He stopped by 'Late Night with Seth Meyers ' to praise José Andrés and to address the pitfalls of kitchen culture.
In the wake of allegations of sexual assault in the restaurant industry and beyond, Anthony Bourdain has been taking a long, hard look at how his persona has helped perpetuate harmful attitudes among chefs, and his male fans in general, an attitude he termed “meathead bro culture” on Late Night with Seth Meyers last night.
Bourdain mentions his first and most famous book, Kitchen Confidential, in which he describes the “largely male, pretty brutal and oppressive, very, very, very difficult,” kitchens where he learned to cook, as a potential source of the problem.
“I was proud of making it thirty years in that system, and when I wrote about it, I tended to glorify,” he admitted. “But I knew I had a problem within a couple of years, because people, fans, would come up to me after readings, and they would high five me with one hand, and slide me a packet of cocaine with the other… I think in some ways I kind of provided unwitting validation for a kind of meathead mentality, a meathead bro culture.”
It’s obviously refreshing to hear a man admit culpability as these allegations continue to surface, and Bourdain has been especially outspoken in his support of the women who have been coming forward. He even admitted that the “meathead culture” has “not been good, particularly for women.”
When Meyers asked his guest if the food industry specifically is equipped to adjust the mindset that has produced so many of these problems, Bourdain does not equivocate.
“I think it’s going to have to change,” he says. “Whether they like it or not…they’re going to have to contend with this. You’re going to have to account for yourself. You’re going to have to take responsibility for what you see, not just what you take part in.”
Bourdain has such a massive following that hopefully his attitude—cutting himself, and no one else, any slack for perpetuating a culture that harms women—will encourage other people to speak out against abuses in every industry that they witness.
On a lighter note, Bourdain also praised his friend José Andrés, who has been working tirelessly to feed people in Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. He explained that André has been able to cook “more meals than FEMA has been able to provide,” and that at one point “the Salvation Army was asking him for food.”