Anthony Bourdain’s Pittsburgh episode of his “Parts Unknown” series will air at 9 p.m. Sunday on CNN.
In it, Bourdain plays bocce ball in Bloomfield, possibly dons Lederhosen in Deutchtown — we’ll have to wait and see — and eats and drinks everything apparently.
Bourdain also makes the trip to Braddock where he has dinner with John and Gisele Fetterman at Chef Kevin Sousa’s Superior Motors.
We reached out to John Fetterman ahead of Sunday’s episode to see what they ate and what they talked about. Our questions and his answers, both lightly edited, are included below.
Q: What was your experience on the show like?
A: I had a wonderful experience. His crew was wonderful and courteous and engaged, and [Bourdain] was a pleasure to talk to. I hope he had as nice a time as we did.
With a politician in a campaign, they always say that the campaign staff is a reflection of the candidate, and his staff was super nice and super kind and he was, too. It must have been really hard for him, because he always has to be on and everyone has questions and Pittsburgh was really excited for his visit, but he never had that like, ‘Oh, God’ [attitude]. He was super engaged and asked really thoughtful questions.
I was just really impressed with it overall. I don’t know who bird dogged him to all the things he did in Pittsburgh, but they really did their homework, and I think that’s what makes the show so popular.
Q: Had you ever met him before?
A: No, I’ve never met Bourdain before this, but was aware of his body of work and everything like that.
Q: How much time did you spend together?
A: He hung out for well over an hour after the cameras stopped rolling, and it was really nice. We spent two to two and a half hours together. At the end I remarked to my wife that it was actually fun. We were kind of able to forget the cameras. It was just a bunch of people sitting down and talking over dinner, that’s what was cool for me in a sense when the cameras stopped rolling, the conversation still continued. It wasn’t like ‘Cut. [Groan].’ It kept going.
They hung around downstairs, and my wife got her picture taken with him, and he was super gracious about that. He couldn’t have been nicer.
Q: What did you eat?
A: We had dinner in Superior Motors. I would say it was about a month, give or take, from opening, so we set up a table, and Kevin cooked for all of us, and the food was spectacular.
Kevin made walleyed pike, and we had bread that he baked in the Braddock Community Oven and his own cultured butter.
The food was ridiculous and chef [Bourdain] really enjoyed it.
There were only three courses, and they told us in advance that Chef Bourdain isn’t a big dessert guy, so it was just three courses. I remember thinking Kevin really hit it out of the park.
Q: Bourdain’s dinner conversation is known for delving deep. What did you talk about?
A: Politics, gentrification. We talked about community revitalization. We talked about what an important part this restaurant is to Braddock’s ongoing revitalization, all kinds of stuff.
We just discussed that Superior isn’t like a gentrification play. Our issues and challenges in Braddock have never been displacing anybody, it’s been what do you do when 90 percent of the people have left. […] So I think that’s one of the reasons why Kevin, to his credit, took on the enormous challenge of opening a place like that out here.
Q: I have a feeling the subject of President Trump came up. Did it?
A: Well, yeah. Suffice it to say [Bourdain] is no fan, so, and, you know, it’s just again more lamenting the current state of affairs and how did we get here, and I think part of the explanation lies in western Pennsylvania and some of the circumstances that exist here.
We talked about how radically different everything is now since Trump’s election and just how everything has become political now and just the general conditions that exist in the country.
We kind of referenced that and I said it’s no secret Trump won Pennsylvania by big margins in small places, and I think a lot of people that voted for Trump, they’re not out there burning crosses and going to Klan rallies. Trump came at them in a way no one else has, and they live and grew up in a community that to them and outsiders appeared to be in perpetual decline over the last several decades.
Q: How did your appearance on the show come about?
A: [CNN] contacted us and said ‘We’re coming to Pittsburgh and would like to meet you guys and kind of check it out,’ and it kind of went from there.
Q: Were you surprised they reached out?
A: I wouldn’t say that I was surprised. I would say that it’s nice that somebody who’s held in such high esteem, like Chef Bourdain — and to be singled out among all of that is certainly an honor. That’s the way I looked at it.
Q: You’ve said you believe Superior Motors is a good thing for Braddock. Is Bourdain’s show coming to Braddock also a good thing?
A: Yeah, I mean, I think it’s good for everybody and if nothing else I had a great meal with a cool guy.
[…] It’s no secret that Pittsburgh is on a really strong upswing and under consideration from Amazon to be the home of their second headquarters.
And there’s good reason to feel bullish on Pittsburgh and southwestern Pennsylvania, but there’s a large segment of the state that’s been left behind, too, and that’s the reason I ran for office in 2016 and would run again, because a lot of that hasn’t panned out.
The life expectancy in McKeesport versus Upper St. Clair is almost 10 years less, the Post Gazette says. And you can drive between those two communities in the time it takes to hard boil an egg.