Paula thinks... - Bobby Bank/FilmMagic
...Tony is a jerk. - John W. Ferguson/Getty Images
Bourdain, acerbic host of The Travel Channel's "No Reservations," launched the first grenade at the delightful Deen, who is perhaps the best-liked chef on TV. Sniped Bourdain to TV Guide: "(She is) the worst, most dangerous person to America. She revels in unholy connections with evil corporations, and she's proud of the fact that her food is f---ing bad for you. I would think twice before telling an already obese nation that it is OK to eat food that is killing us. Plus, her food sucks."
Fired up, Bourdain also criticized Food Network personalities Rachael Ray ("Does she even cook anymore?), Sandra Lee ("I hate her works on this planet") and Guy Fieri ("I look at Guy and I just think, 'Jesus, I'm glad that's not me.'")
Deen's not going down without a fight. The mayonnaise-loving, down-home cooking Georgia peach responded with an angry statement to Page Six, telling the column: "Anthony Bourdain needs to get a life. You don't have to like my food, or Rachael's, Sandra's and Guy's. But it's another thing to attack our character. I wake up every morning happy for where I am in life. It's not all about the cooking, but the fact that I can contribute using my influence to help people all over the country. In the last two years, my partners and I have fed more than 10 million hungry people by bringing meat to food banks."
She adds, "I have no idea what Anthony has done to contribute besides being irritable."
This morning, Deen appeared on "Fox and Friends" to defend herself, saying she'd never met Bourdain and was shocked by his vicious commentary. "Listen, come to my house, I'll cook you a meal and if you still feel that way about me, so be it," she said.
As much as we love Bourdain -- we could watch his show "No Reservations" on continuous loop (it's smart, global, irreverent, delicious!) -- we're gonna have to side with Deen on this one. Bourdain raises tough, provocative questions: is Paula Deen contributing to America's obesity epidemic? Should we hold her accountable, given her tremendous influence among those who worship her mouthwatering recipes of fatty, fried foods? (Michelle Obama, who's campaigning hard to reverse childhood obesity, would likely that welcome such a conversation.)
But, as always, Bourdain's delivery was unnecessarily harsh and mean, overshadowing his legitimate, thought-provoking concerns about a serious issue. Instead he comes off like a self-satisfied jerk.
Humbled but unapologetic, Bourdain tweets: "Resolved: Next time I'm asked (for the millionth time) who the worst cooks on Food Network are, I'll just shut up. Who cares?"
Apparently, lots of people do -- when Paula Deen's in the line of fire.
- Anthony Bourdain