank you, Andrew, for helping to give LA Foodies a more visible way to showcase our city’s dining prowess. I completely agree that the last 10 – 15 years here have been pivotal to making LA a truly world-class food community and dining venue. And it’s well past time for the many naysayers (Anthony) to catch up.