The Attack: In 2009, Bourdain said, "I'll tell you. Alice Waters annoys the living shit out of me. We're all in the middle of a recession, like we're all going to start buying expensive organic food and running to the greenmarket. There's something very Khmer Rouge about Alice Waters that has become unrealistic."
The Response: Silence, although in 2011, Waters played a fun April Fool's joke by claiming to author the @RuthBourdain Twitter account, which mashes up Ruth Reichl and Anthony Bourdain.
The Resolution: Gothamist contacted Anthony Bourdain in 2009 to clarify his statements. Here's what he wrote:
I don't have any burning issue with Alice Waters, a restaurateur and visionary whose accomplishments clearly dwarf my own, so I doubt it. In a perfect, candy-colored world, I'd like to eat most of what she'd like to see us eat. I feed my daughter mostly organic food whenever possible -- and greatly admire what Dan Barber is doing. My comments were a heartfelt reaction to her wildly hubristic letter to the (then) president-elect, a document whose tone, timing and content I found distasteful -- particularly coming from someone who hadn't even bothered to vote in the four previous elections.
True, I am suspicious of wealthy suburbanites who preach "back to the soil" philosophies -- as if most -- or even many -- could start digging subsistence gardens in their back yards or afford expensive organic or locavore lifestyles. But Chez Panisse was inarguably a cradle of the food revolution. I respect Alice Waters' enormous contribution to changing the way we eat and cook today. No one can take that away from her. No one should try.
I intend to treat her with the respect she rightly deserves. She says some stupid shit sometimes—and she is certainly free to call "bullshit" on me when I do the same. I might, in the spirit of good fun, point out that following even my own not particularly distinguished career in kitchens -- most of it in view of the "Choking Victim" sign, I DO, at least, know the Heimlich maneuver.