In Chicago, Anthony Bourdain enjoys donuts and (oops) a Cadillac
BY LORI RACKL TV Criticfirstname.lastname@example.org November 18, 2012 9:36PM
Anthony Bourdain cruises around Chicago in a Cadillac last summer, before he swore off the brand in a product placement dispute.
‘THE LAYOVER WITH
8 to 9 p.m. Mondays on
Updated: December 20, 2012 6:09AM
The second and final season of “The Layover with Anthony Bourdain” starts Monday with an episode devoted to Chicago, a city the eponymous epicure loves.
Its main airport, not so much.
“There are few airports you want to be in less,” Bourdain says in the season premiere of his Travel Channel series about making the most of a short amount of time in various cities. “The O’Hare experience usually kind of sucks. It blows. No other way to put it.”
The outspoken host can’t wait to get away from O’Hare, which he does behind the wheel of a vintage Cadillac — the same luxury auto brand at the center of a big beef Bourdain has with the cable network he called home for eight years.
A honked-off Bourdain recently took to Twitter and Tumblr to lambaste the Travel Channel for turning him into what he says amounts to a de facto pitchman for Cadillac on his other show, “No Reservations.” That program ended its nine-season run on the network earlier this month.
Wrote Bourdain on Tumblr: “It came as a shock and a disappointment to turn on the TV for the last two episodes of my show and see that someone had taken footage that me and my creative team had shot for my show, cut it up and edited it together with scenes of a new Cadillac driving through the forest. Scenes of me, my face, and with my voice, were edited in such a way as to suggest that I might be driving that Cadillac. That, at least, I was very likely IN that Cadillac — and that if nothing else, I sure as s--- was endorsing Cadillac as the vehicle of choice for my show.”
During a Twitter tirade Bourdain tweeted: “I do NOT drive a Cadillac. And now I never will. #travelchannel.”
Bourdain DID drive a Cadillac — an old, aquamarine one — through the streets of Chicago for “The Layover,” filmed over the summer before the recent blowup.
“Whenever I’m in Chicago, the City of Big Shoulders as they call it, I need a big-ass, gas-guzzling, made-in-America vehicle to drive in,” Bourdain says during one of several shots showcasing the car and the Cadillac emblem.
A Travel Channel spokesperson said it was Bourdain and his production team’s call to use the Cadillac in the Chicago episode, and the network “was not paid for any product integration” in “The Layover.”
“For both his Travel Channel series … he has chosen to drive cars that make sense for the location he is visiting,” the spokesperson responded via email. “In Italy, he drove a Ferrari; in Miami, a Corvette; and in Seattle, a Tesla. And now in the premiere episode of “The Layover,” shot in Chicago in July 2012, Bourdain drives a Cadillac … We acknowledge the irony of the situation.”
Bourdain could not be reached for comment.
During his 43-hour layover in Chicago, the voracious foodie packs in enough visits to bars and restaurants to keep the average traveler busy for a week.
He chomps on a cheezborger at Billy Goat Tavern; dives into roasted pig’s face with Stephanie Izard at The Girl and the Goat; admires the irreverent Gov. Blagojevich artwork at Old Town Ale House, and ducks into River North’s Doughnut Vault, even though “generally speaking I don’t give an F about donuts,” he says. Bourdain also breaks his no-museum rule to take in the medical oddities on display at the International Museum of Surgical Science.
One thing he avoids like the Kennedy in a blizzard at rush hour: deep dish pizza.
“In spite of their general excellence in food, drink, music — everything really — their most famous cultural export is the appalling deep dish pizza,” he says. “Irony being, in a town where everything is great, they’re most famous for something that sucks.”
That’s saying a lot coming from a man whose travels have found him eating sheep testicles, warthog anus and the still-beating heart of a cobra, which he likened to “a very aggressive oyster” on a recent episode of “Piers Morgan Tonight.”
Bourdain dropped by Morgan’s CNN studio to promote his new food and travel weekend show, “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown,” slated to debut on the cable news net this spring.
The best-selling author also is headed to ABC to be part of its upcoming cooking competition, “The Taste,” a culinary version of “The Voice.” Bourdain, who’s co-executive producing the show along with British food star Nigella Lawson, will be one of four chefs coaching teams of cooks and judging their dishes blind.
Hungry for more Bourdain? He’ll be in town May 9 with chef Eric Ripert to talk all things food at the Auditorium Theatre. Chicago is one of nine stops on the duo’s “Good vs. Evil” tour. Tickets ($35-$65) went on sale last week; details at GoodVsEvilTour.com.
One place you’re not likely to see the ubiquitous Bourdain — barring reruns and the final season of “The Layover” — is the Travel Channel.
“It’s an inglorious way to go out,” Bourdain wrote on Tumblr after the Caddy kerfuffle. “We wanted to go leaving a lot of great shows — and nothing but good memories and good will behind. But things just didn’t turn out that way.”