Anthony Bourdain's long time director and producer takes readers behind the scenes to reveal the insanity of filming television in some of the most volatile places in the world and what it was like to work with a legend.
In the nearly two years since Anthony Bourdain's death, no one else has come close to filling the void he left. His passion for and genuine curiosity about the people and cultures he visited made the world feel smaller and more connected. Despite his affable, confident, and trademark snarky TV persona, the real Tony was intensely private, deeply conflicted about his fame, and an enigma even to those close to him. Tony’s devoted crew knew him best, and no one else had a front-row seat for as long as his director and producer, Tom Vitale.
Over the course of more than a decade traveling together, Tony became a boss, a friend, a hero and, sometimes, a tormentor.In the Weeds takes readers behind the scenes to reveal not just the insanity that went into filming in some of the most far-flung and volatile parts of the world, but what Tony was like unedited and off-camera. From the outside, the job looked like an all-expenses-paid adventure to places like Borneo, Vietnam, Iran, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Libya. What happened off-camera was far more interesting than what made it to air. The more things went wrong, the better it was for the show. Fortunately, everything fell apart constantly.
About the Author
Season after season Tom Vitale traveled with Anthony Bourdain on a near-nonstop run of eighty trips—roughly five trips a year—to almost every corner of the globe, constantly meeting strangers, often through the context of their food and culture, in the process making over 100 episodes of TV. In addition to the adventure of a lifetime, personal enrichment, and experiences he would never have thought possible, his work rewarded him with a PGA Award nomination, five Emmy wins and four nominations, a Gold World Medal for Best Non-Fiction Program, and he is credited on Parts Unknown's Peabody Award.
"A gripping and deeply personal book....[Vitale's] book details the utter frenzy and chaos of the shoots but also of his relationship with an incredibly complex but extraordinary man. The writing is truly sensational and visceral--I feel like I was there. And now I need a drink, or two."—Lisa Ling, host of "This is Life with Lisa Ling"
"That there still remain fresh, mesmerizing insights about life with Bourdain is astonishing, as revealed in the compellingly intimate new memoir by Bourdain’s longtime producer and director, Tom Vitale....In the Weeds is a fast-flying, deep-diving, funny, loving, tender, joyful, painful, jolting, twisted, tumultuous and shockingly wild ride. Reader: Hold on tightly....Details upon details unfurl, layer and build spell-binding and sometimes scary descriptions of TV-making goings-on of which viewers are mostly unaware....Spotlit are a sumptuous array of destinations....In the Weeds explores the tightrope of personal and professional longings and expectations; the complexities of borders and the people within them; the ache for mutual trust and the ache of distrust; the multiple meanings of home and family and friendship; the allure and intensity of lust and seduction. And Bourdain’s love affair with Asia Argento....Bourdain’s fans will find plenty to savor, think about and discuss. This is Vitale’s memoir, his singular account. Stones are lifted. Curtains are pushed back. An engaging narrative is woven. Vitale opens his heart and veins to create powerful, poignant, passionate prose. A page-turner, indeed."—Forbes
"Tom Vitale’s In the Weeds digs deep into how Bourdain lived....Mr. Vitale tells the stories others will not....Part memoir, part eulogy, In the Weeds is rambly and scattershot, big-hearted and engaging, all the qualities that fans loved best about Bourdain."—The Wall Street Journal
"In the Weeds is much more than a revealing behind-the-scenes peek at the making of two landmark television shows. It’s also a thoughtful and penetrating portrait of a man whose passion for life, curiosity about cultures, and love of a great meal revolutionized the way we think about travel. Best of all, Vitale’s own observations about each of the many filming locations are every bit as evocative as what viewers saw on screen."—Variety
“Bourdain's longtime director and producer shares stories and secrets from more than a decade of globetrotting with the beloved and complicated foodie/adventurer.”—Associated Press
"[Tom Vitale] captures countless obscure details of No Reservations and Parts Unknown, specifically honing in on how Tony perpetually raised the bar....And that's really the crux of the book — how challenging the show already was without the weight of people's expectations. Tony's were tough enough....With stunning detail and comedic timing that would make Tony proud, Tom drops us right into the action to explore what made his boss such a 'force of nature' and what it was like to lose him....The book is spit-out-your-tea funny....His account is the closest thing we'll ever have to being there in the weeds with Tony."—Huckleberry
"A fun book even as it’s tinged with grief and loss, as Vitale frames different sections with his present-day search for answers....Vitale resists the temptation to beatify Bourdain."—The OC Register
“A memoir of incomparable travelogues snatched from the clutch of chaos….Vitale’s memoir of those years—and of the vacuum in his life following Bourdain’s suicide—is a fascinating insider’s account of the making of groundbreaking TV. It is also the most complete picture yet of Bourdain’s complex and conflicted character…. Vitale’s writing is seductively alive, pulsating with events and vividly rendered observations of people and exotic locales, hairbreadth escapes, and all the high-wire escapades, cultural revelations, and ethical questions that accompanied being Bourdain’s traveling companion…. Drawn from show footage, notebooks, logs, travel itineraries, e-mails, and old receipts, his book is thrilling, sobering, harrowing, and as entertainingly frenetic as the events described, a tale told by a survivor still trying to make sense of it all. Clearly, watching Bourdain’s shows was nothing like living them, as this high-flying memoir amply demonstrates.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred)
“This adventurous and candid account is a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at Bourdain’s work and an honest story about persisting in the wake of loss. It will resonate with many readers as a travel and entertainment memoir, exploration of grief, and tribute to a beloved figure.—Library Journal (starred review)
“Vitale’s arresting tales of life as chef-turned-media star Anthony Bourdain’s longtime director and producer offer a vivid look at a demanding, passionate, volatile man…. As he reflects on more than a decade of working with Bourdain… Vitale shares mesmerizing recollections of their travels… while probing the fascinating and frustrating facets of the chef’s larger-than-life personality…. With this exhilarating travelogue, he paints a complicated portrait, packed with vibrant details.”—Publishers Weekly
“Accepting the impossibility of ever capturing the essence of such a brilliant, curious, darkly funny, loving, cruel, über-rebellious, wholly mercurial man, a shell-shocked Vitale still lays out an immersive narrative, rich with insight and detail, of their work together…. Vitale’s account might be as close to an authentic portrait of the late chef-traveler as readers will find.”—Booklist
“A revealing snapshot of what a television director has to do behind the lens to turn raw, unpolished travel footage into a glittering Emmy-winning gem....In the Weeds is emotionally exhausting, exhilarating, and fascinating… the most intense I’ve [read] in ages.”—TheTakeout
"[An] incredible book."—Dean Deltray's "Let There Be Talk"
“A deep insight into how powerful, impactful television is made and a plunging dive into Bourdain’s complicated character and personality.”—The Takeout
"An insider’s account that is about as close as we will ever get to fathoming Bourdain’s complex and conflicted character....Vitale clearly has too many stories to tell to fit into a single book. But those he does relate — harrowing, hilarious and everything in between — seem as fresh as the day they happened. And that is one of the strengths of In the Weeds, the you-are-there feel. It’s as much about Vitale’s observations as Bourdain’s, though the author never comes across as self-absorbed. Bourdain remains front and center."—Post & Courier