BOURDAIN, CNN TAKE OVER ATOMIC LIQUORS
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Travel and food writer Anthony Bourdain spent the most part of last week in town taping segments for the third season of his CNN show, but it was his publicized stop Sunday night at Atomic Liquors that drew the most attention.
Bourdain went live from the Fremont Street location for the season finale wrap-up of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. The one-hour special“Parts Unknown: Last Bite” packed the inside of building with guests of CNN and a few Las Vegas locals. The crowd included CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker, Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, celebrity reporter Robin Leach and a certain alt-weekly editor.
Bourdain is a celebrity chef, now more celebrity than chef, who has parlayed his epicurean vocation into a successful journalist franchise that includes, most recently, Parts Unknown. The show puts a spotlight on odd, exotic, and often unexplored parts of the world. Such as downtown Las Vegas.
Bourdain was joined by actor and activist Wendell Pierce from the HBO shows The Wire and Treme, Los Angeles chef and author Roy Choi, chef Marcus Samuelsson of New York City, CNN anchor Don Lemon and comedian Bonnie McFarlane.
The discussion focused on the series season finale from Detroit, gun control, obesity and other topics. A couple of hundred additional people watched the show from the bar patio, where Atomic Liquors had set up large screen televisions and brought in a pair of food trucks.
Sunday night capped a Las Vegas week that included stops at Jaleo at The Cosmopolitan, Eat restaurant downtown, Bootlegger Bistro, Raku and Lotus of Siam. Some stops were filmed for next season, while others were not.
Bourdain came to the Huntridge Tavern Saturday night, part of his quick tour that also included stops at the Golden Steer and Frankie’s Tiki Bar. Bourdain and his entourage kept the news of his appearance at the Huntridge Tavern quiet, so only a few hundred of his closest friends showed up, including apparently most of, if not the entire, chapter of the Hammer & Cycles bicycle club.
The Huntridge Tavern, a 50-year-old dive bar that refuses to acknowledge even the possibility of gentrification, had the TVs off for the first time in living memory. Before Bourdain appeared, the excitement in the room was palpable. Older women and men jostled for position at the bar with the H&C members and a few regular drinkers, who mostly looked a bit confused.
Bourdain’s eventual appearance prompted a scrum of people trying to take selfies with him in the background, despite the desperate pleas of production assistants not to take photos.
After about an hour, Bourdain and his crew packed up and left for other filming opportunities. College football came back on. The crowd drifted away. The regulars timidly poked their heads inside the bar, eventually returning to the video poker and beer that sustains them.
Editor Arnold M. Knightly contributed to this article. CL