Actor Michael K. Williams Recalls Showing Anthony Bourdain Around Brooklyn
Michael K. Williams, star of The Wire—widely considered one of the best television shows ever—stopped by The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and revealed he has a secret hobby: he really likes to cook.
“Cooking gives me the chance to be with the people I love. I get to stuff ‘em with good food. I love to bring people together,” he explains.
Williams, whose mother hails from Nassau in the Bahamas, says he cooks mostly Caribbean-inspired dishes for his family, like curry chicken, jerk salmon, and a “really special” spaghetti and meatballs. He’s also a big fan of a dish which he calls “grits below”—a Southern take on Caribbean peas and rice: the rice is replaced by grits and the pigeon peas with lima beans.
Williams grew up in Flatbush and actually had the opportunity to take Anthony Bourdain on a tour of Brooklyn for an episode of his Travel Channel show No Reservations. Williams said that he was nervous about working with Bourdain.
“I said, ‘I’m from the hood, is he okay with that?’ I’m from Flatbush. I’m not going to take him to bougie Williamsburg, where I live now,” he recalls. “He was down with that.”
Williams ended up taking Bourdain to the housing projects where he grew up, and the pair found themselves being chased down by a group of young kids. Williams turned to talk to them, thinking the kids recognized him from The Wire—only to find out they were more interested in meeting Bourdain.
“He was so gracious. He spoke to all of them, took pictures,” he says.
Later, Williams took Bourdain to a neighborhood restaurant called Gloria’s, where he planned to test him: Williams ordered oxtails for the table, thinking that if Bourdain knew how to eat them properly he would be “my kind of guy.” Turns out Bourdain did know the right method—he ate with his hands.
“No fork and knife for the oxtail,” insists Williams. “That’s as bad as trying to eat fried chicken with a fork and knife.”
Bourdain seemed to have had a knack for impressing almost everyone he came across, and if there has been any balm to ease the pain of his death, it's been hearing these stories from his friends and admirers.