Noriko Anderson wasn’t the only Eater wondering where Mario Batali and Anthony Bourdain ended up after their sassy showdown at the Paramount Saturday night. I was curious too, having left the theater following the Mario and Tony show, which ended with besotted fans lining up for a big-time Q&A. “Anthony Bourdain, you are incredibly sexy!” said one hot tamale, while others in the audience held forth with queries rather than commentary.
“What do you think of vegetarians?” (“Some of my favorite things to eat are vegetarians!”) said Mario. “Culinary school or work first?” (“Work first, get your ass kicked,” said Tony.) “Would you ever cook behind the line again?” (Bourdain showed disdain, while Batali dreams of a little restaurant in Rome where he’d work five nights a week.) Sadistic chefs? (“Volume and aggression work wonders in the kitchen,” according to Tony. “A stern lecture in the presence of your peers” works even better, said his pal). “Is Eric Ripert that hot in person?” (“Yes,” said Tony, who won’t get an argument from me).
But the question on everyone’s lips was “Where are you going, after?” To which Tony replied, “Dick Cheney’s undisclosed location.”
Beer-drinking buddies and their moderator, Luke Burbank.
Good thing I know someone capable of offering full disclosure:
Armandino Batali: father knows best!
No, they didn’t end up at the Batali’s Pioneer Square salumeria and sandwich shop, as Bourdain implied earlier. Nor did they follow the advice of Eaters who offered their after-the-show suggestions last week. Instead, they went to Cafe Presse.
“The VIP after-party went on for two hours,” said Mario’s dad, describing an on-stage schmoozefest at the Paramount where, for the price of a high-end ticket ($175), wrist band-wearing fans got to meet and greet the chef-celebs. Afterward, Armo and his wife Marilyn, along with Peter Lewis and his wife Johnna Turiano, herded up the bad boys of stage and screen and headed to Capitol Hill. “We sat outside and had a delightful evening,” said Armandino. “They stopped serving liquor at 2 a.m. and we sat there till 3.”
They were joined for a time by chef Matt Dillon, who stopped by after work for some oysters and was invited to join the patio party. “They’re great dudes,” says Dillon, who hosted Bourdain at the Corson Building’s debut a year ago. The Corson’s everything-guy, Dave Sanford, could be found earlier in the evening in the will-call line at he Paramount waiting to get in and hear the chefs banter.
That’s Dave on the left, wearing a big smile — and the signature Corson Building bee-pin on his pocket. Also standing by, Chris Nishiwaki (very long locks) with Go Eat!’s Julien Perry (pedal pushers). Anybody know those other folks?
Mario really enjoyed himself at Cafe Presse, says his dad. He even sent his compliments back to the kitchen, giving a special nod to the cold chicken. Chef/owner Jim Drohman went home at 11 p.m., missing his chance to cook for (and hang out with) his old boss Peter Lewis and company. And rather than stop by her workplace after the show, Presse’s chef de cuisine Jessi Aaenson (who was at the Paramount) missed the opportunity too, Drohman said. Until he emailed her later, “She had no idea they were there.”
As an easily recognizable figure, Mario greatly appreciated the fact that “there was nobody there to harass him or bother him,” said his dad. That wasn’t the case earlier in the day when Tony and Peter Lewis had lunch at Ballard’s La Carta de Oaxaca. “I wanted to grab a sandwich at Paseo, but the line was too long,” Pete said today from his new post at Bastille, where he was interviewing a bartender.
Instead, they snagged a sidewalk table La Carta. And when fans — and Le Gourmand’s owner/chef Bruce Naftaly — spotted the star of “No Reservations” knocking back Mexican food right here in old Ballard, “Tony kindly shook hands and posed for photos,” Pete said. By the way, in case you were wondering: Yes, they had reservations at Cafe Presse — Peter called ahead.
I asked Armandino — who spoke to me by phone this morning from the cobblestones of Pike Place Market — how it felt to be in a sold-out crowd of food-TV worshipers paying homage to his son and Bourdain.
The crowd at the Paramount, with a line-up during the Q&A
Did the starstruck cheering when they took to the stage thrill him? “I kind of like it,” he said, perhaps because he’s reveled in the limelight himself. “Marilyn loved it.” Did their potty-mouths bother him? — as they did a fellow food professional who wrote to me complaining, “I wouldn’t pay $55 plus service fees to hear them again.” “I don’t like the f-word so much,” Armandino said. “It wasn’t the audience for children, we knew that going in.”
Along with his wife of 50 years, a full contingent of cousins were on hand for the festivities, including Aunt Izzy’s son-in-law John Hansen, who stood in line and took to the mic during the Q&A and was greeted by name by his shorts-and-orange-Croc’s-wearing cousin.
Aunt Izzy Armstrong, making gnocchi at Salumi in 2003 (Seattle Times/Barry Wong)
“There were 30-40 people there from the Federal Way,” said Armo, noting the attendance of Mario’s friends from “back in the ’70s at Sacagawea Junior High School.” Mario’s prom date was there, too — acknowledged by the chef from the stage, who said he hadn’t seen her in over 30 years. Mario recalled the good old days, when Kiss rocked the Paramount in 1974 and he was there rocking along with them. “I remember thinking, `One day, I’ll be on that stage,'” he said. Right he was.
“To the audience they were playing to,” said Armandino (an audience that included a stunning number of young cooks and industry folks) “it couldn’t be any better. Those two guys feed off each other very well. They’re great friends. I talked to Mario yesterday, and he told me they were happy as a lark. He said — and you can quote me — `The Seattle audience? There’s nothing better!”
So, was anyone else in the audience Saturday night? What did you think? I had a blast, and send some love to my friends Larry and Sally Brown, who offered me one of their extra tickets.