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Anthony Bourdain has ‘No Reservation’


So the show is actually called, “No Reservations with Tony Bourdain,” but I always knew him as Anthony.

See, we worked together at a restaurant in the West Village of New York City called “Formerly Joe’s.” It was on the corner of West Fourth and West Tenth streets in the heart of the village.

The reason I bring this up is because he just completed his 100th episode of “No Reservations” on the Travel Channel and I happened to see it, which brought back a lot of memories.

Anthony was the “clam and oyster shucker” in the “raw bar” at “Formerly Joe’s.” This is the same restaurant where I worked with Edie Falco and Michael Chickliss as well as my dear friend Mary Woltz, who was a hostess there. We were all on the same shift together.

I can remember raucous and rather colorful language bandied about as we sat at the employees table prior to our shift having dinner together.

I noticed in watching his 100th show, that prior to each segment, parents are strongly advised about the language and adult content of the show and that’s the Anthony I remember. In one show he was eating Mexican food and doing rapid shots of tequila in between bites. This is also the Anthony I remember.

Thing is, employee meals were prepared for the staff between 4 and 4:30 p.m. prior to the dinner rush. It was a time to let loose and also get geared up for the work ahead. If you relax, have dinner with and then work hard together, you really get to know people.

We also sort of banded together in an alliance ruefully making fun of our boss, Andy Menschel. I specifically remember he and Anthony butting heads on how to shuck clams, how to present them and what hours should be worked. I can’t help but think some of these experiences went into his best-selling book “Kitchen Confidential,” which launched Anthony’s career.

In one of the episodes Herman and I watched just last night, Anthony was talking about eating shark meat that had been buried for months in Iceland in an early episode of the show. Anthony made the pronouncement that it was the most disgusting thing he had ever put in his mouth.  And that’s saying a lot. Anthony prides himself on eating locally prepared delicacies, no matter how disgusting they may appear. And he’s not afraid to give a bad report when the food or drink deserves it. He mentioned how many local wines taste like battery acid, so he doesn’t pull punches.

All these memories were brought back when I saw him on the show acting like the old Anthony I remember from those days in the trenches.  I wish him well and hope he has 100 more episodes.

About Kathryn Spira

Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland, OH who pursued an acting career in NYC and Los Angeles, now pursues freelance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County, New York. Previous columns may be accessed at her web site