Before “No Reservations” and “Parts Unknown”, Anthony Bourdan’s first food travelogue show was “A Cook’s Tour” on the Food Network. In the second season, he visited Texas, Kansas City, and NC – which he refers to as “the barbecue triangle” – and explored barbecue culture for what may have been his first time (at least on recorded camera).
The NC section (starts at 18:35) visits with Ed Mitchell at his old joint in Wilson to explore eastern NC barbecue and then with Bill Eason (vice president of the NC BBQ Society) and Jim Tabb (founder of the Blue Ridge BBQ Festival) in Marshville to learn about Lexington-style barbecue. Of all the barbecue he tastes that episode, he seems to come away most impressed by Mitchell’s eastern NC whole hog.
This episode first aired in 2003 on the Food Network. Bourdain has subsequently learned a lot more through his other shows, but it’s interesting to see where he started from. In any case, it’s all a bit quaint.