Last night, it felt like all of Philly was watching Anthony Bourdain's Philly episode of the Travel Channel's "The Layover." In the final segment, Bourdain, along with fancy chefs Marc Vetri and Michael Solomonov, headed to the Pen & Pencil, a club for journalists and service industry pros. Bourdain did one of the most disgusting things this reporter has ever witnessed on television: took a shot of the famed hot dog water, the liquid that stews the free hot dogs available at the P&P.
But then Bourdain got upstaged by Brendan Bownes, a 32-year-old Bucks County resident who grew up in Rhawnhurst. Bourdain rebuffed an offer of a drink known as the Irish Bus Bomb ("Why would any sensible human being want to drink that?" Bourdain asks), but Bownes took one for the team and downed the pitcher-sized beverage. Afterward, Bownes looks into the camera and tells the the TV-watching public he's ready for more beer. It was a perfect Philly moment.
Bownes, a fan of Bourdain's, liked the episode and said his phone blew up after the show aired for at least an hour. We talked to Bownes this morning about his star-making turn.
Daily News: What brought you to the Pen & Pencil that night?
I gotta be honest with you. I’d probably been in the Pen & Pencil a handful of times in my life. I was out with a large group of my friends. We do this bar crawl, we do 18 bars. We do nine east of Broad and nine west of Broad. The only problem is once you cross after nine bars, things start getting a little sketchy, people start splitting up and that winds up being the end of the night. Rarely does anyone make it to the last bar. That night there were just a few of us who made it with me. We had no idea Bourdain was going to be there. I’m a fan of his, all that stuff, like "No Reservations." I walked in. Normally it’s a private club, you got to be a member. We were able to get in and just scattered about the place and they asked us to stay back, there were all these cameras set up. What could possibly be filmed at the Pen & Pencil? That was probably my 15th drink because there's a one drink minimum at ever bar. So, I’m already 15 in at that point. Unfortunately. Then Bourdain walks in.
There was no way I wasn’t going to try and make my way on to that show at that point. Once in a lifetime opportunity. At the least, I’d try to get a handshake. Once they poured the [Irish Bus Bomb], it didn’t show a whole lot of it, from what I recall, Anthony Bourdain wanted no parts of that drink.
DN: Explain what an Irish Bus Bomb is for those out there who don't know.
Most people are familiar with the Car Bomb, which is a pint of Guinness with a small shot glass with Jameson and Baileys droppeden. This is that version on steroids. If I remember correctly, it was two cans of Guinness they used. Instead of a shot glass, they used a rocks glass and that’s obviously a bit bigger. Same concept, drop it in and chug it. I could only do so much 15 drinks in. [Bourdain] commended me for that part, at the end when I’m just shaking my head and screaming and saying I’m ready for more beer. But that’s the last thing I remember for the rest of my night. I woke up the next day with a picture of Anthony Bourdain on my phone. I said 'What a good night.' It was win for me because I was with originally, like, 30 guys. Technically I feel like I won that days events. I also feel like I never need to do that again because I don’t know how I can top that moment of hanging out with Bourdain.
DN: Right before you drank the Bus Bomb, Bourdain takes a shot of hot dog water. What do you think is grosser?
And it was hot water! It was in the crock pot. It’s probably been sitting there for three days. I’ll give the nod to Bourdain for taking the shot because if I had taken the hot dog water 15 drinks would have been coming right up. I was able to put that down, I don’t know if my night continued down but I did survive. The hot dog water, disgusting.