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Monday, January 9, 2012

Tonight: Rice Paper Scissors Spars with Anthony Bourdain on the Travel Channel

Posted By on Mon, Jan 9, 2012 at 12:00 PM

Anthony Bourdain loves to come to San Francisco on a travel show budget, make fun of its citizens for being snobby, weirdo hippies, and then declare he loves it here and eat all our food. It's his pattern. He was in fine form when he visited with The Layover, his new Travel Channel show where he spends one or two days in a city to "unleash an unpredictable story about a place, a people and their food."

His episode focusing on San Francisco airs tonight, and we talked all about the big man with featured guests Valerie Luu and Katie Kwan of Vietnamese pop-up Rice Paper Scissors.

First, Luu notes, "He was supposed to come a few hours earlier... it was fine, it was no big deal. I think what might've held them back a little bit was the fact that his camera man had jumped into the pool at the Tonga Room earlier in the evening. By then, we were all very lax, very chill, I think a lot of Tecate helped."

They ran out of beers before Bourdain arrived, but the community rallied. "Some very eager fans gave us their fancy stouts to give to him," Luu says.

Luu continues, "It was awesome. My family was there, and at one point, Bourdain asked, 'What do your parents think of this?' I said, 'Why don't you ask my mom, she's right here.' I don't watch much TV, but my parents are big Bourdain fans. I feel like Anthony Bourdain validated my work. They were so stoked."

We asked what Luu's parents said to Bourdain. "'At first I was very concerned,'" Luu said, in the voice of her own mother. "'I paid $20,000 for her to go to college, and now she's selling food on the street. But, you know, if she's happy, I'm happy.'" 

As far as what happened on air, Luu says, "I thought our conversation was kind of interesting. He asked, 'Are you guys activists? Are you performance artists?' and we turned the question back around on him. We didn't say it outright [on the show], but we do what we do because we're passionate. We think it's cool, we want to make it happen, regardless of how hard it is. We just believe it should exist." 

Relatedly, Luu confirms that Rice Paper Scissors went legit about two months ago -- business license, catering permit, commercial kitchen, and all -- and used SFoodie's series as a guideline. Congrats, RPS!

Watch the San Francisco episode of The Layover tonight on the Travel Channel, and get your own taste of Rice Paper Scissors in person on Fri. and Sat, January 13th and 14th, for their Dungeness Crab pop-up dinners in the Mission.

Laura Beck is a founding editor of Vegansaurus! and tweets at mrpenguino. Follow SFoodie on Twitter: @SFoodie, and like us on Facebook.
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