To you, these may look like a blue plastic wrist band and a couple of pieces of ribbon. But in actuality, they are Golden Tickets to see this man......up close and personal. Yes kids, Tony Boudain was in Kansas City and the Big Shamu was front and center for every moment. A full sixty minutes on a slow Tuesday night. The man is amazing. He was funny, sharp and snarky. No notes, just his thoughts on what a sweet gig his life has become - A teevee pitch to some teevee money people that goes something like this: "Here's the show - I travel around the world to exotic places and eat exotic food. You have a camera crew follow me around and you pay for it all." Why sure Mr. Tony, we would love to...sign here!Television foie gras. And before you ask, yes the warthog anus was the worst and yes it did make him very sick. But it's also his philosophy that you can't refuse. This is all the food the hunters of the warthog have and they are giving it to you, how can you say no?
What else did I learn? Tony has been to Kansas City before and knows this is a barbecue town. He even went out on a limb and named his favorite joint - Oklahoma Joe's - a little place that pumps out ribs and burnt ends from a remodeled gas station garage (sorry KC Masterpiece, you didn't even rate a mention). And he's right, it's excellent barbecue.While he recognizes that KC does barbecue like Debbie does Dallas, he also noted that there are some things KC doesn't do...like deli and bagels. Nice try, Tony - when in KC, stick to the barbecue.One of the questions from the audience was "Who dropped more F-Bombs, Tony or Gordon Ramsay?" Tony demurred to Ramsay, who he claims is a professional F-Bomber while he [Tony] is just a hobbyist. And however much Tony may enjoy Ramsey and Kitchen Nightmares, he HATES Hell's Kitchen. "Does anyone really believe any of the idiots that win the prize actually lead one of Gordon Ramsay's kitchens?" No, Mr. Tony, we don't believe.
And Top Chef? Well, when it comes to that show, Tony is a self-admitted FanBoy. He said Hung deserved to win, as did Stephanie. He also said that the Marcel incident was disgusting and that, while Marcel might have been annoying, he could also cook some really good food. And don't even try to persuade him that anyone, let alone producers, could ever sway Tom Colicchio into making a judging choice other than best or worst food on any given episode. No siree, the Top Chef FanBoy is actually quite passionate on that point.
But the night wasn't just about Tony talking on stage. There was also the secret backstage talk (ribbon pins) before the private party at the Bristol (blue wrist bands only). Which leads us, my dear sweet TC Crack Monkeys, to some rather unpleasant news. Father Tony will not be a part of Top Chef, Season 5. It seems that their shooting schedule conflicts with his "No Reservations" shooting schedule and there you have it. I'm already depressed.
It was also here where Mr. Tony graciously allowed all sorts of folks to have their pictures taken with him, such as Amanda of The Test Kitchen (who helped me score my Golden backstage ticket).Once all the flashes were snapped it was on to the Bristol, KC's best homegrown seafood restaurant, where the "Blue Wrist Band" crowd had already put a major dent in the food.Do you blame them? Meanwhile Mr. Tony was parked at the bar while his adoring fans lined up to have him sign books.I'm not sure it was intentional but the place at the bar where Tony was parked was right underneath this light fixture. Subtle hint?You decide. Still there was food to be knoshed.Salmon and capers is always good. How about an oyster shooter?This baby had enough kick to make the Java Junkie smile...it's not very often you get nice, fresh oyster in Kansas City.
Yes, all in all it was a wonderful night. This is a man who lives life by a self admitted "I don't give a shit" philosophy and by all appearances it's working out marvelously.