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June 19, 2024

Sharing a Beer with Anthony Bourdain

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If you ever watched Chef Anthony Bourdain eating his way around the world in one of his hit TV shows like No Reservations or Parts Unknown, you understand why he was known for his genuineness, wit, and love for food and the people he shared it with.

As Anthony Bourdain Day (June 25th) approaches, we offer this reminiscence of Chef Bourdain from our Culinary Director, Brandon Roddy. Owl bar, Sundance, Utah restaurant, Utah Sundance, fine dining in Utah, Sundance restaurant, Chef Bourdain, Anthony Bourdain, wood chairs, bar, bottles, bar back

Back in 2010, the two chefs met when Bourdain visited Utah’s Sundance ski resort. Brandon was Sundance’s Purchasing Director at the time, and he was able to share an evening of beers and discussion with the icon himself, Anthony Bourdain.

Here’s the story of that memorable encounter, some thoughts about Chef Bourdain’s legacy, and a few ideas for ways you can celebrate Anthony Bourdain Day (plus a recipe for one of his favorite dishes).

As Chef Brandon Remembers It

“Chef Bourdain came into the kitchen and greeted all the cooks and chefs. He chatted with everyone, and then he invited us to join him later for drinks. That evening, my wife and I sat at the Owl Bar drinking beers and visiting with Anthony Bourdain. He asked us all about our lives and careers, and he was very interested in what we had to say. It didn’t feel like being around a celebrity. He was very down to earth, unpretentious, and funny. He talked about what really mattered to him. Mostly what he talked about was his family.

“We went on visiting and drinking for several hours, but he wasn’t in a hurry to finish or to be somewhere else. His whole philosophy about taking time to be with people and eat or drink together—that’s not made up. He really lived that way. You could see how much he loved meeting new people and trying new things. I don’t know what his politics were—he probably had different philosophies and beliefs from a lot of the people in that room—but it didn’t matter to him. He knew how to value other people and enjoy their company. For him, food was a way to connect and embrace life.”

That’s an ethic that we at Culinary Crafts fully endorse!

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The Ethic of Hospitality

The food industry is a lot of different things for different people, but for us it’s all about true hospitality.

The ethic of hospitality reaches back as far as civilization itself. In fact, in many cultures and religions (including Islam, Christianity, and Judaism), the practice of hospitality became a tell-tale sign that someone was civilized. Strangers and foreigners were owed food, drink, safety, and shelter without being made to feel that they were a burden on their hosts. It was seen as a great honor for hosts to offer their very best to a guest, the same as if God had shown up on your doorstep in the guise of a stranger.

Nearly all major religions espouse some version of the Golden Rule, “Treat other people the way you would want to be treated,” and Anthony Bourdain truly treated others the way we all want to be treated. He would meet people where they were, share a meal with them, and find what was admirable and good about them. He took the time to listen. Whether he was a guest in some foreign country or hosting a get-together in his own home, Chef Bourdain embraced the opportunity to connect with other people. He had a reputation for trying anything (from six-month-long fermented shark to fried rice with maggots to a warthog rectum in Namibia). And even when the food was disgusting, he was gracious towards those who offered it to him.

Well, that’s not entirely true. He had no patience for the makers of food who put no effort into what they serve. Food and drink prepared with little thought or care was an insult to him. He was bothered by any lost opportunity for joy and connection.

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Ideas for Anthony Bourdain Day

There are many ways we can all benefit from Chef Bourdain’s spirit of hospitality and joie de vivre. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Reach out to someone who may be struggling and share a meal with them. Spend the time to really get to know them better.
  • Watch a Bourdain documentary, preferably with someone else.
  • Learn about someplace new, starting with the local food. If you can, plan a food-centric trip to go there.
  • Support a local eatery you’ve never tried. Order a dish they’re proud of.
  • Share a recipe or food story of your own.
  • Have a conversation with someone who’s different from you. Focus on listening and appreciating them rather than arguing.
  • Cook and share one of Chef Bourdain’s favorite recipes. Here’s a variation on the easy-to-make French classic, rillettes (pronounced “ruh-lets”). Once you’ve tried this divine treat on toast (maybe with cornichon and a little Dijon mustard), you’ll want to share it with everyone you know!
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Rillettes

Adapted from Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook
 

Ingredients

  • 1 lb pork belly, bones removed, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • ½ lb pork shoulder (a/k/a Boston butt), bones removed, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 bouquet garni (i.e. 1 sprig of parsley, 2 sprigs of thyme, and 1 leaf of bay, bundled together in cheesecloth
  • and tied with a string)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • pinch of black pepper
  • ½ lb pork fat, cut into thin slices

Equipment

  • large, heavy-bottomed pot
  • mixing bowl
  • 2 forks
  • several small plastic or glass containers
  • plastic wrap

Instructions

  1. In the pot, cook the water, pork belly, shoulder, and bouquet garni over low heat, stirring occasionally for six hours.
  2. Remove from heat, discard the bouquet garni, and add the salt and pepper. Remove the meat and allow it to cool in the mixing bowl. (Save that liquid!)
  3. Use forks to shred the meat gently. You should still be able to see the meat’s fibers. Add back a little of the liquid if needed to reach a thick paste consistency.
  4. Divide the mixture into your small containers. Top each portion with enough slices of pork fat to cover the portion. Fold the mixture together in each container, then cover the containers with plastic wrap.
  5. Refrigerate the covered containers for 3 days.
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Serving Ideas

Allow rillettes to warm to room temperature before serving. Traditionally, rillettes are enjoyed as a spread on toast, crostini, baguettes, or crackers, often with mustard, pickled onions, or cornichons. Set out a jar of rillettes as part of a charcuterie board or lunch spread and watch guests gravitate to it.

Rillettes are also great with cheeses or hard-boiled eggs, in a sandwich, or used to liven up a green salad. But the main serving suggestion for rillettes—as we learned from Chef Bourdain—is to enjoy them with someone else, preferably accompanied by a leisurely, meaningful conversation…and perhaps a beer.

This year, may you enjoy the spirit of true hospitality and the pleasure of eating and drinking with good company. As Chef Bourdain wrote in his introduction to Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook, “the greatest and most memorable meals are as much about who you ate with as they are about what you ate.”

27x winner Utah’s Best of State

24x Best of State Caterer

3x Best of the Best / Hospitality

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