The episode airs Monday night (Feb. 4) at 9. Bourdain hit town in September for the shoot, which was a quest to test the city's culinary fitness more than two years after the levee failures.

Back then, sipping an Abita Amber in the lobby of the W Hotel on Poydras, Bourdain paused briefly from his shooting schedule to report that his preliminary judgment is that New Orleans kitchens appear alive and well.

"The (culinary) world view ... seems the same," said Bourdain, who hadn't visited New Orleans for either business or pleasure since the August 2005 storm. "That's what I was terrified of (losing), particularly among cooks.

"The restaurant culture -- the subculture of cooks and chefs and restaurant workers -- was something that struck me really favorably the first time I came, and that's specifically what we're looking at this time around.

"Last night, we were at a bar and there must have been a couple-hundred line cooks in there. It was great. I felt right at home."

Anger was what he felt as he watched the earliest coverage of levee-failure flooding.

"Very angry," he said. "Rage and disbelief. I just couldn't believe that this could be allowed to happen and go on and on."

At the time of the September interview, weeks before he had recorded his voice-overs and overseen the final edit of his crew's footage, Bourdain said he doubted he would let much of that anger infuse the episode.

"I'm not going to go all Anderson Cooper on my show," he said. "It's a travel show. I think I try to avoid being explicitly political, though I think a lot of things speak for themselves.

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