Food Fight: Anthony Bourdain Slams Rachael Ray

February 9, 2007 | 5 books mentioned 40 2 min read

5/29/08: Welcome The Lede readers. Thanks for stopping by! Once you’re done reading about Rachael Ray and Anthony Bourdain, check out some of our more recent articles or have a look at our Notable Posts, listed in the right sidebar. If you like what you see, subscribe to our RSS feed. –The Millions

We’ve talked about Anthony Bourdain here before, I love food, hell, Millions contributor Patrick even has a food blog, so this is fair game. At Michael Ruhlman’s blog Bourdain decided to go through the roster of Food Network personalities and either praise them or lambaste them. I have to say, I agree with him on most points (though I can’t watch more than 30 seconds of Emeril without my eyes bleeding). Best by far, though, are his comments on Rachael Ray, and just in case you’re too lazy to click through to read them, I’ll paste them for you here because they are not to be missed:

Complain all you want. It’s like railing against the pounding surf. She only grows stronger and more powerful. Her ear-shattering tones louder and louder. We KNOW she can’t cook. She shrewdly tells us so. So…what is she selling us? Really? She’s selling us satisfaction, the smug reassurance that mediocrity is quite enough. She’s a friendly, familiar face who appears regularly on our screens to tell us that “Even your dumb, lazy ass can cook this!” Wallowing in your own crapulence on your Cheeto-littered couch you watch her and think, “Hell…I could do that. I ain’t gonna…but I could–if I wanted! Now where’s my damn jug a Diet Pepsi?” Where the saintly Julia Child sought to raise expectations, to enlighten us, make us better–teach us–and in fact, did, Rachael uses her strange and terrible powers to narcotize her public with her hypnotic mantra of Yummo and Evoo and Sammys. “You’re doing just fine. You don’t even have to chop an onion–you can buy it already chopped. Aspire to nothing…Just sit there. Have another Triscuit..Sleep…sleep…”

Damn. (via Black Marks)

Books for Anthony Bourdain fans:

Books for Rachael Ray fans:

created The Millions and is its publisher. He and his family live in New Jersey.


  1. A brilliant Bourdain piece, as ever. I have to visit the link now, just reading that graf made me chuckle and it spread a grin across my face. The man is no literary genious, but he sure knows how to tickle the human psyche – in a most popular fashion.

  2. As much as I enjoy Bourdain's show, he can be a little intimidating sometimes.

    Needless to say, he can be really condescending sometimes.

    Not all of us are aspiring or distinguished chefs. You have to start somewhere ya know.

  3. Oh yeah!!!! Come to Mama, Bourdain, as always shrewd, sarcastic and truthful!!!!! Couldn't have said it better myself.

  4. Guess what? Rachel Ray is a pretty lady and that's all that matters.

    I admit I find it pretty hilarious that she is critiqued like some sort of artist… the food world is fucked up. Who are some good indie chefs?

  5. Sure you have to start somewhere. But implied in that statement is that you plan on *going* somewhere, too :)

  6. Bourdain = French + New Yorker … that's a recipe for a useless piece of shit if there ever was one. Those who can … do … those who can't .. teach … those that can't do either … critique …

  7. umm… to the last person who commented… have you BEEN to bourdain's restaurant?

    i went to les halles and it was phenomenal.
    Whereas I could cook better than Rachel Ray in my sleep.

  8. i am making a heartfelt statement on anthony b of food net work about his comment on his recent travel to new york city he commmented where are the track marked hookers and the threat of violence on the streets of new york and how his dark pissed stained soul longs for the dark days of new york i am sure he will get a taste of it all in afterlife since he has revealed to the world he is the son of satan i am sure his carnival of desires will be sastisfied shame on him and his mama for raising such a bitter and evil man good luck and god bless you dirty son of bitch new york rocks asshole

  9. I have to say that I agree with Anthony. Rachael Ray is always trying to convince us that she doesn't think she's anything special, but then she's always commenting that she's the greatest person in the universe.

    In an episode of one of her shows, she went into another chef's kitchen and I believe shoved him away from the stove, and told him how to cook! If that's not bitchy, I don't know what is. How can we possibly respect someone who has no respect for those who studied to become chefs at these high-end NYC restaurants; like Anthony Bourdain?

    Yes, he's brash, but that's what makes him the person he is. No one is asking you to watch his stuff–walk away.

  10. I had to laugh out loud at this because I AM one of THOSE people watching Rachel Ray saying "I could do that" and never do. Although, I watch her while I'm on the treadmill, not the couch. ;) I love both Rachel and Tony though.

  11. I enjoy all food and drink shows,aspecially Anthony Bourdain's.
    I really enjoy his humor and speach, but his show in Laos deeply touched my senses, propelling him above Emeril.

  12. Rachael Ray style of cooking is pretty much similar to Stephen Yan's show "Wok with Yan". They both make it look so easy & comes up with their own names to condiments such as "EVOO" for Rachael & "WONDE' POWDE'" for Stephen. But once you try cooking following their recipe… the taste sucks BIGTIME!

    Their show is just a waste of airtime but come to think of it, it too is fun to watch making fun of themselves.

  13. all i say is THAT anthony Rocks !!!! i enjoy watching him and the fact that he is a smart ass just goes to good entertaining i like the fact that he asks the hard quetions and at least he tells it like it is. Im sorry Rachael miss EVOO i agree with Anthony all the way you can not cook .i would not even make and feed my dog one of your un appetizing concoctions..

  14. Anthony has a wonderful intellect and way of expressing himself. I could listen to him spout pointless drivel all day long and remain endlessly entertained. Besides, he’s handsome, and cuts a fine figure (“figger, with squid-line and jigger”).

    Most of my male friends love Rachael. I think it’s her boobs.

    I really don’t have an opinion on her, I just don’t watch her, as I’d rather watch “No Reservations” and “Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern”.

  15. I like Bourdain for the character he presents– a rough around the edges kind of guy who would happily drink your whiskey while you aren’t looking and then possibly try to sleep with your girlfriend, but all while telling you a hell of a story. Something about his acerbic personality and general bitterness seems to make his gems of wit and insight all the more precious to me.

    I understand that there are RR fans who feel exactly the same way about her, and although I just don’t understand it, that’s their business. If they prefer to be pandered to, so be it.

    I’ll stick to Bourdain’s particular variety of insanity, if you please.

  16. i love him. i really, really love him. and i hate rachael ray.

    however, i will admire her for getting at least a fraction of those triscuit-eating bastards off the couch and off of our health care system because they started cooking for themselves and not relying on apples & caramel from mcdonald’s as a serving of fruit.

  17. Seriously??? So because ANTHONY says I’m going somewhere in my life because I cut my own onions, I should feel like a trailer trash slob when I don’t?? Because ANTHONY says that I should feel bad for making a relatively quick, flavorful meal, it makes me declasse and I should be ashamed? Are you kidding? Anthony, you’re right. We are all a bunch of unenlightened podunk hicks because we watch Rachel Ray despite the annoying EVOO and SAMMY thing. I can make hot dogs and I make buerre blanc. I don’t eat cheetos or drink 2 liters of pepsi. But if I did, it’s really not something I’m inviting pedantic Anthony in on.

  18. Rachael Ray is definitely only about the money. Surely she is incapable of creating any kind of respectable dish whatsoever. Here’s an example:

    This is a recipe of pho that I’m sure everyone knows is originated from VIETNAM. I love how she calls it a “thai-inspired soup” and used angel hair pasta………………………………………. Seriously? She’s only about the money.

    Anyway, I love how honest Bourdain is and I love his humor even more!!!

  19. I think what “real” chefs have against Rachel Ray and Sandra Lee is that they can’t cook properly. Well, I go news for them. Most of us are NOT “real” chefs, nor aspire to be. What they show us is that you can make different, decent and easy meals in a quick amount of time. That is very helpful when both parents work and no ones home until 5. Most people can not spend 3 or 4 hours making a meal. They work for me because they give me ideas so I dont have to serve a jar of Ragu or a piece of chicken with garlic powder on it everyday.

  20. a better commentary by Tony might be summed up as follows:

    people who watch Ray are complete utter fools; drooling empty-headed botards, pure & simple

    mall-congregating, gogurt-slurping, lane-drifting twits, etc. etc.

    Danielle Steele owns islands, for cripes sake!

  21. If you work, or have worked, in the service industry, then you do not like Rachel Ray, and Anthony Bourdain is the Dalai Lama of culinary enlightenment. All you have to do is watch one episode of Rachel Ray’s ‘$40 A Day’, and you just want to smack the living crap out of her. Anyone can survive on $40 a day when you only tip 10% of your bill.

    ‘No Reservations’ is just that… a show about experiencing other foods and cultures without reservation. That means being who you are, doing what you do, acting the way you act… whether the camera is on or off. It’s called being real. I met Bourdain when he came to New Orleans to film the show after Katrina. What I saw on TV was what I got in real life. He is someone you want to learn from, and also get drunk with. Yes, he is that cool.

    Rachel Ray may be able to survive on $40 a day, but Bourdain is the type of guy who will say, “F*@# that, $40 is only gonna pay for the 1st round of drinks. Let’s go to the ATM, I saw a couple of cool bars I want to check out, and I’m pretty sure there was a strip club somewhere along the way as well.”

    Bourdain is the man.

  22. In an episode of Bourdain’s No Reservations, He stands before a herd of elephants and comments that he happens knows other elephants that travel with an entourage…like Rachel Ray. I just about hosed my pants with laughter! Viva Anthony! To compare Anthony and Rachel would be like comparing a royal princess to the easy chick that vomited allover herself and passed out at the bar. Anthony is legendary the wooorld over! RR is convenient, though.

  23. No Camran, you’re wrong. I HAVE worked in the service industry. And I like Rachel Ray. Cynicism is all the rage now and you can have it.

    I have heard the words ‘not respectable’ and ‘improperly’ used with regard to Rachel’s cooking style. Is this not a COMPLETELY relative territory we’re in here? I mean, it’s FOOD for Christ sake! We’re talking taste here- taste as a sense rather than a quantification of style. The sense of taste. This is a completely individual sense, no two are exactly alike. So to say Rachel doesn’t cook ‘properly’ FOR YOU is fine but it’s absolutely presumptuous to assume that it’s not working for ANYONE. And then to call others that do enjoy her recipes low class and distasteful is just truly arrogant. Try again. Different tastes and different needs deem Rachel’s style popular and quite appropriate. She is teaching those who may normally not open up their culinary experiences to do so. Is it haute cuisine? Of course not, she’s not pretending it is. Get over it people, don’t like her? Don’t watch her. She’s not going away, thicken your skin and stop being such a bunch of crying 4 year olds.

  24. Rachel Ray should be selling those absorbant rags that mop up spills on the garage floor. How did she find her way into the artistic arena known as a kitchen? Thank you for a brilliant article. To be fair she is a favorite of my super skinny anorexic friends- watching her while they work off those Fritos!

  25. Uhm, anorexics eat fritos? Weird, I thought anorexics generally abstained from eating fattening foods whenever possible. Come to think of it, why would a chef be a favorite of an anorexic? They have rags that just mop up spills on garage floors? What are they called? I would love to clean my garage floor with one. And a kitchen is an artistic arena? To whom? To a person with an 80 hour a week job? Or a single mother who has been left to raise her kids by herself and her young ones may have to pitch in to put dinner on the table? People with limited means eat too people!!! Maybe it’s all that to you, chubster, but again, food is relative. Now maybe you should take a cue from your anorexic friends and go burn off your fritos…oh sorry, your vichyssoise and creme brulee.

  26. Boudain is a chain-smoking, alcoholic ass! He doesn’t even cook. He owns and tastes. His show is so lame that he has to resort to something like this to get ink. Congats Tony! It worked. Now go back to India or some other place far away from here.

  27. Rachel Ray sucks. She throws salt over her shoulders for good luck, and forgets to put on the dish. I followed one recipe and it was aweful. After that I never watched her show.

  28. Now Rachel Ray is peddling her own brand of dog food. I can’t wait to see what the chefs she antagonizes with her annoying stupidity have to say about this e.g. “making dog food all along”. etc.

    Monica, you’re a dumb cootch. Quiet down, you.

  29. shes an irritating little shit who has no clue what its like to work in a real kitchen
    as a seasoned very qualified teacher and chef i am insulted that people even listen to her.

  30. It seems the classic double standard is alive and well — Rachel is “bitchy,” while Bourdain is “brash” (Ms. X, above).

    Actually, they are practically twins – both are incalculably smug and entirely insufferable. The only reason to watch either of them is to see one’s own attitudes, preferences, and choices reflected and reinforced.

    Bourdain especially is a useful avatar for sneering at the ostensibly less-worthy.

  31. Veta,

    They both might be brash or bitchy, but only one, Bourdain, is entitled to the attitude. He worked, learned, apprenticed, tasted, corrected, and REALLY cooked. She served at Howard Johnson’s, (nothing wrong with that, J Pepin cooked there when he first came to the US), where she says, bragging, that she picked the walnuts and cherries out of the ice cream. Her mom was manager. Bourdain is famous because he worked hard. She got famous trying not to work hard, and helping to lazy-up America, and convince us that processed stuff is food

  32. Tony nailed it. Rachel Ray published a recipe on how to microwave bacon and it wasn’t done as a joke. Nuff said.

  33. Does Rachel Ray do anything to her hair so that it’s not falling into the the food that she is preparing?

  34. He’s right! The more you see her, the more you can’t stand to watch, and wondering why they keep her and her irritating ways all around you. Just goes to show how pathetic the American sheep are. She is such a turn-off. Her hands are what get me, actually, they make me sick. And to read about how rude she is to “her staff”, like she deserves one. Hmm

  35. And he blew his brains out while she’s still making millions of dollars and creating new TV programming…

    Priceless! Totally priceless!

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