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ANTHONY BOURDAIN PARTS UNKNOWN
Parts Unknown; Detroit
Aired July 4, 2014 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Detroit's the city of champions. The whole world knows that Detroit is the American city whose products have revolutionized our way of living. And only in Michigan, when you find the men and women whose talent made us the arsenal of democracy in wartime and the economic pace-setter in peacetime.
ANTHONY BOURDAIN, HOST: It's where nearly everything American and great came from. The things the whole world wanted made here. The heart, the soul, the beat of an industrial, cultural superpower. A magnet for everyone with a dream of a better future, from Eastern Europe to the Deep South. American dream, you came here.
The one straight ahead with the green roof?
CHARLIE LEDUFF, JOURNALIST: Yes. The big Rococo building, completely empty.
BOURDAIN: Empty? Unbelievable.
LEDUFF: The white one is being rehabbed. There's some money coming in. The one next to it on the right is completely empty. The gray pyramid with the spire on top sold for $5 million.
BOURDAIN: $5 million for that? That's -- you can't buy a garage in the Hamptons for that basically.
LEDUFF: $5 million for a skyscraper.
BOURDAIN: It is post-apocalyptic. I mean, it's like a science fiction film. What the hell happened here?
LEDUFF: Well, it is post-apocalyptic except for the fact that there's several hundred thousand people living here.
BOURDAIN: Detroit 2013. Charlie LeDuff is a writer, journalist, television reporter. He grew up here.
LEDUFF: But it used to be two million people. That was rubber. That guy was steel. That guy was a doctor. This was what made America. The road started here. The automobile. Frozen peas started here. Credit on a mass scale started here.
BOURDAIN: What was this like just before this? Twenty years before.
LEDUFF: It was insane. And this is when it was like twice as many people here. This is a consequence because all the whites went, they took their money, they took their factories. The black middle class maintained for a while. And then it got too rough for them. So there's little pockets of Ferrell hippies and older black folks, a couple of white folks, some Arabs. But this is 140 square miles. So you're going to get tall grass because it's back to the wild.
BOURDAIN: It is one of the most beautiful cities in America. It speaks of those industrial aid dreams of an endlessly glorious future. You know, the people who built these structures, they were thinking big.
LEDUFF: They were.
BOURDAIN: They were looking at a new Rome and they built it, actually. It's so awesome here.
Maybe the worm started to come here. The Packard Automotive Plant. Opened in 1903, it was considered the most advanced facility of its kind anywhere in the world. Huge, epically proportioned. I mean, 3.35 million square feet. Now, one man lives here. Al Hill.
ALAN HILL, RESIDENT: My name is Alan Hill. Welcome to my home. This room right here is the forge room. It was a former Packard Motor Car Company. I started living here about seven years ago. At that time, I was semi-apprehensive about the place and the goings on around here. But it turns out it's about as peaceful as the north woods. And not having a credit card or a mortgage payment or a car payment is a real blessing. There's a few nails here.
HILL: So what's happened here in Detroit is unfortunate, but, you know, it's a sign of the times. We will find out not only does it take a village to erase individual, it takes an entire world to support one city. You know, one city is suffering or one community is suffering, the entire world should pitch in and help elevate it instead of sit there and stare at it.
People have lost faith in a lot of things. Probably had to do with the faith they had in Detroit. You know once the industrial might of the entire world.
BOURDAIN: It's enormous.
HILL: Yes, it is. As far as a mile long, maybe a quarter of a mile wide. I've got a pretty good view from up here.
BOURDAIN: Yes. How many people worked here at its peak?
HILL: Well, during the war, there were like 33,000 people working here. It went out of business in '56. You know, they brought Studebaker in as a partner and Studebaker pulled them down.
BOURDAIN: This has been abandoned since the '50s?
HILL: Well, actually, what happened, in 1956, they rented out to various entrepreneurs. A sea warehouse, there's a truck and companies, guys were storing cars.
BOURDAIN: So how long has it been like this, though?
HILL: Most of this damage happened in the last five years.
BOURDAIN: Within the last five years?
HILL: China had this Olympia effort. Scrap metal went to a high price. So people come in here scraping. They took the windows out, they just destroyed everything.
BOURDAIN: The place is pretty much open to anybody who wants to come in.
HILL: Sure. A lot of urban explorers.
HILL: People shooting music videos, taking pictures. Oftentimes you see a wedding party come here. And, you know, they use this as a backdrop for their wedding and take pictures, videos and what have you.
You want to take pictures here. The place, like so much of Detroit, invites it. Urban exploring, as they call it, sifting through the remains of Detroit's great American ongoing tragedy, photographing them, posing in front of them is something of an irresistible impulse.
Detroiters hate it. All the visitors like us, I should point out, wallowing in ruin porn.
Well, is this part of the factory? Where are we standing?
HILL: This right here is where the assembly line was. This is a paint booth right here where they spray paint the cars. You can see in the forward they have the washmen to over spray. The assembly line ended 35, 40 feet over here. There's bridges here between here in the main building and the assembly actually came across the bridges. Looking at the possibly of an assembly line about three quarters of a mile long.
BOURDAIN: You're talking hundreds of thousands of people all working on the --
BOURDAIN: On the process.
HILL: Yes. BOURDAIN: I mean, this is sort of a kind of -- you know, it's not a
perfect model for Detroit, but it's a perfect model when a big factory goes down, it's not just 33,000 people. That's 33,000 families who are going to be eating dinner out less.
HILL: You've got a point there on that.
BOURDAIN: Most people I would guess have no idea what a Packard even was. We're talking about one of the great luxury cars in the world, yes?
HILL: Yes, it was the kind of car that everybody would love to have. Kings and queens, and every president wanted to ride in one. Popes and the Indian chiefs. A luxury car maker went out of business. You know? Little did they realize that was a trend that started here in Detroit and when it affected Detroit, it affected the entire world because it followed everybody home.
Might have been 50 or 60 years later, but it started here and then everybody else gets to experience the same problem that we're having. And another 20 years, this place probably won't be here and people won't even have any idea what went on over here.
BOURDAIN: It's hard to look away from the ruin. To not find beauty in the decay. Comparisons to Angkor Wat, Machu Picchu, ancient Rome are inevitable. Magnificent structures representing the boundless greens of the dead left to rot. Yet Angkor, that left his magna, people still live here. We forget that.
You tell people you go to Detroit and chances are somebody from the home team is going to say, "be sure to get a Coney." I never really understood that. I mean, I'm like 30 minutes from a place called Coney Island where presumably, they know something about freaking hotdogs, right?
Maybe the early Greeks or Macedonians who first experienced that golden land by the shore then took what they saw with them to Florida, Michigan, and beyond. Maybe they knew something. They've been doing Coneys at Duly's for over 90 years. That's almost as long as the hotdog's been around. And I can't tell you how deep this creation runs here. Deep dish in Chicago, cheesesteak in Philadelphia. You'll find some ambivalence. Not here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How are you, sir?
BOURDAIN: Good. Now, if I were from Detroit, would I be eating this with my hands or with a fork?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Probably with your hands.
BOURDAIN: All right. I'll do my best.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.
BOURDAIN: Logistical problems. That's delicious. This is the best of my only three Coney experiences.
You're open 24 hours.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir, 24/7.
BOURDAIN: I don't know (INAUDIBLE) watch like seriously drunk people trying to eat this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. We fun time.
BOURDAIN: Is it a skill that you learn overtime?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. It takes practice.
BOURDAIN: It's like kung fu. You know, you've got to just practice and practice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly. Practice makes perfect.
BOURDAIN: That's good. I think I better have another one of these.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, you should.
BOURDAIN: Yes, I'll be better at it the next time around.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One Coney with everything.
BOURDAIN: It seems like a simple thing. Hotdog, chili, raw onion, mustard, steamed bun. But the delicate interplay between these ingredients when done right is symphonic.
BOURDAIN: Detroit's problems are well-documented. A lot of attention has been paid to a history of spectacular mismanagement and corruption.
Detroit is hardly alone in this. (INAUDIBLE) in New York, we forget too soon, was a cesspit of mob influenced corruption. Chicago, Boston, machine politics, they wrote the book. But Detroit differs in that its scandal seems so comically lurid. So surrealistically squalid. The last mayor, Kwame Kilpatrick, is currently serving time in the jug for some of his less hilariously bent behaviors. Through all of it, one man seems to have known what's going on.
Adolph Mongo, political strategist, oracle, survivor. He's seen it all.
I know what I'm having, but I'd love a beer.
ADOLPH MONGO, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: It is a discounted place, man. I thought you drank, man. You drinking beer?
BOURDAIN: What are you drinking?
MONGO: I'm drinking vodka. BOURDAIN: I'll have -- I'll fold under pressure.
BOURDAIN: Then I'll think about a burger down the way. You having something to eat?
MONGO: I'm eating.
BOURDAIN: All right. I'll hold back. I will -- I will stick with this --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'll get you your drink and then you can decide.
BOURDAIN: Thank you.
I have to ask, you're born and raised in the Detroit area?
BOURDAIN: An academic star. Marine Corps. Journalism. Why did you never run for office?
MONGO: You got to be crazy. You know what? They don't want straight forward politicians. They don't last. You got to be real cold- blooded. Men are elected officials like working for the drug cartel. You can't get anybody any mercy.
BOURDAIN: Well, it seems that whatever might be in your heart and however pure you might be, when you finally arrive in office, somebody brings you a big dossier and opens it up and said, Mr. President, or Mr. Mayor, or Mr. Governor, this is the real situation. At which point it's an ocean trying to start making some serious accommodations.
BOURDAIN: So Kwame Kilpatrick. Want to flow in one there.
BOURDAIN: Old school --
MONGO: Greedy. He was greedy. I didn't support him in the beginning. And when he was -- and I was one of his biggest critics. But when he got in trouble, who he call? He called me.
BOURDAIN: He called you.
MONGO: I should have listened to my wife. She said, don't be messing with him.
BOURDAIN: Are there good guys out there? Presumably --
BOURDAIN: Run for office who would win?
MONGO: There's a lot of guys, yes. But they don't want to run. There's a lot of people.
BOURDAIN: Why don't they want to run?
MONGO: Because you've got to take the badge that come along with it. You got to take the garbage.
BOURDAIN: Why should a bright young guy out of -- fresh out of law school start thinking about running for anything in the city of Detroit?
MONGO: Yes, because sooner or later, it's going to be all right. It's going to be all right. It's a tough town.
BOURDAIN: Is Detroit going to turn things around? I could lie and tell you yes. But you know what? This city is screwed. Only place I've ever been that looks anything like Detroit does now, Chernobyl. I'm not being funny. That's the truth.
But you have to admire the bold, proud, ferociously enterprising survivors who decided to hang on, hang in, and figure out a way to not only survive, but do something extraordinary. There's Tyree Guyton's Heidelberg Project, the delightfully loony outdoor community art project that began in 1986 and now attracts 35,000 visitors per year from around the world.
LEDUFF: That was a buck in gas right there.
I love Detroit.
LEDUFF: You know, they got this field mowed last summer. The neighborhood lit it on fire.
BOURDAIN: Another block and more decay. And a liquor store. In this neighborhood, it's the only store for miles.
Just be right back.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How you doing?
BOURDAIN: Hey. How are you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Awesome spirit on you, man. God bless you.
LEDUFF: Hi, how are you?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ain't nobody do it like you.
LEDUFF: See you later.
LEDUFF: Cheers, man. Yes. You want one?
BOURDAIN: That's the benefit of a college education right there. People seem to like you in this town. Who hates you in this town?
LEDUFF: Who hates me in this town?
BOURDAIN: Nobody. Huh?
BOURDAIN: I'm guessing there are a number of politicians and former public employees who are not too happy.
LEDUFF: I don't know. You know, yes.
BOURDAIN: Yes, but let's face it. There's a whole lot of people out there who would be perfectly happy with just letting Detroit go.
LEDUFF: It already went. Look at this. See those lilies there? I call those the ghost gardens. Like they're all over like the houses that used to be, the gardens still come up.
Off the main drag --
LEDUFF: Girl, you're wearing the hat and everything.
BOURDAIN: A backyard.
LEDUFF: Thanks for coming. I never had such a good time.
BOURDAIN: A well-tended home surrounded by many neglected ones. An example of Detroit-style entrepreneurship. Greedy Greg's, a do-it- yourself barbecue joint, started by these two. Rochelle and Greg.
GREEDY GREG, RESTAURANT OWNER: I'm Greedy Greg.
BOURDAIN: On the menu, absolutely delicious straight-from-the-grill ribs and rib tips. But the really good stuff is inside. Superb smoked pork loaded collards, and mac and cheese.
Thank you so much. This is perfect. That's good.
LEDUFF: Well, I'm going to use this spoon here.
BOURDAIN: It's unbelievably good.
LEDUFF: What, the mac?
BOURDAIN: The greens are incredible.
LEDUFF: Oh, those are good.
BOURDAIN: So the greens, is that like smoked ham hoc?
ROCHELLE GREG, RESTAURANT OWNER: I can't tell you my secret.
BOURDAIN: You can't tell. Well, I'll tell you, those are some of the best greens I've ever had. No doubt about it.
LEDUFF: And this dude's been everything.
R. GREG: Come on now.
BOURDAIN: Yes. I've been all over the south. I've had a lot of greens and those are some -- they're not just delicious. They're luxurious. Big hunks of you-won't-tell-me-what in there.
R. GRE: I can't tell you my secret.
BOURDAIN: Will this kind of entrepreneurship lead Detroit out of its sinkhole? Probably not. I can't believe there's not a line of cars around the corner. That was good. But it's no longer about winning, is it? It's about surviving.
BOURDAIN: There are approximately 80,000 abandoned buildings within Detroit's 140-square-mile city limits. What that translates to, unfortunately, is about 14 acts of arson a day. Nearly 5,000 a year. That's just arson. That doesn't include the thousands of other types of fires and medical emergencies the Detroit Fire Department responds to every day.
With an ever-lower valued housing market where you can buy a home for as little as $500, many houses are burned down for the insurance. Many because angry neighbors desperate to hang on see abandoned structures taken over by crack heads or drug gangs.
With law enforcement stretched ridiculously thin, they resort to burning them out. They won't say it. I will. The Detroit Fire Department is underfunded, underequipped, often badly and incompetently led, and up against what seems like a never ending war.
A city on fire. Their safety equipment, their boots, their clothes are often moldering and shambolic. But they fight on.
This is the second time they've been to this house. If it happens to be arson, chances are no one will ever know for sure. Given the ever- shrinking resources available to the department, most fires can't even be investigated.
This fire is out within an hour. And after the fire, dinner.
The cliche is that firemen are great cooks. In this case, the cliche is true. Lieutenant Mike Devons and the boys of Squad Three are cooking up a family meal.
Is ever firefighter expected to cook reasonably well?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If they don't, they catch hell.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, in Detroit, yes.
BOURDAIN: It's almost a perfect society in that sense. Because in a perfect society, I believe everybody should be able to feed themselves and their friends or their family at least reasonably well. That if they're not able to do that, they should be shunned and demonized and marginalized.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, agreed. Most of the firemen are known for their cooking. We cook some outstanding meals. We've learned to shop. We've learned to shop with less to feed more. You don't want to be a belly robber. You better bring some food back for the boys.
BOURDAIN: Firefighters, in my experience, are a lot like the Marines I've met over the years. No matter how badly led, ridiculously underequipped, underappreciated, no matter how doomed their mission, they take a bizarre and quite beautiful pride in at least being screwed more than everybody else and doing it with style. They seem to do what they do for themselves. It's not a job. It's a calling.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is where the guys store their gear. As you can see, the gear is very weathered.
BOURDAIN: How old?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This gear is only a couple of years old. I mean --
BOURDAIN: But it gets beat up quick.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Got one new coat hanging in there, so there's a lucky guy that's got a new coat. But that gear's seen a lot of action.
BOURDAIN: Where's the fire pole, dude?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They took them.
BOURDAIN: Aw, man.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Late '90s, management took the poles out.
BOURDAIN: What -- that means little boy, you know, my age, it was all about Sparky the fire sliding the poles.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, I used to love sliding the pole. And the headquarters was three stories. So when you were sliding in that thing you had to really hold on because you were going for a ride. The old running board, we put up here. We don't use the running board, but this is how many companies we used to have.
BOURDAIN: What percentage of that number now?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Less than half. And we're fighting a lot more fires.
BOURDAIN: You know, I've got to say, the kitchen is looking pretty good.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's one of the best kitchens in the city.
BOURDAIN: Tonight's meal is being cooked by Paul. He's Squad Three's best, they say.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's reading the can. That's a good start.
BOURDAIN: Tonight's menu, crab cakes with a mix of actual crab, and this stuff. Sea leg. Maybe you know it from such beloved menu items as California roll. Hey, firefighters can't afford 100 percent jumbo lump crab meat, OK?
Do you know what this stuff is, by the way?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's fish, isn't it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pollack. Right. Yes.
BOURDAIN: It's a miracle fish. You can actually make beef out of this, or beef-like substance. Yes.
It should be pointed out that every meal is paid for by the crew on duty. They pool their money and shop as a unit.
What's the fire house favorite by consensus?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Steaks, man.
BOURDAIN: Steaks. If I were the -- you know, the regular cook here, the whole fire house would be in totally open rebellion?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why?
BOURDAIN: I'd be making stews because they're cheap and I think they're delicious. Plus I'd be trying it out like tripe and guts on you guys. I don't know how that would go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That would not go.
BOURDAIN: You'd be eating like Italian peasants every day if I was to cook here. That pretty much -- you'd have like a big bowl of stew with a big hunk of bread. And I would be about it. And I'd be pocketing the difference. Yes.
Lamb chops seared in the pan then finished over the grill. Then Caesar's salad with chicken.
Ever find out -- how are the other firefighters eating around the city?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, I got (INAUDIBLE). What are you guys having for chow?
BOURDAIN: You ever tempted to just kind of like, to the other guys, say, oh yes, we had like foie gras with truffles and --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All the time.
BOURDAIN: You know, the generation L.A. at the other day --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to be cooking lobster in a minute. Yes.
BOURDAIN: Yes. Lobster again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
BOURDAIN: You know, I keep telling the guys no more lobster, I just can't take it. We're free to eat?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nice job on the crab cakes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Full of meat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very tasty.
BOURDAIN: So if it's not good, you're not diplomatic about it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, not at all. No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We tell them nice try.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of cooks, they look at that kitchen, there's a lot of room and there's always a lot of spices. Our staples are always loaded. You can pretty much make anything in there. It's a good place to be a cook.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nice job there, Paulie.
BOURDAIN: Yes, well-done, sir.
Generally speaking, you eat fast. Because you never know. In all likelihood, you are not going to get to finish that meal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, obviously Tony is not doing any dishes.
BOURDAIN: I'll do all the dishes --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. Hell, no. No way.
BOURDAIN: Wouldn't be the first time, won't be the last.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No way. No way.
BOURDAIN: At this point, you may be asking, what about all the cool stuff I hear about Detroit? That's what you're thinking. The vibrant, new, do-it-yourself culture of urban renaissance, young entrepreneurs, artists, transforming the city one block at a time. Where's that?
Well, that is happening. Young, idealistic, true believing, hard- working creative people are indeed doing their best to bring light and hope and beauty to this greatest of cities. You've got to start with the deeply felt and absolute belief that Detroit is indeed a great city and that it is worth saving.
As utterly screwed as Detroit may be, you have to be a twisted, unpatriotic freak to not believe that. Behold the future.
LEDUFF: What, like cooking in a back alley?
LEDUFF: All right.
BOURDAIN: Chef Craig Lieckfelt has done what many would call a very unwise thing. After working at Gotham Grill and Jean-Georges in Manhattan, instead of staying where the money inarguably was, he returned to Detroit. He's been working to get a brick-and-mortar establishment going by first doing regular pop-ups here at Guns and Butter, tucked into the back room of an art gallery, under an overpass in downtown Detroit.
Do you have like a really weird attitude towards food in general?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's that?
LEDUFF: You know, you got -- like cigarettes, you get coffee.
BOURDAIN: Or all of that. We're going to eat well.
Charlie LeDuff may have a Pulitzer Prize, but his appreciation of fine food and dining is, shall we say --
LEDUFF: Is that cheese?
BOURDAIN: Lacking. Simply put, he's a Philistine. Worn egg yolk with a generous helping smelt grow on top. Egg with eggs? Yes, please. LeDuff scarves his like he's at Ruby Tuesday's.
You know, you get all these kids flooding into Detroit.
LEDUFF: Which is good.
BOURDAIN: Right. How is that going to play out? Will there be political leadership in place to manage that fairly?
LEDUFF: It will be fine. Everybody likes a nice little thing in an egg shell with caviar. Everybody. It's just all about keeping cool.
BOURDAIN: No, it won't be fine, David. It will not be fine if there's not political leadership. It will not.
LEDUFF: Well, you know, sometimes political leadership grows up out of what's happening. And we don't have any political leadership and this is happening.
BOURDAIN: Are you an optimist --
LEDUFF: I'm an optimist.
BOURDAIN: You're an optimist despite --
LEDUFF: I'm here in this -- I'm in this garage with you.
BOURDAIN: Chilled summer soup with melon, tomato, lemon Barbino broth.
CRAIG LIECKFELT, CHEF: Summer soup. All the melons from the market. The coriander blossoms, we actually picked from a farm right here in Detroit.
BOURDAIN: Beautiful. Thank you.
LIECKFELT: Thank you.
LEDUFF: It's good, isn't it? I would describe that -- if May I, Chef? As a light, airy gazpacho.
BOURDAIN: Delicious. I wouldn't even go that far.
The drop sees an opportunity to make a melon (INAUDIBLE).
LEDUFF: A little gin in it.
BOURDAIN: You're putting gin in your soup?
LEDUFF: Well, the soup is delicious. Let me -- let me try this -- BOURDAIN: You're on your own, dude. You know, when I was chef and
you poured gin in my soup, I would have stabbed you in the neck with my fork. I'm dying somewhere inside. You're like the worst-case scenario customer.
Next up, smoked mussels in a lightly steamed in white wine, aromatics and butter, served in a lobster broth with fried onions, honey and (INAUDIBLE). Quite delicious.
Baby Greek salad with beets, tomato and fennel. All sourced locally. A tribute to the Greek diners where Craig grew up eating with his family.
Steak can be running (INAUDIBLE) and see a restaurant in Vegas, and here he is in Detroit.
LEDUFF: Well, guess what?
BOURDAIN: That's heroic thing.
LEDUFF: The headaches are less. You're appreciated here.
BOURDAIN: No. This is -- no. This is --
BOURDAIN: This would be considered foolhardy venture in the chef world.
LEDUFF: Guess what? We like good food, too. We're not space aliens.
LIECKFELT: People say -- they often say, thank you. Like -- we just moved back from Chicago. We lived in Chicago the last six years. We lived in L.A. the last six years. Thank you, this is exactly what we wanted.
BOURDAIN: What you've done is counterintuitive. I mean, there is sort of conventional career path for chefs.
BOURDAIN: Instead, you decide to go to Detroit.
LIECKFELT: Hell yes. Come back home. People think I'm crazy for going back to Detroit.
BOURDAIN: Then another tribute to classic Detroit. Potato filled (INAUDIBLE) and kielbasa simmered in white wine, thyme and fennel seeds. Finished with burr fondue and burr butter pine nuts. Followed by locally sourced lamb cooked perfectly. Topped with sour cherries, mulberries, toasted pistachios, coriander, and yogurt sauce.
In what way does opening a fine dining restaurant in Detroit benefit the majority of Detroiters?
LIECKFELT: How is it not making it better? How is sitting back not doing anything making it better? How is it only buying my products from Detroit or farmers in Detroit not helping Detroit? I'm supplying from Detroit. I'm hiring people from Detroit. Everybody here lives in Detroit.
BOURDAIN: If I were asked the same question, I would say I don't -- you know, I'm doing what I do well.
LIECKFELT: Right. Exactly. I mean --
BOURDAIN: I'm doing it in a place I love and I am demonstrating that yet another person gives a -- about Detroit and believes in it enough to be here.
LIECKFELT: You're 100 percent right. I never really thought about it. Until you asked that question. It's like -- to me, it's just obvious.
BOURDAIN: What will the Detroit of the future look like? Whatever you may think it should look like, it will probably taste like this.
Hey, people, I hope you're enjoying our trip into the greatest city in America, Detroit. I am live in Las Vegas. I got a beer in hand and in 20 minutes, I'll be here with some of my friends, like Wendell Pierce, Marcus Samuelson, the hilarious Bonnie McFarlane, and we're going to confer on all the big moments of season two. The ups, the downs, and all the glorious insanity of that Tokyo episode. Stay tuned.
BOURDAIN: Somewhere in this unassuming neighborhood, one can sit down for an excellent meal. But you won't find this place on yelp, and unfortunately, I cannot tell you where it is exactly. Why not, you ask? It's not exactly a restaurant, you see, which means it's not, strictly speaking, legal.
What is this place?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pupusa house. I call it pupusa house. I mean like a pupusaria, I guess, you could say.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a cultural thing. Traditionally they serve out of their houses. And it's just something that people bring over and they come. So this is about as traditional as it gets right here.
BOURDAIN: It's just like home.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
BOURDAIN: This is what's called a Pupusa house. Literally, a house. This one serving home-cooked Salvadorian meals. Once a living room, now the main dining area. The woman running it, we can't show her face, but she's been here for 10 years serving a mostly Salvadoran clientele, looking for a taste of home.
First up a staple done a little differently than the norm. Tamales wrapped in banana leaf and steamed.
Next the dish of the house, pupusas. Tortillas stuffed with ground pork or chicharon.
You have pupusas in Nicaragua, in Guatemala. But for some reason, Salvadorian pupusas get the most respect. General consensus seems to be they're the best. How come?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would agree.
BOURDAIN: George Azar is our Detroit fixer. He's been coming here with his friend Joe for years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is what makes it right here, boom, is this. Cortido.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cortido. It's like the pickled (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then I'll do this but I don't know if you (INAUDIBLE).
BOURDAIN: What are you saying?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know if you can hang, man.
BOURDAIN: Is it a manly thing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, it's turning into it, it seems like.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mexican spice. Salvadorian, not spicy.
BOURDAIN: That's true, though. They don't like it. They don't it that spicy. Wow. Chicharon? Yes. This is porky goodness in there, that's for sure.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chicharon is fried pork. Fried pork and then ground with pepper and tomato. Simple.
BOURDAIN: Taking the liberty of ordering some indigenous Detroit beverages that we've egregiously overlooked so far. Now we (INAUDIBLE) which I have --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like a cross between ginger beer and ginger ale. It's like not as spicy as ginger beer and not as sweet as ginger ale. It's like in the middle. It's my favorite beverage in the city.
BOURDAIN: I needed this to enhance my street cred in Detroit. Then I will be welcomed back. Then pollo asado. A shrimp and garlic butter. Let's shrimp head on,
thank you very much.
This is where it's at. God lives in there.
Butter, garlic. Simple, delicious.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's the low-fat butter.
BOURDAIN: That's good.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
BOURDAIN: It's like a big hug. How did you find your way here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Honestly, it's only word of mouth.
BOURDAIN: Yes, but you have annoying foodie Web sites, right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But they're not coming here.
BOURDAIN: They're not coming here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, no.
BOURDAIN: There are thousands of foodies with ironic sunglasses and fedoras and they're just weakly get in here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't want this place to come -- I get mad at him when he starts bringing different people.
BOURDAIN: Really? You'd hate a line of people outside waiting --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
BOURDAIN: Two-hour wait to get in here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
BOURDAIN: I don't want to wait for my plate. Who hates money?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With her, it's not about the money. It's about keeping the tradition alive.
BOURDAIN: What happens when a city goes bankrupt? When it's at the point that it's actually considering selling what's left of itself in chunks. In Detroit, city services are reduced or cut out completely. Fewer buses, fewer cops, fewer firefighters. Answer, they turn to each other for help or figure out how to do it for themselves. Detroit has a reputation as a tough town, but that toughness is about resilience, too. The insistence on sticking with it, no matter what.
On not giving up in the face of the utter failure of leadership year after year. If the city abandons its parks and leaves them to become overgrown, eaten by so much of the rest of the city by tall grass and weeds, then somebody has got to do something, right?
Meet the mower gang. Started by this guy, Tom Nardone, with a simple mission of doing what they can to keep Detroit's abandoned parks maintained.
Who are you guys and what are you doing here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are the Detroit mower gang. And we clean up the abandoned parks and playgrounds in this town.
BOURDAIN: Why would you do that?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kids need a place to play. I don't care who you are. You know, if you're under 10 years old, I think you deserve some justice in this world, don't you think?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
BOURDAIN: How did this thing start?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I guess I started it. I bought a lawn tractor when the city announced they're closing 72 parks.
BOURDAIN: What does it mean (INAUDIBLE) open and close?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
BOURDAIN: They're just going to stop maintaining?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's it.
BOURDAIN: Or are they actually physically shut it up?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no. They don't physically shut it up. Because there's no money here.
BOURDAIN: Just physically shut it up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. They just -- they just take the trash barrels away and stop mowing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a strange place, Detroit. When we're done here, it will not look like a nice park.
BOURDAIN: But still a playable park.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. And a visible park. So if you had kids, you could see what they're doing in this park. It's safer.
BOURDAIN: All right. Well, let's cut some grass.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Come on, you'll like it. It's fun. BOURDAIN: There's grass in my beer.
BOURDAIN: In Detroit approximately 40 square miles have been reverted to basically unused green space. In many cities, so-called urban farming may be looked upon by cynics like my as an affectation.
Here in Detroit, it's not. With nature taking back the landscape block by block, the urban farm is really the last line of defense. D- Town sits on the western border of Detroit.
Where are we?
MALIK YAKINI, ROUGE PARK: We're in the largest park in the city which is called Rouge Park.
BOURDAIN: Did you just come in and start digging or did you have permission to come in?
YAKINI: We had permission to come in.
BOURDAIN: Was that difficult?
YAKINI: It was very difficult. We negotiated with the city for two years. Part of the difficulty was they really didn't know what hook to hang our request on. They're used to developers come and say I want to build a strip mall or I want to build a parking structure. But they're not used to people saying, we want land to build a model organic farm.
BOURDAIN: Malik Yakini started the farm with the goal of providing greater access to fresh produce in areas that grocery stores have completely abandoned. That's basically all of Detroit's inner city.
Other than Whole Foods that just came in.
BOURDAIN: Not a single national food chain.
YAKINI: No. No. In 2007 Farmer Jack closed his last stores in Detroit. And that was kind of the end of the big chains in Detroit.
BOURDAIN: This is subsistence farming, not cash crop. You're not going to be --
YAKINI: No, no --
BOURDAIN: You're not anticipating selling outside of Detroit.
YAKINI: There's greater demand in Detroit than all of the farmers locally can supply. So first we want to supply that local demand in the city of Detroit. BOURDAIN: To what degree do you think that this model can be
replicated in and around the city?
YAKINI: Well, clearly, we think urban agriculture has great potential. And one of the things that we have in Detroit is access to huge amounts of land. If we're able to produce even a small percentage of the food which is consumed in Detroit and circulate the revenues from that food within our community, then we're able to create a more vibrant, healthy, economically strong community. So we think it has tremendous potential.
BOURDAIN: Who will live in the Detroit of the future? There's no question, is there, that Detroit will come back? In one form or another, a city this magnificent, this storied, this American cannot, will not ever disappear into the weeds. There are too few places this beautiful for it to be allowed to crumble like Ankor or Rome.
Someone will live in a smaller, tighter, no doubt hipper, much contracted new Detroit. But who will that be? Will it be the people who stuck it out here, who fought block-by-block to keep their city from burning, who struggled to defend their homes, keep up appearances as all around them their neighborhoods emptied.
What will Detroit look like in 20 years? Or 50? That's not just a Detroit question. That's an America question.
Hi. We're live smack in the middle of shooting new episodes but taking a break here at Atomic Liquors in Las Vegas to look back at the filth, the fury, the weirdness, and deliciousness of season two. Including our disturbing psychoclassic Tokyo.
We're talking about issues raised and maybe looking forward a bit to what's next.
(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)
BOURDAIN: From the crowded multi-layered pinball streets of Tokyo.
It was the greatest show in the history of entertainment.
To the overgrown lots and empty factories of Detroit.
What the hell happened here?
This season has been a wild ride. Big game in South Africa. Small rodents in New Mexico.
We've got a lot of them in New York.
The less and gentle crusting into (INAUDIBLE) region by a bull of faith.