Food Fight: Anthony Bourdain and Paula Deen Engage in War of Words

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Brian Killian / Wire Image / Getty Images (L) ; D Dipasupil / Film Magic / Getty Images (R)

Paula Deen (left) and Anthony Bourdain

In Friday’s New York Post, Paula Deen fought back against Anthony Bourdain’s stinging comments. Surprisingly, it’s a recipe that doesn’t include butter.

But her retort did involve plenty of roasting and skewering. After comments by celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain left a bad taste in her mouth Thursday, Deen sounded off against her fellow foodie’s entitlement and elitism. “I have no idea what Anthony has done to contribute besides being irritable.”

Indeed, Bourdain is known for his gruff attitude as much as he is for his extravagant tastes, which Deen also attacked. “Not everybody can afford to pay $58 for prime rib or $650 for a bottle of wine. My friends and I cook for regular families who worry about feeding their kids and paying the bills.”

Deen, a Food Network star, hails from Georgia, talks up her Southern roots whenever possible and is a promoter of home-cooked meals. Bourdain is a Travel Channel star and a former executive chef at one of New York’s best-known (and priciest) French restaurants. Therein lies a cultural divide, sparking this war of words.

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The argument stems from a Thursday TV Guide article in which Bourdain blasted some of his fellow TV chefs. (After all, his show is called No Reservations, and he certainly had none in his comments.) He picked on Guy Fieri, Sandra Lee and Rachael Ray, all current or former hosts on the Food Network. Bourdain had nary a nice word for any of them, but by far his harshest words drove a sharpened butcher’s knife into Paula Deen. “The worst, most dangerous person to America is clearly Paula Deen,” Bourdain told TV Guide. “I would think twice before telling an already obese nation that it’s OK to eat food that is killing us. Plus, her food sucks.” To be sure, her Southern-style cooking involves myriad fried foods, and she’s often criticized for her incessant inclusion of butter.

Bourdain continued his rant on Twitter, defending his comments about Deen but clarifying that he meant she was Food Network’s “most destructive influence.” He even posted a link to one of Deen’s unhealthy dishes, a cheeseburger served between two donuts, called the “Lady’s Brunch Burger.” Unhealthy? Sure. But no matter your thoughts on either chef’s personality, we’d apply the standard cooking mantra here: follow the recipe you like best.

As for both Bourdain and Deen, we think this food fight would be best settled where they do their best work – in the kitchen.

Nick Carbone is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @nickcarbone. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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