Since it first aired in 2005, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations has brought us up close to the people and food in just about every burg on this planet except here. Washington D.C., Chicago and for crap’s sake, even New Jersey has been featured. And yet, not Philly. It’s not like there’s a lack of interesting restaurants, chefs and food traditions here. So why does Bourdain continue to avoid us? Since he’s coming to town next week for an evening of culinary conversations with Eric Ripert at the Merriam Theater, we thought now was as good a time as any to ask him. “I certainly have nothing against Philadelphia,” Bourdain told Grub Street. “I actually look forward to doing a show there.”
While he recognizes the city’s culinary output — he told us that Marc Vetri is “doing some really great stuff” and that both our Italian and Vietnamese dining options are worthy — he and his producers have struggled over the years to come up with the right angle to showcase our city and our food.
“What particular mutant cuisine is indigenous to Philadelphia other than the cheesesteak?” he asked rhetorically. “I’m not the smartest guy in the world, and I’ve been completely ignorant about places before. It might well exist.”
He added that what he considers as the show’s most successful episodes, are the ones in which there are no white tablecloths in any of the shots. And as for exactly what kind of food would guarantee the show comes here?
“If there’s, like, a large Sri Lanken or Cambodian community and they’re doing mutant Cambodian burritos,” he said. “That would get me there tomorrow.”