Anthony Bourdain. You either love or hate the guy. Some people think he’s an arrogant asshole, and he’ll probably be the first to tell you he is, which is part of what makes the man wildly entertaining to watch. The New York-based chef-turned-author and TV personality launched a new food/travel show on Travel Channel in late 2011 called The Layover. It just started running on Canadian boob tubes about a month ago, which is why I’m late to write about it now. But better late than never, right?
For those of you who don’t have a clue who this Bourdain guy is, here’s a quick run-down. He graduated from the Culinary Institute of America (which, in chef-speak, is kind of a big deal) in his early 20s but spent most of the next decade slaving away in New York kitchens without much applause. That’s until he wrote Kitchen Confidential, this teeny little chef diary-type book that sorta blew up as it gave readers a behind-the-scenes look at working in NY restaurants. After writing a second book, A Cook’s Tour, that’s when the Food Network came knocking. Bourdain filmed a TV version, which wasn’t too successful, but that was really the launch pad for Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations. This wildly popular first-person narrative documentary-type show on the Travel Channel made Bourdain a household name (OK, in foodie households). The premise: Bourdain travels the world in search of amazing things to eat and amazing things to see. Basically, the world’s best god-damn job.
The Layover sort of is a continuation of sorts of what Bourdain started on No Reservations. The premise to The Layover is finding out what to do, eat, drink, and see on a 48-hour layover in any given city. Some of the episodes that have aired in Canada include Bourdain’s experiences of Hong Kong, New York, Miami, Montreal, and Singapore. Whirlwind visits to Rome, Amsterdam, London, San Francisco, and Los Angeles complete the first season of the series.
Why this show works: Bourdain gives you step-by-step instructions on how to get from the airport to the centre of town, including approximate cost and time it takes, and all of the restaurants and places he goes to during the layover are relatively close and well laid out on a map. As an avid traveller myself (who is usually trying to cram too many things into a too short trip), I can’t tell you how much easier it is when someone gives you restaurants, shops, and attractions you can realistically get to during your stay. Bourdain does this well, and that’s why this show works.
If you don’t subscribe to the Travel Channel or want to see what the show’s really like, you can check out episode recaps HERE.