Last night at the New York City Wine and Food Festival, celebrity chef and globe-trotting bad boy Anthony Bourdain got roasted. And no, it didn’t involve an open flame and a spit – it was a comedy roast, in which his friends and peers swapped jokes at his expense for charity. Guests included other celebrity chefs – Rachael Ray, Guy Fieri – as well as comedians and television personalities, like The Today Show’s Willie Geist.
Bourdain shot to fame with his 2000 memoir, Kitchen Confidential, which detailed his raunchy and drug-addled years in the food industry. He now hosts the popular Travel Channel shows No Reservations and The Layover. But in spite of his current success – or perhaps because of it – many of the night’s guests made sure to harp on his seedy past. Chef Ted Allen joked, “[He’s an] ex-chef, ex-junkie who’s made a fortune insulting his ex-industry,” and Sarah Silverman kicked off the night in a pre-taped segment by warning, “There’s gonna be a lot of great lines tonight, and you can’t snort any of them.”
Since taking to television, Bourdain has developed a reputation for bad-mouthing other celebrity chefs – Rachael Ray in particular – so last night was a chance for them to fire back. “When they asked me to roast Anthony Bourdain, I thought I could actually have the easiest time of anyone in this room, because I don’t have to write jokes; I don’t have to come up with insults,” Ray said. “If you ask the man of the hour in the hotseat, my mere existence is clearly insult enough.”
Of course, it wouldn’t be a true roast if the star was the only object of ridicule. Speakers took stabs at everyone in the room: comedienne Bonnie McFarlane said of plus-sized chef Mario Batali, “He loves olive oil because that’s how he gets in and out of his car.”
Bourdain was a good sport about the whole affair, and seemed to welcome the onslaught as an overdue comeuppance. “I’ve always felt that if you’re a public figure and I’m making fun of you and your work on television, at all times it is perfectly appropriate for you to give it back to me,” he said at the start. “Well, we’ve set an official appointment for that.”
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