Who Cooked It Better? Tony Bourdain vs. Hezbollah Tofu

anthony_bourdain-cc.jpghezbollah-tofu.jpgIn last week’s Who Cooked It Better?, Giada De Laurentiis put some serious smackdown on Rachael Ray. With more than 340 of you weighing in, Giada’s prosciutto-wrapped scallops are preferred to Rachael Ray’s by a whopping 86% to 14% margin.

Speaking of RayRay, she may be on the market for a new nemesis, because her frequent sparing partner, Mr. Anthony Bourdain, has a powerful new enemy.

You may remember that Bourdain earned the ire of the vegetarian/vegan community with this quote:

“Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter faction, the vegans, are a persistent irritant to any chef worth a damn. To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living. Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, and an affront to all I stand for, the pure enjoyment of food.”

Well the folks over at the new Hezbollah Tofu blog are putting their money where their morals are. They’re cooking their way through Bourdain’s classic Les Halles Cookbook, in an attempt to prove that his fatty, meat-y, extra cheesy recipes can be just as tasty sans the animal products. Hezbollah Tofu’s first challenge is one of the Les Halles mainstays: French onion soup.



Bourdain’s version, on the left, starts with a meat-heavy broth that calls for both chicken stock and bacon. Complicating life for the vegans is a whopping six ounces of butter. This delectable mess is topped with crispy baguette croutons and grated Gruyere cheese. (Real, imported, Gruyere, obv.) If that’s not enough food snobbery for you, the recipe calls for a Bouquet Garni (that’s chef-speak for parsley, thyme and bay leaf). Complete recipe here.

It obviously won’t be easy for Hezbollah Tofu to top Tony B’s gooey bowl of goodness, but she gets downright creative on Bourdain’s ass, losing the bacon and subbing in black trumpet mushrooms blanched in a sherry/vegetable stock mixture. And this is no bland, tofu-based fake cheese – tahini, nutritional yeast, lemon juice and more go into this delicate un-cheese. In a final attempt to out-fancy Bourdian, the vegan FOS is topped with toasted almonds. Complete recipe here.

So, dear readers…
[poll id=”8″]
Photos: Chowhound, Hezbollah Tofu.

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  • It's Boiling April 8, 2008  

    Tony, it looks like you’ve been Bourdained – how ironic.

  • gansie April 8, 2008  

    although i voted for AB, i was impressed with the tofu’s “black trumpet mushrooms blanched in a sherry/vegetable stock mixture”

  • JoeHoya April 8, 2008  

    Agree with Gansie – HT gets credit for getting creative, but it’s just not French Onion Soup without a meat-based stock and real cheese.

    Is HT pushing votes her way? Surprising that she’d be out to such a big early lead over AB.

  • El April 8, 2008  

    I agree that the vegie rendition sounds good. But it is NOT french onion soup. If I order that soup, it better have a big ole hunk of cheese on top or I will not be happy.

  • gansie April 8, 2008  

    and maybe i’m naive, but i had no idea how many meat products went into french onion soup.

  • Tim April 8, 2008  

    Voted for HT, simply because Bourdain’s comments reeked of snobbery, prejudice, and a closed mind.

    HT’s soup is like a steaming hot bowl full of middle fingers.

  • Cebsie April 8, 2008  

    Mr.Bourdain simply has no clue. I voted for Hezbollah Tofu not only because I am vegan, but also because this recipe proves that vegans can create great meals.

    Prior to going vegan I ate a very standard American diet. It was truly sad. Since beginning my vegan lifestyle my food choices, my adventures into the culinary cultures of other countries and people have expanded greatly. Veganism is not a salad diet like so many think, there are many many fantastic things out there and this just proves it more.

  • DD April 8, 2008  

    HT all the way. Bourdain took the easy way out. “ehh, some chicken, some butter etc, etc” all the boring, unoriginal stuff. But HT got creative and tried something different.

  • DR April 8, 2008  

    I voted for HT. I don’t eat much French onion soup, but I don’t remember ever having any with meat chunks in it and don’t think I’d like that. I do like mushrooms with onions, though.

  • MissGinsu April 8, 2008  

    I don’t know… I’m all for creativity and supporting the underdog, but I think the soul of an onion soup has got to be insanely long-cooked onions that are treated with utter simplicity. Neither of these recipes really represents that ideal. I give a very reluctant vote to AB and stick with Julia Child on this one.

  • Jillian April 8, 2008  

    Bourdained! Burn.

    Look it up.

  • Meat Lover April 8, 2008  

    How is this even close. Come on. I am sure the Tofu soup tastes good, but as the saying goes…bacon makes it better.

  • Strawberry23 April 8, 2008  

    I personally think some wonderful dishes can be made vegan… HOWEVER, I always notice a difference in the taste. It doesn’t mean they’re not good… just different.
    I myself don’t mind if other’s choose to be vegan, or not eat meat, but I hate it when it’s pushed on me like the “right moral choice”.
    I think if I were actually going to eat it, I’d like the one with meat and cheese better. So I voted for AB.

  • Maidelitala April 9, 2008  

    As a veggie with lactose intolerance I voted for HT, but I think I’d make the dish with a veggie soup base and some lactose free mozzarella cheese sprinkled with nutritional yeast. Yum yum… The meat-base is unnecessary. There are plenty of substitutes for beef broth that taste just as yummy flavored appropriately (caramelized onions, ny, roasted garlic cloves, bay leaves and seaweed flakes for thickness. Mr. Bourdain is a close-minded clod, and uncreative to boot if he gets so annoyed by vegetarians (vegans are a little more annoying, I admit). come-on… gourmet flavoring involves more than lard-from-some-young-calf…there are plenty of yummy alternatives.

  • gansie April 9, 2008  

    Benjamin: Hey, who wants Chinese take-out? I know a great place!
    Wayne Campbell: I’ll have the “cream of sum yung guy”.

  • JoeHoya April 9, 2008  

    Party on, Wayne!

    Somewhere, Mike Myers felt relevant again for just a moment.

  • Jiggle Billy April 9, 2008  

    Pussies like Bourdain grew up with kid-gloved lily-white hands in the land of civilized ease. Twenty bucks says his knees would buckle at the outset of a hysteric sobbing fit if he ever had to kill and butcher a veal calf. I’ll call you on it, Bourdain, a vegetarian former farm boy can still whip your ass at a slaughter and still have the wherewithal to calm your tear-streaked, trembling body down after you nelly out. Hez Tofu wins hands down, if for no other reason than they’re making creative substitutions instead of conservatively sticking to the dogma of a recipe that’s been around since gauls discovered onions and lard.

  • BS April 9, 2008  

    now that’s what I call a comment.

  • bazu April 11, 2008  

    I wouldn’t encourage AB… he’s documented enough slaughters in his books/t.v. shows, and I’d hate to see another animal get killed publicly, just for him to prove, for the umpteenth time, that he is macho.

  • ML April 11, 2008  

    I voted for HT because their version of french onion soup is truly gourmet, inventive and creative. The recipe definitely surpasses AB.

  • dishhead April 11, 2008  

    Jiggle Billy – I guess you haven’t read the chapter in “A Cook’s Tour” where he slaughters a pig in Portugal?

    Anyway, I voted for Bourdain because I don’t object to Vegan food (I made a kick-arse chickpea and garlic soup last night) but lame ingredient substitutions (fake cheese, fake meat) are teh 5uxxor.

  • Vi April 12, 2008  

    There is no fake meat or cheese in the HT recipe. It sounds perfect and scrumptious. YUM.

  • Heza April 12, 2008  

    HT’s soup looks delish! I’ve never been a fan of food-snob Bourdain anyway, and this dish certainly hasn’t changed my mind – it looks boring and heavy.

  • xstunted_pilot April 13, 2008  

    yes, vegans can be mildly obnoxious at times, but the endlessly- holier-than-thou Bourdain is a total clod with no concept of originality and hence, ten times more obnoxious than even the most diehard vegangelical-type.

    and for embracing vegan cooking for being just that–vegan cooking–and not trying to fake the real thing with likely minimal success, i gotta go for HT on this one. and every one.

  • TG April 13, 2008  

    Anthony Bourdain is a whiny, arrogant, oily-skinned, sickly-looking old bag of bones, and after taking just one look at that creep, it’s amazing to me that anyone would want to share his diet. I don’t know what is more disgusting – his self-important, trying-way-too-hard-to-seem-cool attitude (How could anyone take this clown seriously? He looks like he’s pushing 70 and he still wears an earring, fer cryin’ out loud!) or the Fear Factor-like variety of stomach-churning, carcass-based meals on his show. Everything about Bourdain and his show gives me the creeps or makes me feel like vomiting. If the show is still on the air, I hope it’s canceled soon. There’s enough trash on TV as it is.

  • chefdzl April 13, 2008  

    I find Bourdain’s comments quite typical of a chef……being one myself….and also a vegan. I voted for HT on this one because I believe that cooking any vegan meal is truly a test of a good chef because it relies solely on flavors and not an unhealthy protein to mask the inabilities of a chef. I am a firm believer that if you start with a quality ingredient and cook with passion………even meat free dishes can tantalize any palate. So Chef Bourdain please keep preparing your unhealthy soups comprised of fat, fat and topped with fat……when your customer base dies from obesity related diseases, I’ll still be feeding my vegan friends long into their longer years.

  • airfigaro April 14, 2008  

    Any chef that is annoyed by a vegan request is a lazy bum. I thought cooking was an art. Be creative!!! That’s why I voted for HT.

    BTW, I wouldn’t call anything in the vegan creation ‘fake.’ They are just substitutes.

  • Czari April 14, 2008  

    Surely “any chef worth a damn” should be able to cook vegetables, shouldn’t they?

  • Celeste April 14, 2008  

    My vote goes to HT, simply because Bourdain (and those like him) are the true “enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit”. It is just sad and pathetic to consider the death of animals for gluttony and ‘enjoyment’ everything that is pure a good. Before you vote us vegan’s evil, just remeber who’s hands are covered blood… ? Go back to your cave Bourdain…that’s how creative you really are.

  • Snowpea April 14, 2008  

    As a fan of Bourdain, I’d say read his book, Kitchen Confidential, before you judge him too harshly. You’ll get a pretty interesting look a inside a kitchen and let me tell ya, it’s not snobbish! But it’s raw and it’s hilarious.

  • Katie April 14, 2008  

    I voted for Hezbollah Tofu’s french onion soup because I think the ingredients are more flavorful, gourmet, and innovative, and I admire the spirit in which they are recreating Bourdain’s recipes.

  • M April 14, 2008  

    I had to vote for the tofu people for sheer creativity. They make some interesting food choices and I’d be interested to try it.

  • Amber April 15, 2008  

    Yum for the tofu! Soooo delish!

  • Chloe Jo April 16, 2008  

    Happy to share with you how disgusting meat, milk, and cheese are anytime. Feel free to check out http://www.meetyourmeat.com, and see if you still want a bit of feces, anti-biotics, cancer, and hormones with your dindin. GO VEG; it CAN be gourmet, divine, and you’ll look and feel absolutely GORGEOUS.

  • Gabrielle April 16, 2008  

    As a fairly recent omnivore (I went veg in August of ’06), and someone who has read Kitchen Confidential and A Cook’s Tour, and seen all of Tony’s shows on both Food Network and Travel Channel (I guess you can say I’m a “fan”), I’d have to admit I see Bourdain’s point, but as with most of his opinions, it is extreme. I once loved all that is pig myself, but I know better now.

    While I am an ethical vegetarian, almost vegan (no dairy or eggs except minute amounts in the occasional processed foods), I fondly remember the flavors of bacon, meat stocks, and good cheese, but… I get excited when I see someone turn a recipe around and make us all realize that we CAN in fact survive, and ENJOY FOOD without the use of animals as products. I voted for HT!

  • Rocky April 16, 2008  

    OMG…the vegan onion soup is really good.

    I wonder if Anthony Bourdain thinks certain ethnic foods are crap also. Because Vegan eating has kind of become a cultural think (The culture of the evolved), and I just curious to know if he just has a VERY narrow taste pallet or if he is just trying to say somethign shocking. If he is just saying something negative about vegan cuisine for shock value I can kind of respect that because I can see where it comes from (Trying to get attention and make money). But, if he truly means what he says…it makes me lose respect for him because it just mean he doesn’t respect cultural food. oh well….whatever. lol

  • on the fence April 16, 2008  

    I loved meat but for the past 16 days I haven’t eaten any meat and i’m still trying to get into the whole veggie diet but even before this veggie kick i wouldn’t have eaten ABs recipe! i don’t like mushrooms but it sounds waay better than the other option.

  • Turkey Lover April 17, 2008  

    I absolutely love the HT version. Traditional versions taste rancid to me. When you meat-eaters floss your teeth, take a sniff of the floss. If you have any animal protein stuck in your teeth, it smells like rancid decaying flesh. That’s because it is. We veggies don’t have stinky floss. So there. 😉

    We became vegetarian a few years ago. I had a close-up encounter with a tame turkey. When he saw me, he was so happy and excited to see me his neck would turn light red when I approached. I could feel a bond with this rescue animal. Since that day I have become much more aware of the emotions of animals, and I refuse to eat anything abused and butchered in cruel and inhumane ways at factory farms. I wish people wouldn’t eat animal flesh, but if they do, I hope they ensure the animals are kept healthy and treated with respect. Maybe some people need to take a factory tour. I’m not trying to be condescending; I just think more awareness would change our eating habits, to say nothing of leaving more food for the rest of the world.

  • Fred The Black Dragon Correa April 17, 2008  

    We gotta show this fucker we vegans ain’t here for jokes and kick serious ass.

  • MJ April 18, 2008  

    I voted HT. I actually tried the recipe and loved it. I’ve had a lot of french onion soups before I turned vegan and this definitely compares imo. Actually better because I didn’t feel the belly bomb meat and cheese always gave me. Sorry AB’s prejudice and close-mindedness definitely shows the lack of knowledge and respect he has on what it means and is to be vegan.

  • Pam Montry April 18, 2008  

    Thanks HT for the recipe – I am anxious to try it this weekend. If feels so wonderful to not eat dead flesh anymore. Since I gave up eating meat, I’ve discovered so many new and delicious foods. I never realized what a boring and unhealthy diet I had before. It’s like a whole new world. Dinner sure tastes better when your food didn’t die begging for its life.

  • LP April 20, 2008  

    Cheers to HT! Bourdain is so snobby and pseudo-macho. What’s more, his recipe is COMPLETELY predictable, not to mention terrible for you. As if obesity, heart disease, and cancer aren’t prevalent enough in America. I would opt for the more creative, and more healthful version of any recipe ANY day.

  • Anthony April 21, 2008  

    Mind the language, but…

    Anthony Bourdain can go to Hell on a hot plate.

  • Libby April 22, 2008  

    I have to agree that french onion soup needs cheese. Dipping that crusty bread and cheese in the broth is the whole thing. I don’t think you need to use meat broth, bacon or any butter at all. A vegetarian FOS is incredibly easy to make, but for vegan, this is a great recipe. Its all about diversity; and anything that makes you appreciate and love your food not matter how you eat is a fantastic thing.

  • Aurora April 22, 2008  

    While I think the suffering of animals doesn’t add to the flavor of my food, perhaps Mr. Bourdain would prefer sucking the tastes of
    Guolizhuang, located on Beijing’s elegant West Lake, brings together every known dish containing either an animal’s penis, its testicals, or both. For prices starting at RMB200 ($25) you can savour specialities like “Head crowned with a Jade Bracelet” (from Xinjiang horses) or “Dragon in the Flame of Desire” (yak). The top dish, Canadian Seal Penis, requires ordering in advance. Be prepared to shell out RMB3,000.

  • JD April 22, 2008  

    This statement made by Mr Bourdain about vegetarians and vegans was honestly one of the most idiotic, ignorant and hateful statements I have ever heard, again, towards people that choose not to contribute to the suffering of animals. As usual, another moron just making himself look worse then he already does. Good luck with your diet buddy, just don’t look at me when its time for your heart, liver, and lung transplant….

  • Planet Gargos April 22, 2008  

    guys, he was being deliberately outrageous to get a rise out of you. And it worked. Sheesh, he’s into self-promotion; why do you care what he thinks anyway?

  • 2 Sticks of Butter May 2, 2008  

    I picked AB. I like his snarky, hetero-bitchy personality. I also like his writing. And I hear what he’s saying about vegetarians and vegans, you are all a bunch of self-righteous pricks.

  • zeegan June 3, 2008  

    Every macho tool enjoys anything that justifies his stupidity, like “there are too many deer and they’ll just starve to death anyway, so lets go hide behind trees and shoot them with our pussy sticks(read rifles)” … they also use words like “snarky”… Last Tango…I mean 2Sticks of Butter likes Asshat Bourdain’s “writing”… and eating corn the LONG WAY… when will having a penis finally be enough to classify one as a “real man”? And when will meat eaters finally discover that they SMELL BAD?

  • hilarina June 5, 2008  

    Although I love me a little attitude of Bourdain’s as of late he has certainly gone over the edge. I used to never miss a show. However the recipe is dull. Standard. BOOOOORRRRIIIINNNGGGG. It takes being innovative to be a chef….HT has my vote! It is a extra bonus to make somethng deee-lish AND be compassionate. Isn’t feeding someone supposed to be a compassionate thing anyway??

  • Coonass foodie July 10, 2008  

    Wow you people are absolutely nuts french onion with know meat stock or cheese you all must have it out for bourdain because I have no interest at all in that vegan abomination.

  • Coonass foodie July 10, 2008  

    I stopped hunting deer………..I hunt vegans and no Im not hiding behind a tree……. Im hiding in the back seat of your prius.

  • Kathryn August 27, 2008  

    Bourdain is a douchebag. Plain and simple. I can’t wait until he (like Wendy’s founder, Dave) dies of a clogged up ticker and respiratory failure. Smoke up, asshole.

  • fornetti September 1, 2008  

    I do not believe this

  • France September 11, 2008  

    Using bacon in cooking is like using swear words in writing or speaking. People who swear seem as if they lacking in imagination and creativity in their speech or writing. The words tend to be strong and have an unmistakable ‘flavour.’ Like bacon.

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  • alexandria February 8, 2014  

    They both look disgusting.

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