If you love good food, you probably know Anthony Bourdain. Even if you've never met him.

In television and in his literature, Chef Bourdain is one of the most outspoken individuals in culinary history. He's very open with his disdain for competing chef personalities, as well as his love for others. He has, at times, been profane and used sexual references liberally. And in his uniqueness, I respect the man.

Overall, this "chef-at-large" personality is also a great marketer. He's not all things to everyone, nor does he try to be. He stands for what he believes in. And his stance will never change, be it personal or professional.


I was visiting New Orleans over the weekend, and a chef friend of mine told me an interesting story about Mr. Bourdain. A fact that thanks to good PR on behalf of Travel Channel, many probably do not know.

"Tony" is known for many things. Among them is No Reservations, an ongoing show where he travels overseas, to cities worldwide, and places within the United States, where hosts treat him to local culture and cuisine. As one can expect, he critiques the dining experience of each host. And he does it bluntly.

But when he visited Tuscany, Bourdain treated his hosting friends to "a little taste of home." What he didn't realize when preparing his take on the two Tuscan dishes were two very important things to note:

He served them his version of these dishes - not what his audience was hoping to be presented. While New York and Jersey Italians share the same descent, they each had different tastes. Different opinions.
His version, bluntly, tried too hard.The presentation and taste was "disgusting" to the Tuscan guests. To quote a young Tuscan diner: "You need real talent to screw up caponata."
There were several negative faces and comments about the food (in Italian, with captions) that were anything but positive. In fact, Tony's Amico film guy took him for a walk to talk about the show, telling the guests "You owe me one."

During their walk, a brief mention of their location and its connection to the "Inferno." From there, Vincenzo went on to tell Chef Bourdain "And man, let me tell you, the dinner you cooked for us...that was really close to hell."

Perhaps the "Chef-at-Large" had a few culinary courses left to take. He survived this mistake, mostly due to his humble recovery as the episode progressed. But not all brands are so lucky. And when they make this mistake, it's typically not to two or three guests at a table. Instead, it's made to the masses, for all to see.

Understand your target audience. What they like. What they hope for in a product. And deliver. Going beyond expectations is great, but only if you know the right way to go.

If you go with what you think they will like, you'll misfire 99.9 percent of the time. Are those good odds? Ask Tony.

Remember to KISS. A true sign of understanding is the K.I.S.S. - "Keep it Simple, Stupid!" Your audience will appreciate your gesture. "KISS" and they will tell.

And in this case, that's a good thing.

Author's Bio: 

Joey Barker is a Memphis-based digital marketing consultant and promotional copywriter.

He has led traditional and interactive campaigns for a variety of leading and insurgent brands, including Caesars Entertainment, World Series of Poker, Crislu, Swarovski, Trollbeads, Peabody Hotel, Fred’s, and many others.