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Anthony Bourdain Saved an Octogenarian Olive Garden Reviewer From Internet Bullies
Anthony Bourdain was noted for treating international cuisine with due respect, but he also handled oft-dismissed American culinary traditions with just as much reverence. Case in point: When he championed an eighty-five-year-old Grand Forks, North Dakota restaurant reviewer, and published a book of her columns.
In 2012, food writer Marilyn Hagerty became briefly famous after her rave review of a local Olive Garden tickled the internet’s inner snob. “Next thing I know, they were telling me I was viral,” said a now 92-year-old Hagerty, who has been writing the Eat Beat column for The Grand Forks Herald for more than thirty years. “I didn’t know if that meant I was sick, or what.” But the attention given her sincere appraisal of a fast-casual chain restaurant was mocking and condescending, until Anthony Bourdain entered the story.
Very much enjoying watching Internet sensation Marilyn Hagerty triumph over the snarkologists (myself included) http://t.co/QErIcyPT
— Anthony Bourdain (@Bourdain) March 8, 2012
Bourdain invited Hagerty for coffee, and asked if he could compile her reviews in a book. The book was published the following year, and Bourdain wrote the forward himself.
“This is a way much of America eats,” Bourdain told CBS of his decision to publish Hagerty. “This body of work, these thirty years of reviews of dining in North Dakota is, in a sense, a history of dining in America.”
“When Anthony Bourdain said the Eat Beat was okay,” said Hagerty, “I think a lot of people changed their mind.” Though she only met Bourdain face-to-face on one occasion, Hagerty told The Hollywood Reporter that she remembers him fondly. “It was just how pleased I was that he was such a good-looking person,” she said. “Easy to visit with, very pleasant to meet.”