Tickets into the (Bill) Buford/(Mario) Batali panel moderated by (Anthony) Bourdain at the New York Public Library on 42nd were scarce, and the room reflected it as it was packed to the walls last night. Luckily it seemed like many of the walk-ins waiting ouside were able to slide into the room just before introductions.

The three participants really seemed to enjoy each other’s company, and near the end of the event one mentioned that they would be dining at Cesare Casella’s restaurant later that evening together.

Bourdain was an excellent facilitator for the jovial discourse and the patois occasionally skewed toward the gritty jargon one might exprect to find in a kitchen or sports locker room. The crowd loved it - authentic and real, just like the foods these guys seek as a matter of their life fabric. Topics included discussions on Mario, his mini-empire, managing mini-empires with multiple units like his, Buford’s new book, Heat, the tie-in to the Mario style of cooking, influence of chefs on what people eat today in America, Marco Pierre White, manic-ness of chefs like him and Gordon Ramsey, and finally ending with a weak Q&A.

Bourdain’s invective reared its head when he called out Charlie Trotter as a traitor to the cause for supporting the Chicago Foie Ban. His insightfulness was on point with his analysis that American’s eating raw fish as sushi for the first time was a tipping point allowing great Chefs to force their menu item selection agenda (spleen, brains, etc.) onto diners and change the American dining palate forever.

Bill Buford and Mario Batali told great stories and answered questions honestly about initially becoming friendly, Buford’s transition to employee at Babbo, his technical competence there, and intentionally similar on the ground research they have both conducted in Italy. A great room and an entertaining intro speech quoting Buford on dessert from a June 26th New Yorker column rounded out the scene.