Anthony Bourdain — love him or hate him, he and his Emmy-nominated show No Reservations are not going anywhere. The world traveling author and former chef has just wrapped up Season 7 of the foodie-popular Travel Channel show.
So if you are missing that “sardonic” northeastern wit, then Bourdain fans you are in luck. His new hour-long Travel Channel show called The Layover debuts at 9 p.m. next Monday, Nov. 21. The premise of the show is described as “a high octane series that gives [Bourdain] just 24-48 hours to explore an unexpected destination.” The shows will focus on places all over the world that are “off the beaten track, no nonsense and budget friendly.”
First stop in the 10-part series: Singapore.
I recently had the opportunity to phone into a group (media) interview with Tony where he briefly talked about the upcoming show and answered some of our questions. Below is a transcript of the interview (edited for length).
Bourdain: Hi guys — the most obvious question, you know, people would have is what way does this show differ from No Reservations. And other than the fact that it’s a lot more fast-paced and a lot more, I guess, scenes jammed in there and destinations, unlike No Reservations, it is our hope that this will be actually useful.
You know, it’s not — as with No Reservations — about the museum or the Eiffel Tower or the major sort of sight seeing spots. We kind of assume that you will know about those things already. They’re more about the local joint, the places that make each individual place different than the other place.
Q: So to that end, you say you’re going to go from five stars to dive bars. So if you had to choose on any given day whether you’d rather be in a fancy restaurant or your favorite, you know dive bar place to eat on the planet, which would you prefer and where would that spot be?
Bourdain: Chances are, I mean, on any given day I would much prefer to be eating or having a beer in a late afternoon in a favorite dive bar or at a family-run place, and not particularly, no tablecloth, not fancy, you know — sleeping dog on the floor.
It would be very hard to do better than having a cacio e peppe — a local pasta in Rome, or a bowl of noodles someplace in Alaska or Singapore.
Q: I watched the Singapore episode and I have to say I felt melancholic looking at the gorgeous airport. I’ve never been to Singapore but I travel a lot in the U.S. and our airports are so lousy and I just wanted to know if you could talk about that and just kind of where you — what you feel about as far as our infrastructure, our airports since you travel the world so much.
Bourdain: It’s really dismaying. You know, I’m a guy who grew up taught to believe that we have the best of everything in our country. And I certainly feel that as the wealthiest nation we’re the best. Why shouldn’t we have the best?
So, yes, it’s really dismaying when you’re seeing a mass transit, better mass transit all over the world. When you go to an airport like (Changi) airport in Singapore, it really makes it tough to travel through American airports.
Q: I just wanted to ask — I saw your Chef Talk at Google last week and you said a lot that every episode of No Reservations is very different from the last. Is that something that’s going to carry into The Layover? Will it have a similar feel in that way?
Bourdain: I don’t know. I mean, style-wise, I mean, I think not — we’re not making many movies like we do with No Reservations. It’s a lot more (veritas) style.
No Reservations is a lot more, bipolar, even manic depressive at times. The whole look, feel, choice of lenses, color scheme, music changes wildly. So, so far, at least this season, I guess the short answer is no.
Q: Do you think it’s ever a challenge to make foreign and really remote cities more accessible to an American audience?
Bourdain: You know, I don’t really care. I think, The Layover — these are places that any international traveler wouldn’t be likely to find themselves. But, you know, the challenge is making like Saudi Arabia or Liberia more accessible in the sense.
And I think the way you do that is you sit people down at a table or you show people sitting down at a table and you relate in some way the way that I do.
Q: Regarding your production process for The Layover, how is it going to differ compared to No Reservations? And do you have a different production team altogether?
Bourdain: Well, we had to use two simultaneously. It was really a challenge. What we would do — first of all, we were using completely different cameras and lenses. It was really revolutionary for us.
We were given use of these amazing (Panavision) lenses that we used I think for some of the first time ever on, you know, little DV cameras. And so essentially we were using film lenses that allowed us to shoot at night, any time of day, any situation, any circumstances without any, you know, with light, no light, it didn’t matter.
So for the first time, we were shooting at very high speed, in real time, but with these really amazing, amazing lenses. In order to do the show, we’d have to send one crew to say Singapore. They’d arrive early. I would show up. We’d shoot for two, highly compressed, very active, very busy days at which point I would leave Singapore, leaving that crew behind. There would be another crew waiting for me, shooting (B-roll) in Hong Kong.
I’d shoot with them, then move on to let’s say Montreal where the first crew would have been then leap-frogged. So it was a lot of logistics and less room for error than No Reservations where if things go wrong we can make a scene out of that, maybe not a fun one for me but an entertaining one for the audience.
In this case, since we’re trying to inform and actually provide people some useful information — we try very, very hard to get it right in pre-production.
Q: Do you exercise when you’re filming?
Q: What about when you’re not?
Q: I know that you do a lot of speaking engagements around the country and you have a lot of die-hard fans. And I was just wondering, what do you think that they’re going to think of this new show?
Bourdain: I don’t know. It fills me with terror thinking about — I have absolutely no idea.
I learned a long time ago that it’s really bad for me to think about how — whether it’s a book or a TV show, whatever I do, if I think about what people will think, what they might be expecting, that’s not good for me.
I just think all I can do is go out there and do the best job that I can, follow my instincts and hope for the best.
Anthony Bourdain: The Layover, 9 p.m. Mondays, starting Nov. 21. Travel Channel.
by Gene Lee, Food and More blog