Food Personalities

Anthony Bourdain on The Layover, L.A. and Jonathan Gold

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Thu, Nov 10, 2011 at 8:30 AM
click to enlarge Anthony Bourdain at the LudoBites truck. - VIA THE TRAVEL CHANNEL
  • Via the Travel Channel
  • Anthony Bourdain at the LudoBites truck.

We elbowed our way into the Travel Channel's crowded media conference call to speak with legendary chef, food writer and TV personality Anthony Bourdain about his new show, The Layover, premiering this month.

When it was finally our turn, Bourdain, who says he loves the LA Weekly, promptly ignored our question to talk instead about the parts of L.A.'s food culture he's really aiming to capture in his shows, pointing to Jonathan Gold and Roy Choi (who also points to Jonathan Gold) as guides.

In The Layover, which shoots in addition to No Reservations, Bourdain swings through various cities on a number of continents attempting to show viewers how to best use a very short amount of time in a particular place. He'll start in Singapore, and at some point in the season, he'll make his way to Los Angeles.

Sayeth Tony, The Layover is a bit less narcissistic than No Reservations.

No Reservations is all about me, me, me and me having fun and me satisfying my curiosity about the world and less about whether or not anybody of the audience will actually be able to replicate the experience.

So with this show, well, we're actually trying to be useful. We've unmasked a lot of information about places around the world over the course of eight years [via No Reservations]. We've gotten pretty good about cutting right to the heart of the matter.

[In New York], I always advise people to go for a pastrami sandwich. So we're kind of looking for, you know, the Hong Kong version or Singapore or Montreal or L.A. or San Francisco version of the pastrami sandwich.

We patiently waited for our turn on the call, ready to ask Bourdain our one burning question. When our name and publication was announced, Bourdain quickly replied "Love your paper," then just started talking about Los Angeles:

The No Reservations we did in L.A. -- we were very much looking to riff on To Live and Die in L.A.

We really sort of like that golden hue working class, non-Hollywood oil, the rocker arm oil rig scenes. It really started with that and that look and that filth -- we were just kind of looking at it from that point of view.

To do Layover, it's a challenge because you're looking to do an informative L.A. show [while] trying to avoid the usual suspects. So, yes, it's hard, particularly in L.A. I have to say Jonathan [Gold] made it a lot easier just by doing what he does in highlighting the kinds of places that he's been highlighting over the years. So Koreatown was a major focus, and food trucks. As Roy Choi pointed out -- the difference between L.A. and so many other major cities is it's not European at all.

The heart and soul and spine of L.A. is not Europe, which is a big difference from a lot of the other cities. And I guess I missed that. I hope that this show is a success in that I actually learn something.

Eventually he did address our question: Is it a challenge to make the more remote, foreign cities accessible to an American audience? In true Bourdain fashion, he gave us an straight answer. "You know, I don't really care."

The Layover premieres on Monday, November 21 at 9 p.m. on the Travel Channel.

Follow Ali Trachta on Twitter @MySo_CalLife.

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