We’re now four installments deep into the Anthony Bourdain/Balvenie Scotch video series Raw Craft, a whisky-driven enterprise showcasing artisans and craftsmen across this great land: Two partners make hand-crafted cast iron skillets in Syracuse. One man designs $15,000 saxophones in New Orleans. Another spent 15 years learning to stitch and tailor suits. He makes only 10 to 15 per year.
And then there’s Bourdain himself. Not sure if it’s the Balvenie, the jiu jitsu, or what, but dude has never looked better. He’s tanned, slimmed, quieter. As he observes the artists at work, one starts to imagine that he’s ripped down his record-collaged walls and replaced them with needlepoint canvases. He hasn’t lost his edge, necessarily, but the edge is from Etsy and it reads “D r e a m e r.” He seems…humbled. And how could you not be in the presence of a man who turns meteorites into knives?
Of course, we still get some of that hallmark lyrical language. These are the best Bourdain quotes thus far:
Episode 1: “Borough Furnace” (Cast iron skillets)
“I’m Anthony Bourdain, and this is Raw Craft.”
(First ep, just a warm-up, people.)
Episode 2: “Frank Shattuck” (Hand-stitched suits)
“For me, it’s about showing up every day and sucking a little less at something. That’s enormously satisfying to me.”
“You know, sometimes when you get the opportunity to do it right — to take the slow, painstaking way — the customer doesn’t even get it always. Maybe they don’t know everything that went into creating this thing, to making this thing. But you know what? I always do. And when you do a plate of food right, there is this moment where it sits there in the slide before it goes out to the dining room, and it’s a moment of satisfaction. I don’t need them to come back into the kitchen and say, ‘Oh that was really great,’ or ‘I really get what you did there.’ I know. I know.”
Episode 3: “Steve Goodson” (Saxophones)
(Holding the mouthpiece of a saxophone) “This is the connector. If you’re gonna put this into a metaphysical descriptive — connecting lungs to fingers, human to device, the gateway from the soul. I should write your ad copy, if you had ad copy.”
(Listening to the saxophone) “Even I can tell the difference, and I fell asleep next to a Marshall Stack at an Oyster Cult concert back in 1979, so my hearing is seriously damaged.”
Episode 4: “Bob Kramer” (Forged knives)
“You know, if somebody stabbed you to death with that knife — and that would be wrong, I hasten to say — that knife’s so beautiful, you couldn’t help but say, ‘Wow, that’s a really beautiful knife.'”
Here is Episode 4, for your viewing pleasure.
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