Being Ruth Bourdain

One fateful night in March 2010, I created Ruth Bourdain, a satirical mashup of the globe-trotting uber-“bad boy chef” Anthony Bourdain and legendary author, restaurant critic, and Gourmet magazine editor Ruth Reichl.

Dubbed “the Banksy of the food world,” this Frankenstein monster of food blended two extreme poles of gastronomy: the poetic culinary musings of Ruth Reichl with the unabashed hedonism of Anthony Bourdain. Joining these opposite forces together into a parody on Twitter (@RuthBourdain) became the perfect vehicle for lampooning not only these two individual food celebrities, but all aspects of the contemporary food world, from celebrity chefs to food media cliches.

James Beard Award

In 2011, I won a James Beard Award for Ruth Bourdain’s social media shenanigans. The award was the first the James Beard Foundation ever gave for humor. In order to keep the true identity of Ruth Bourdain secret, I stayed home from the ceremony and followed along on Twitter, only adding to the speculation about who was behind the parody mashup.

The Book

In 2012, I published Comfort Me with Offal: Ruth Bourdain’s Guide to Gastronomy, a satirical handbook for eating, drinking, cooking, and dining out. The book was a sendup of guide books to food, covering everything from food history to dining etiquette and matters of taste, interspersed with imagined memoirs from Ruth Bourdain’s long biography in food.

The Reveal

After three years and nearly 3,000 tweets, I finally decided it was time to “come out of the pantry.” While I had escaped being exposed for three years, a number of different writers were (incorrectly) accused of being the creators of the satire. For an April Fool’s Day gag, chef and restaurateur Alice Waters even jokingly claimed that she was the mind behind Ruth Bourdain. After a very close call at being unveiled, I finally revealed Ruth Bourdain’s identity to New York Times reporter Julia Moskin. Her article about me and my alter ego appeared on the front page of the Times in July 2013.

Comfort Me with Offal: Ruth Bourdain’s Guide to Gastronomy

In 2012, I published Comfort Me with Offal: Ruth Bourdain’s Guide to Gastronomy, a satirical handbook for eating, drinking, cooking, and dining out.

 

The book was a sendup of guide books to food, covering everything from food history to dining etiquette and matters of taste. Along the way, the book dispenses advice on how to taste wine, celebrity chef hairstyles, exercises to bulk up your taste buds, tips for raising a baby gastronome, and how to prepare for a vegan apocalypse.

 

Throughout, Ruth Bourdain’s culinary wisdom is interspersed with vivid (imagined) personal stories featuring many if the worl’d most renowned chefs.

Buy on Amazon
For more about Ruth Bourdain, visit comfortmewithoffal.com.