In the world of food and booze today, marketers and restaurateurs alike endlessly lean on buzzy phrases like “handcrafted,” “house-made,” and even “farm-to-table” to lend dishes and consumer products an air of authenticity and craftsmanship that many of them simply don’t have. They’ve appropriated these descriptors from the Slow Food movement—where they once distinguished goods produced outside of the industrial and corporatized food system—and applied them to everything from maple water to tortilla chips.
So when Anthony Bourdain, the culinary world’s foremost anti-establishment bullshit-detector, decided to launch Raw Craft, a web series that highlights true craftsmen—artisans such as famed knifemaker Bob Kramer and welder Elizabeth Bishop—I was intrigued. Even more interesting is Bourdain’s choice of sponsored partner on this project: the single-malt Scotch brand The Balvenie.
I met up with Bourdain in between two back-to-back LA premiere screenings of the web series’ second season in the back room of the silent movie theater to talk about how the “artisanal” craze started, the food media’s role in its perpetuation, the pros and cons of making everything in-house, and why unnecessary things can be the most beautiful.