The feud between celebrity chefs Paula Deen and Anthony Bourdain has been bubbling like a pot of chicken stock simmering under low heat. As a foodie, I enjoy nothing more than plopping down on the couch with a big tub of popcorn (drenched with butter, of course) and following the knives flying back and forth between these cable television divas. Recently, this culinary clash flared up like fat drippings from a bone-in ribeye steak on the grill hitting the white-hot charcoal, when Deen announced on NBC that she has been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
Now, here on The Perch, we normally frown upon taking a cheap shot at someone who is suffering from a disease. But Deen’s plight is a bit different. Wrapped in all those layers of hypocrisy that shield her, like the Teflon on my omelette skillet, none of the criticism would stick on her anyway. The same cannot be said of Deen’s cooking and my ribs and dickie-doo (for those readers who have not had the pleasure of living in the South, a dickie-doo is when your gut is so big, it sticks out farther than your dickie-doo).
Deen was diagnosed three years ago, or twenty six thousand five hundred thirty five sticks of butter, depending on if one measures the duration while inside or outside of Deen’s kitchen, and has chosen to keep that information private until now – the occasional rumor notwithstanding. Perhaps it would be unfair to state that Deen’s lifetime of preparing and consuming rich, mouth-watering southern classics caused her diabetes. According to a recent study by the International Diabetes Federation, one in ten adults will become afflicted with diabetes by the year 2030. What is fair to state is that not only is Deen entering a new life stage in terms of living with and managing this disease, she is determined to profit from her affliction as well.
At the same time that she announced her disease, Deen also announced she has signed on as a paid spokesperson for drug company Novo Nordisk. Together, they will educate the public on healthier eating to help keep the disease in check. If Bourdain thought several months before Deen’s announcement that her being in the pocket of “evil corporations” was despicable, what must he think now of Deen’s newest partnership with Big Pharma, the most evil of corporations? In fact, this little tidbit apparently penetrated Bourdain’s alcoholic haze with the clarity of a crystal decanter, because Bourdain managed to put down the shot glass long enough to tweet, “Thinking of getting into the leg-breaking business, so I can profitably sell crutches later.” Of course, Bourdain taking shots at a fellow celebrity chef for drumming up business serves as a prime example of the proverbial pot calling the kettle black. If Bourdain has stepped into a kitchen long enough in the last ten years to remember what a pot looks like, that is.
Happily, interested spectators do not have to pick sides in this ongoing clash of culinary titans. Picking sides in a made-for-television drama is as futile as keeping our kitchen at The Perch as spotless as the typical kitchen on the set of a Food Network cooking show. So here at The Perch, we hope that Deen successfully manages her diabetes and continues to live a healthy life, and Bourdain continues to tell us exactly how he feels.