Mediated Food Culture

The culinary world seems to swirl around Anthony Bourdain these days. A renowned chef and writer, Boudain is on my television all the time, with his own show, “No Reservations,” on the Travel Channel, and his guest judge appearances on Bravo’s Top Chef.

But Bourdain’s also all over the blogosphere, as both of the above programs have blogs on their associated web sites. He also makes appearances on author Michael Ruhlman’s blog. Bourdain’s a scathingly good writer, and a blog seems like the perfect medium for his up-front, in-your-face style. In fact, all of the Bourdain-related sites are seeing a strong fan base develop, with terrific commentary from hundreds of participants on these spaces.

Bravo, for example, has created blogs for all the judges, but, if comments are any measure of fan interest, Bourdain seems to be the biggest draw. (Although Colicchio’s no slouch, either.) But certainly it’s Bourdain’s writing that makes his Bravo blog worth reading:

What the hell is with Casey’s knife skills!? During the Quickfire, I was absolutely gobsmacked watching her methodically sawing away at those onions like Ina Garten on Thorazine. No. Let me correct myself. Ina Garten on Thorazine would be faster. MUCH faster.

You know, Ina Garten…Food TV? Oh, forget it. Trust me, it’s funny.

On the No Reservations site, there’s even more going on. The network is using both a discussion board and a wiki to create a sense of community through user participation and interaction. The latter, it seems, is not all that popular — the “Stories” section, for example, only has one reader story posted. So, it’s a fledgling wiki, but a wiki…

No matter. All this food writing and TV watching is hard to keep up with, but it’s fun. It’s providing an outlet for talented chefs to move beyond the kitchen, and it’s providing an outlet for foodies to interact with some celeb chefs, and each other. The commentary on these sites is often as well-written and entertaining as from the “pros.”

If you’re not acquainted with Bourdain, you should be. I suspect he’ll be hanging around our televisions, and our blogs, for a long time.

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