Published October 12, 2012
NEW YORK – It's comeuppance time for Anthony Bourdain. And by his tally, he deserves his lickings.
Bourdain may have earned his culinary fame eating his way around the globe, but he built his bad boy persona in part with searing assessments of fellow celebrity chefs.
And on Thursday evening, they shot back during a raunch-laden comedy roast of Bourdain held at the start of the New York City Wine and Food Festival.
"I figured I would actually have the easiest time of anyone," said Food Network star — and longtime victim of Bourdain's verbal lashings — Rachael Ray. "I don't have to write jokes. I don't have to write insults. If you ask the man of the hour in the hot seat, my mere existence is clearly insult enough."
Bourdain shot to culinary fame with his 2000 memoir, "Kitchen Confidential," a brash and blunt account of his early — and drug-soaked — days in the food world.
The book led to a Food Network show of his own, but before long he turned his razor wit on the celebrity food industry, taking particular aim at non-chef food celebrities such as Ray.
Ted Allen, host of Food Network's "Chopped," called him an "ex-chef, ex-junkie who's made a fortune insulting his ex-industry."
Before the start of the festivities — or perhaps hostilities — Bourdain reflected on his history of tirades against Ray, Paula Deen, Guy Fieri and other food television stars.
"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 "Well, we've set an official appointment for that."
Fieri, who pushed a wig of spiked white hair similar to his own onto Bourdain's head during his presentation, suggested this was a big night for his rival.
"You're not used to having a large group of people actually pay attention to your work," he said.
Comedian Bonnie McFarlane poked fun at the tell-all nature of Bourdain's book, saying he clearly didn't understand what "confidential" meant.
"Truth be told, you're a pretty amazing guy. You're a husband, a father, a recovering drug addict, he stars in multiple TV shows, he's traveled the world, he's written multiple best sellers," she said. "Anthony, is there anything you can't do? I mean, besides cook?"