When celebrity chefs Anthony Bourdain and David Chang announced a collaboration last month, one might have imagined they’d be combining their creative energies in a Michelin-starred kitchen. But, in keeping with the current foodie-culture reality, the two have teamed up on the new PBS series The Mind of a Chef. The series, which premiered last week (check local listings), follows Chang on a 16-episode culinary odyssey, which the producers call “a rethinking of a ‘food/travel/cooking’ show.”
How much of a rethinking? Despite his super-chef status, you won’t even see Bourdain on the show. He’ll be relegated (or is it elevated?) to narrator, while Chang handles on-camera high-jinks. Today’s boldfaced chefs may be well schooled in building media empires, but Bourdain embodies the chef as pop-culture hero.
Without even mentioning his cooking, his CV runs the gamut from bestselling writer and novelist to acclaimed TV host and writer/consultant on HBO’s Treme. (Chang’s burgeoning empire includes a literary food journal called Lucky Peach.) In tandem, the two have a rarefied cool that chefs almost never achieve; you’re more likely to discuss them alongside your favourite literary idols than their fellow kitchen comrades. And with The Mind of a Chef, they’re bound to reach new heights. In a post-Romney world, what’s hipper than PBS?