The first seven episodes of celebrity chef Tony Bourdain’s food-show-cum-travelogue serve as a great introduction to both the man himself and his outlook on the world and its cuisine. Bourdain, a professional chef and food writer in New York for nearly 30 years before branching out into TV, is constantly humorous and entertaining—and though he swears more frequently than most, it’s usually self-deprecating, and never as grotesque as the violent streams that gratuitously spew forth from the mouth of another, far more infamous cook.
Filmed in 2005, these seven episodes see Bourdain globe-trot from Sicily to Vietnam and from Iceland to Malaysia before heading back home to New Jersey for a semi-biographical episode—and some pizza, pasta and hot dogs. Finally, he heads to a land he calls “down under the down under”—New Zealand.
That last destination, along with the series’ pilot in Paris—in which Bourdain gets lost in the catacombs, drinks too much absinthe and thinks he hears the ghost of Oscar Wilde—proves the most entertaining: Bourdain makes a “food porn” joke onstage at a convention in Christchurch unfortunately attended almost exclusively by old ladies with hair dyed colours that do not occur in nature, and they greet him with blank stares.
He then travels to Malborough where he kills and eats a (semi-)wild boar, and is almost injured in a quad-bike accident. Other episodes on the two-disc set sample exotic culinary creations in Hanoi, Sicily and Kuala Lumpur, and in each Bourdain takes time to briefly look at the culture and natural delights of the country—not just the food, as might be expected. First Bite is a great introduction to a series, now in its sixth season, that will hopefully continue to be issued on DVD.
Out May 7th through Magna Home Entertainment.