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Chef, television host and author Anthony Bourdain recently made a stop at the Senator’s Place in Cleveland.
The purpose of Bourdain’s visit was to inquire about some of the cooking customs of individuals in the Mississippi Delta. This segment of his show, “Parts Unknown,” is set to air on CNN at 8 p.m. Sunday.
Bourdain sat down with Sen. Willie Simmons, Senator’s Place owner, and probed about the difference between Southern food and soul food.
“It was a great experience to have someone who you watch on television all the time, to come out and interview you. He got a chance to eat some good food and gain some clarity about the African American culture in the Mississippi Delta,” said Simmons.
Bourdain travels to places that are not tourist attractions and are unknown to most people. He is known for his 2000 book Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, and in 2005 he began hosting the Travel Channel’s culinary and cultural adventure programs “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations and The Layover.”
In 2013, he joined CNN to host “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.”
“He is a real down-to-earth person who loves food and exploring the unknown,” Simmons said. “It was very exciting. Bourdain focused a lot on the food and cultural heritage of African Americans.
“It was just a good conversation. He ate some of our delicious food while interviewing me and complementing the food.”
Simmons said that in December a member of Bourdain’s staff contacted him about doing the show.
“He wanted to know how the restaurant was started, where the menu came from and why we choose to cook the way that we cook. I explained to him that our cooking customs derived from my mother,” he said.
Simmons said Bourdain also asked about his position as a legislative figure and how it is linked to him being a restaurant owner. They also talked about the connection of the blues with food.
“Bourdain wanted to know the difference between soul and Southern food,” Simmons said. “This was a surprising question because I have always considered them to be one in the same. I spent a little time trying to educate him on the topic.
“I don’t really think there is much of a difference between soul and Southern food. Soul food is sometimes thought to be more fattening than what some people consider to be southern food.”
Simmons said he hopes people will have the opportunity to watch the episode and enjoy it.
“A lot of our interview was centered around the Mississippi Delta and marketing it because the Grammy Museum is coming,” said Simmons.