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Anthony Bourdain: I Got Scary Hate Mail After Paula Deen Dis

USMagazine, Tuesday, May 15, 2012, 11:20am (PDT)
  • Anthony Bourdain has learned an important lesson over the last couple of years: You don't mess with Paula Deen.

    In a Q&A with the new Rolling Stone (in the "Big Issue," which marks the magazine's return to a larger format and reaches subscribers this week), the bad-boy chef, 56, admits the backlash he faced from diehard Deen fans was a little "scary."

    "A year ago, before she announced that she has diabetes, I dared to suggest that the food she was advocating was dangerous for you, and I received a lot of scary mail and Facebook posts," Bourdain reveals. "It was the first time I've ever been frightened."

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    The "No Reservations" host -- who previously called Deen the "most dangerous person to America," who is "proud of the fact that her food is f---ing bad for you" -- says he knows he needs to work on reining in his sharp tongue.

    "I don't know what my problem is, honestly," Bourdain says. "Why can't I just live and let live? It's a personal failing."

    In January, Savannah, Ga.-based chef Deen, 64, revealed on the "Today" show that she was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes three years ago -- and simultaneously announced a deal with pharmaceutical giant Novo Nordisk to endorse a drug used to treat the disease.

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    Bourdain immediately slammed the Food Network host's new gig. "Thinking of getting into the leg-breaking business so I can profitably sell crutches later," he tweeted. (Speaking to Prevention magazine, Deen called his comments "very, very cruel.")

    In an April interview with "Good Morning America," Bourdain made an effort to clarify his comments, explaining that he wasn't attacking Deen's illness but instead what he saw as her irresponsibility and hypocrisy.

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    "There's a lot to admire about Paula Deen and her life," the Travel Channel host conceded. Still, having her brand represent "excess without guilt" -- even though she knew full well "in a very personal way what this could and might very well lead to" -- was in "excruciatingly bad taste," Bourdain said.

    "[To] turn around and roll out a $500-a-month diabetes treatment. ... It's unconscionable, cynical and greedy," he griped.

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