The Balvenie, the world’s most handcrafted single malt Scotch whisky, and Anthony Bourdain transcended upon Houston last week to share an exciting venture birthed from their partnership and collaboration. The goal of the visit was to shine a light on The Balvenie Rare Craft Collection in addition to celebrating those who are considered some of America’s most talented craftspeople.

As the curator of the collection, Bourdain will be at the forefront taking leading roles in the movement including the role as host of Raw Craft, a series of short films offering an inside and behind the scenes look into the workshops of the masterminds and their creative craftworks all while learning the true meaning of craftsmanship.

Via our private reception we got the opportunity to meet Mr. Bourdain himself, enjoy a tasting of the collection and witness the makers (who were individually selected by Bourdain) first hand. After enjoying samples of the single malt whiskey and wowing in the prowess of several of the craftsmen, like sculptor Sebastian Martorana and head cooper Ian MacDonald, we were led to a Q&A session with Anthony Bourdain and Jonathan Wingo, The Balvenie Ambassador for the Central USA.

The session started with several open questions about Bourdain’s work with the brand and his views on both the industry itself and the people who make it what it is. There was then a chance to get all in Bourdain’s business by asking questions that were a bit more personal. We learned some interesting tidbits during this portion of the evening:

  • From where a chef’s [his] satisfaction is derived: When you place the order in the window and say “that’s a damn good flounder”, but the minute it’s eaten, the feeling is over.
  • The best part of cooking: mise en place (to have all your ingredients prepared and ready to go before you start cooking).
  • The importance of this movement: “No matter what you show up every day and try to do better. I would like to see these people celebrated and inspire other people the way they inspire me. It doesn’t matter if I think it’s hopeless.”
  • The food that he would never want to eat again: Johnny Rockets.
  • The food he could eat everyday: “I could eat Japanese food for the rest of my life. Any food where they just really don’t care, I don’t want it. You don’t have to make fancy food to make something that people enjoy eating.”
  • His favorite experience on his show, No Reservations: “I’m most happy in Southwest Asia.”
  • His thoughts on fine dining: “I like to experience food emotionally and not intellectually or analytically. I’m not interested in fine dining or the best new restaurants.”

It was a once in a lifetime experience to meet and enjoy the presence of such an amazing culinary and intellectual talent.

More information on all of these initiatives is available to members of The Balvenie’s Warehouse 24. To sign up visit

Shanna Jones

Shanna is the co-founder and editor of Urban Swank. She focuses on food and travel.

November 14, 2015


Leave a Comment