Toronto chefs and foodies, take note: Anthony Bourdain, the reformed bad boy of the culinary world, beloved potty mouth and host of the Travel Channel’s No Reservations, will be featuring Toronto on his show. Bourdain made that announcement on his book tour this week when he stopped in at Massey Hall to promote his follow up to Kitchen Confidential, Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook. The globetrotting professional eater and drinker entertained and dazzled admirers during his 90-minute performance, downing bottles of Steam Whistle pilsner and drawing upon material from his memoir. Bourdain graciously entertained banal questions during the event’s short Q&A and took time to applaud Beast’s Scott Vivian, who catered the post-show VIP book signing. However, it was his announcement of bringing No Reservations to the city that drew the most hoots and hollers from the packed house.
The former chef noted that it was Vivian and a group of the city’s chefs—including Anthony Rose (Drake Hotel), Mark Cutrara (Cowbell), Nick Liu (Niagara Street Café) and Zane Caplansky (Caplansky’s Delicatessen)—he met at an event organized by Toronto Life contributor Ivy Knight (host of 86 Mondays) the evening prior that helped tip the scales in favour of Toronto. Bourdain informed us in a follow-up meeting that while season seven’s roster was already spoken for, Toronto will be in the lineup for season eight.
Catching up with Vivian after the show, we were told that Bourdain never truly considered bringing No Reservations to Toronto due to a lack of recommendations from chefs he met in Vancouver and Montreal, the only Canadian cities featured on the show to date. In response, Vivian noted the city’s interest in nose-to-tail dining, collection of small mom-and-pop restaurants, and ethnic neighbourhoods. “I wanted to let him know the food scene in Toronto is real. I told him I would be honoured—would love—to take him around and show him some cool places. Before he left, he shook my hand and said, ‘I look forward to making television with you.’”