Beyond cooking, traveling, and beating his opponents into submission with Brazilian jiu-jitsu, one of Anthony Bourdain's greatest passions is to torment his longtime friend and three Michelin-starred chef, Eric Ripert.
On Sunday, Bourdain and Ripert traveled to Sichuan Province, China for Parts Unknown, venturing to Buddhist shrines and taking lessons in Sichuanese cuisine. But while Ripert is best known for the upscale French cooking found at Manhattan's Le Bernardin (Coddled by years of foie gras, runny cheeses, flaky pastries, and the subtle notes of many fine wines,” as Tony puts it), Bourdain decided to have a little fun with his pal, forcing the chef to ingest a never-ending array of fiery delicacies from Chengdu.
Before long, however, Ripert apparently begged for mercy, craving the comforts of a Western-style "breastaurant."
Bourdain reflected back on the trip in an essay on Medium Sunday, pondering how two award-winning chefs could have ended up at a Hooters in Mainland China while Justin Bieber blared from the speakers.
Around halfway through our adventures in Sichuan Province, though, the Frenchman was folding at the knees. He pleaded for a respite from the delicious but damaging local flavors. So my crew, taking pity on him, took him to the nearest western style eatery — a HOOTERS. I did not have the heart to take photos of what I saw that night. I saw many terrible things. I can be a cruel man. But not so cruel that I could or would Instagram the sad spectacle of my Michelin starred friend gratefully digging into a “Double D” burger while our servers, in spandex hot pants, gyrated robotically to Justin Bieber between courses. But I will treasure the memory. Oh, yes.
Perhaps we'll be seeing a little more orange-and-black spandex at Le Bernardin beginning this fall.