Where Anthony Won't Be Eating: The Great Bourdain-Budacki's Scandal of 2012

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Budacki's crime. Photo: courtesy Anthony Bourdain via Twitter

Ouch! That would be the feeling that the owners of Budacki's, a hot dog stand on Damen just south of Lawrence, are feeling now. Their shot at stardom on Anthony Bourdain's jitter-paced Travel Channel show The Layover was peremptorily shot down when they put up signs encouraging customers to visit and meet Bourdain during the shoot on Saturday. Bourdain promptly tweeted that the shoot had been canceled, calling it "How NOT to get your place on TV" and later elaborating:

Unlike many similar shows, we try very hard to shoot a "normal" business day. A staged "audience" screws that whole dynamic up.

Well, sort of; when Bourdain went to Burt's Pizza for No Reservations, the crowd in the background was nearly all LTHers, recruited as extras. But we grant that that's different from the gaudy "personal appearance" Budacki's apparently promoted the shoot as. On the other hand, not that we recall a lot about Budacki's, which we probably last went to ten years ago, but we seem to recall that the management consists of an older Korean man and his wife, so the subtleties of television etiquette may have been somewhat lost on these people anyway.

But the big question is... Budacki's? How did that relatively obscure dog haus become the exemplar of Chicago hot dog-dom for Bourdain's show? We know how these shows find things to shoot in our city because we've been part of it; our brain was recently picked for another traveling food host's benefit and we threw out any number of good (to us) suggestions. (The funniest thing was that one of the places they'd read about and were interested in shooting, we had to explain, was actually our April Fool's joke.) So now we want to know— who's the Chicago food expert who has a jones for Budacki's and suggested it to Bourdain? Reveal yourself!

In any case, Bourdain seems to have had a better time shooting last night at a more acclaimed local spot— EL Ideas, where he left behind a bunch of tall boys for the staff. Lucky he didn't run into that other TV food host... to whom we made the same suggestion of a place to feature on TV.

UPDATE: Mr. Bourdain objected via Twitter to our assertion about the shoot at Burt's:

@GrubStreetCHI small factual matter: we did not pack Burt's with extras. When you assume you...

A friend of ours who was in the crowd also says he was invited but didn't know Bourdain would be there until he arrived. So it appears that word of the shoot passed from someone involved to top LTHers who, as it turned out, invited eGulleters rather than their own community to be at Burt's that night. So it is apparently true that the show did not directly recruit a crowd... but it's also true that everyone there was part of an online food community and did not turn up there by sheer luck.