Anthony Bourdain has been to Tokyo before, but this episode of No Reservations focuses on Cook It Raw, where 15 of the world's leading chefs travel to Japan to prepare a meal for 50 invited dignitaries and media types that apparently involves foraging and hunting for your ingredients -- unless you're Sean Brock. Cook It Raw is a movement, or an organization, or a club. They have their own manifesto, and call themselves a brotherhood.
Question: Cook It Raw, awesome or douchey? Discuss!
Tony is at a unagi place in Tokyo called Hosokaya. He notes the rhythmic
whack of eel after eel getting a large nail into its eye then
eviscerated. We could call it nose to tail dining, but isn't an eel all
tail? After a meal of eel liver, guts, and some dried eel liver, Tony
meets chef Rene Redzepi of Noma in Copenhagen. Tony says that Noma is
considered the best restaurant in the world. Rene counters with the
fact that his mom thinks so. They discuss what Cook It Raw actually is
over a dish of codfish sperm and spinach. There will be a lot of sperm
eating, by the way. As Tony delights in the sperm dish, he disses
Question: Would you rather eat sprouts or sperm? Discuss!
Chang has flown in for the Cook it Raw (demo? competition? display of
prowess). He and Tony go to Lawson, which is a drug store chain that has
a fast food counter. Basically the Japanese version of Seven Eleven.
Chang orders some chicken nuggets in two flavors -- red and brown. Tony
says "that's some quality convenience store food."
is it that if a regular person eats fast food, we're know-nothings
devoid of any taste, and when David Chang eats fast food, he's a hipster
foodie who just discovered a new trend? Discuss!
The Cook It Raw chefs have gathered and we see James Beard winner Sean Brock from Husk and McCrady's, who you may recall left his own
dinner at Yardbird Southern Table & Bar early, where he was either
"under the weather or drunk", according to our sister blog Clean Plate Charlie.
Each chef gets a handmade plate, which is designed to inspire their
dish at the Eat It Raw dinner. Also -- sperm is the pork belly of 2013.
Sean says "I'm going to eat more sperm." Is this a trend we want to see come to Miami (please insert your own off-color joke here).
Question: Would you eat at a restaurant called Pubsperm? Discuss!
chefs are driven to some woods where they are given a basket and told
to forage. As they pick their way through the woods they note that
something smells like vomit. Something else is poisonous, something
smells like wet dog and there are big nasty spiders all around.
Question: Are you hungry yet? Discuss!
gang goes to Katano Kamoik pond, which is known for duck hunting the old
fashioned way -- with nets. "That way we don't hurt the ducks," says one
of the hunters. Apparently killing the duck doesn't hurt it at all.
Sean Brock is trying to catch a dozen ducks but comes back empty handed,
so they head to a duck sanctuary, which in Japanese means a "place to
Question: Would you rather throw a large net into
the air or blast a duck with a gun (NRA card not required, by the way)? Discuss!
It's finally time for dinner and Tony tells us that
this is the place to go big or go home. We see Sean Brock, who doesn't
have any duck for his duck dish, drinking whiskey straight from the
bottle. While everyone has caught, foraged, and hunted his own food,
Brock merely asks the nice people in the kitchen if they have any pig
parts lying around, then proceeds to barbecue. As Tony puts it, you can
take the man out of the country, but you can't take the country out of
the man. As each plate gets served, Tony eats rocks, whelk, twigs, and
fermented fugu. Alas, no sperm. But there's ice cream for dessert.
Question: Are you disappointed there was no sperm served at the dinner? Discuss!
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
and David Chang meet to discuss the evening. There were some successes
and some successful failures. Tony poses the last question:
Does one cook to make art or to nourish people? Or is it a little of both? Discuss!