Beef -- it's what's for dinner. And so are Chinese and other cuisines if you're a guest on the "Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations" holiday special airing Monday, Dec. 6, on Travel Channel.
In this irreverent hour that takes aim at classic holiday TV shows, Bourdain and fellow chef Michael Ruhlman plan a potluck dinner, which soon goes awry, sending the duo to a Chinese restaurant. Chefs Mario Batali and David Chang, rocker Ted Nugent, and musical guests Marky Ramone, Michael Graves and rap group Das Racist are also part of the show.
"The general idea," Bourdain explains, "is that me and Michael Ruhlman invite some chef friends to make a festive generic holiday menu -- because of course, it has to be a generic holiday -- out of as many parts of a steer as we can. So we have guest appearances by Mario Batali, David Chang and Ted Nugent, all cooking various parts of the animal."
Nugent, who appeared on a noteworthy 2008 episode of "No Reservations," railing about obesity in America, takes a much lower key here, simply grilling steaks.
"We get more angry mail every time we put him on the show than anybody else, something I'm pretty proud of," Bourdain notes. "I mean, I may disagree with just about everything that comes out of Ted's mouth, but I defend his right to say it."
So as usual, expect the unexpected here, and don't look for any of what is considered traditional American fare to grace this holiday table.
"American food is whoever is cooking in America right now," Bourdain says. "I mean, we're a melting pot of a country; we always have been. We've always been a place where people bring their traditions from elsewhere. Traditional American fare -- I guess, what, meatloaf? Certainly any New Orleans food would be considered uniquely American. You know, clam chowder, steamed lobster, you know, New England boiled dinner, that sort of thing. But to me, at this point spaghetti and meatballs, that's as American as it gets. And I can tell you that the menu on this show is decidedly -- there won't be turkey, let's put it that way."