I started this post after reading through a good deal of the posts in the Mario Battali left the Food Network thread and noticed that the replies took a sharp turn toward Bourdain.
Here are a few thoughts and observations about AB:
I love reading him (he's a good writer and writes about things I find interesting--haven't read the fiction so I guess I'm not a true groupie).
When I ate at Les Halles, it was during the time when he was still executive chef. I forgot to look in the kitchen to see if he was there. The food was great.
Yes, he's the king of snark, arrogance, egocentricity, etc, but he'd be the first to tell you that. I believe it's all part of his public persona.
After watching the last episode of No Reservations, which was filmed in Hong Kong and featured the stick-riding noodle maker, I was in awe of Bourdain's humility as he watched, and in his narrative.
His blogs about Top Chef, however snarky (I swear I never use that word as much as when I'm talking about Bourdain) have consistently offered clarity and humor. He also manages to find someway to relate to each of the chefs in question, as he did with Howie this past week, that makes me think this guy has a bigger heart than he might anyone to think he does.
In terms of tv personalities, I think I'd take Bourdain any time in lieu of Rachael Ray, the southern lady, Giada, or any of the rest of the middle america tv chefs, who are meant to appeal to the masses.
When Bourdain starts to get on my nerves, I stop listening or reading. for a minute. then I always go back.
Anyway, it seems that people either love him or hate him. I'm curious about other CH folks.