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Cayman: Kitchen Confidential with Anthony Bourdain

Cayman: Kitchen Confidential with Anthony Bourdain
Foodtripper had No Reservations about meeting the legendary author and chef.

My initial meeting with Anthony Bourdain is at Calico Jacks beach bar on Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman. As a longtime fan and advocate of the man who pushes all manner of culinary boundaries, I'm understandably keen to meet the man himself.
Bourdain’s ethos around both food and life is akin to my own, and I feel we'll rub along well together. Although I'm palpably excited about meeting my idol, a part of me is fearful that he'll fail to live up to my great expectations.
The event at Grand Cayman is a beach barbecue hosted by the man himself, alongside friend and fellow Frenchman, Eric Ripert. Dressed in a vintage Hawaiian shirt and slim fitting jeans, the man's got a little bit of rock'n'roll swagger, and presides over two barbecues, feeding, metaphorically (almost) the five hundred.
It's not the ideal time for an intimate chat- star-struck women fawn over the chef, who deals with each with style and panache. We reschedule for the following morning, when Bourdain will be judging chefs at a contest at The Ritz Carlton hotel.
Once again, we're not alone- but this time our companion is Bourdain's young daughter. He speaks enthusiastically of his passion for the Cayman Islands, with their laid-back, family-friendly vibe and fantastic food. He's particularly keen on the Philippino food shared with him by the hotel's staff, and wishes it were better known.
Bourdain's television series, 'No Reservations' sees the chef scouring the globe for increasingly weird and wonderful foods, so he's the perfect guy to quiz on exotic foodie destinations. His top five: Vietnam, Tokyo, Singapore, Spain and Italy.
Meanwhile, Bourdain's own kitchen essentials are unequivocally 'salt, butter and pork'. On the road, he misses Boeuf Bourgignon- suggesting, perhaps, that his tough-New-Yorker image belies his traditional French heart.
Back to the present location- and Bourdain's keen to champion Welly’s Cool Spot- an eaterie just outside George Town. He also talks of enjoying the food at local jerk and fish fry stalls, evidently still on the hunt for new taste sensations.
As a man with his finger firmly on the culinary pulse, I enquire about Bourdain's tips for 'the next big thing'. His considered response is to look out for fellow competition judge and author of 'Momofuku', David Chang.
As we part, I reflect on the character of a man I've admired for so long. Far from the pretentious, demanding celeb I'd feared, Bourdain proved an introspective, charming and insightful interviewee, only reinforcing my opinion of the chef as a true legend.
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5 September 2010
By: Jane Milton
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