×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

A Cook’s Tour

The Food Network continues down a well-advised travelogue path with "A Cook's Tour," one man's journey for Epicurean nirvana in the far-off reaches of the planet. Episode one of 22 is a tour of Tokyo, most fascinatingly the fish market where a master sushi chef buys before he slices.

With:
Host: Anthony Bourdain.

This article was corrected on Jan. 7, 2002.

The Food Network continues down a well-advised travelogue path with “A Cook’s Tour,” one man’s journey for Epicurean nirvana in the far-off reaches of the planet. Episode one of 22 is a tour of Tokyo, most fascinatingly the fish market where a master sushi chef buys before he slices. “A Cook’s Tour” fits in well with the cabler’s current fare, which gets further and further away from the two-camera-in-the-kitchen studio set and takes its shows into more visually interesting venues.

Bourdain, a lanky, steely-eyed presence with an intense yet mellow drone of a voice, arrives at his first TV show already something of a cult figure. He was executive chef of Gotham brasserie Les Halles before the publication of his nonfiction bestseller, “Kitchen Confidential,” the story of his life as a junkie and a chef and, most pointedly, why not to eat seafood in a restaurant on a Monday. New Line optioned the book and is adapting it into the film “Seared”; he has since published a novel and the companion book to “A Cook’s Tour.”

Show has tone like that of Les Halles, which is defined by the French-style butchering of high-quality meats — it’s all about the ingredients. For once, Food Network is putting on display food you can’t do at home — and they show that acquiring the ingredients isn’t all pretty before the meal hits the dining room table. The camera captures the knife skills of several sushi chefs — plain and simple, it’s art — and touches on facets of what makes seafood valuable. One scene involving the cutting open of a tuna, separating the toro and then eyeing the prized piece could repulse some, but it is absolutely riveting television for anyone interested in food.

A shorter second segment involves dining on the chanko dish, a bit of broth prepared tableside with meat, fish, tofu and other ingredients tossed in by diners, that sumo wrestlers dine on to bulk up. Bourdain senses that he has invaded a secret society — the sushi chefs were far more welcoming — and he takes an honorable hands-off position as he ponders, quite rightly, why the food has yet to reach the States. This sequence is watchable yet far less involving than the sushi seg.

Camera shots capture the frenzy of professional kitchens and extend that energy to Bourdain, who is quite rightly a little peevish about entering another cook’s kitchen. Considering the noise levels that surround Bourdain, audio is superb.

For this show, Bourdain traveled the world to find the exotic in Indonesia, the out-of-the-way places in Europe and his own personal hell — a vegan potluck in Berkeley — before ending at the U.S. mecca of cooking: the French Laundry in Napa Valley. It’s interesting that he avoided Italy, and well he should: Mario Batali admirably handles the country and its cuisine in the greatly improved “Mario Eats Italy,” a perfect example of how an FN show benefits from solid production values, a convivial host and a proper estimation of the audience.

More Reviews

  • The Village NBC

    TV Review: NBC's 'The Village'

    Even by the standards of network television, NBC’s “The Village” wears its inspiration boldly and openly: It’s “This Is Us,” except set among the disparate residents of an apartment building rather than the members of a family. “The Village” leans, hard, into the “This Is Us” formula of trauma-as-drama, deriving its tone from its characters [...]

  • Boy Howdy! The Story of CREEM

    SXSW Film Review: 'Boy Howdy! The Story of CREEM Magazine'

    If Rolling Stone aspired (after somewhat “underground” beginnings) to be the Rolls Royce of rock magazines, CREEM was by contrast the Volkwagen band-van: pungent with reefer, speed sweat, and last night’s groupie action. The hubris that had it self-dubbed “America’s Only Rock ’n’ Roll Magazine” was strictly of a working-class, sex-drugs-and-you-know-what variety that ridiculed all [...]

  • The Red Phallus

    Hong Kong FilMart Review: ‘The Red Phallus’

    A blanket of gloomy gray cloud hovers above a remote village in the heavily symbolic Bhutanese drama “The Red Phallus.” Relating the tale of a 16-year-old girl driven slowly to madness by the men around her, Tashi Gyeltshen’s noteworthy feature debut is marked by pungent criticism of stifling social norms and psychological violence that’s rarely [...]

  • Disneynature "Penguins"

    Film Review: Disneynature 'Penguins’

    Disneynature’s “Penguins” places character, or rather an Adélie penguin who’s quite the character, at the forefront. Directors Alastair Fothergill and Jeff Wilson focus on one charismatic male coming of age in the harsh conditions of Antarctica’s spring/summer season as he sets up a nest, finds a mate, and fulfills his destiny as a father. With [...]

  • ‘A First Farewell’ Review

    Hong Kong FilMart Review: ‘A First Farewell’

    An outstanding debut feature by Chinese writer-director Wang Lina, “A First Farewell” centers on three Uighur children and their farming families whose lives are upended by regulations demanding increased levels of Mandarin language-based teaching in schools. Beautifully photographed and performed by amazingly talented non-professional child actors, Wang’s film is an emotionally rewarding glimpse into challenges [...]

  • PET SEMATARY

    SXSW Film Review: 'Pet Sematary'

    In Stephen King’s “Pet Sematary,” the big-city Creed family moves to rural Maine, inadvertently buying a plot of land that includes an ancient Indian burial ground. If you inter a beloved feline correctly in the creepy pet cemetery behind their house, it’s liable to come back … different. Same goes for cadavers of the non-cat [...]

  • The Curse of La Llorona

    SXSW Film Review: ‘The Curse of La Llorona’

    Things go bump in the night — and, as an occasional change of pace, in the middle of the afternoon — with a frequency that will neither surprise nor disappoint genre fans throughout “The Curse of La Llorona,” an efficiently formulaic shocker inspired by the centuries-old Mexican legend of the titular bogeywoman. It’s set in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content