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Marilyn Hagerty in talks with Anthony Bourdain for book deal

It looks like Marilyn Hagerty, the 85-year-old restaurant-reviewer whose Olive Garden prose quite unexpectedly made her an Internet sensation earlier this month, has a few more surprises on her plate. The Grand Forks Herald has reported that Hagerty is discussing a book deal with Harper Collins for collaboration with none other than le grand fromage himself, Anthony Bourdain. “The book deal is m
North Dakota newspaper columnist Marilyn Hagerty came to fame with her earnest review of Olive Garden -- so much so that she may be collaborating on a book with outspoken chef Anthony Bourdain.
North Dakota newspaper columnist Marilyn Hagerty came to fame with her earnest review of Olive Garden -- so much so that she may be collaborating on a book with outspoken chef Anthony Bourdain.AP / Today

It looks like Marilyn Hagerty, the 85-year-old restaurant-reviewer whose Olive Garden prose quite unexpectedly made her an Internet sensation earlier this month, has a few more surprises on her plate. The Grand Forks Herald has reported that Hagerty is discussing a book deal with Harper Collins for collaboration with none other than le grand fromage himself, Anthony Bourdain.

“The book deal is moving along,” Hagerty confirmed to TODAY.com. via e-mail. "I do not know what it will be. That is up to Anthony Bourdain … what will be will be.” In the meantime, she says she has been familiarizing herself with his books (and was already familiar with “No Reservations”). Bourdain and HarperCollins did not respond to requests for comment.

Hagerty’s review gave the rest of the country a glimpse into middle America when she described a long-awaited Olive Garden as “the largest and most beautiful restaurant now operating in Grand Forks,” a town with a population of 52,838 in 2010. After Hagerty's review for North Dakota’s Grand Forks Heraldwent viral, it caught the attention of foodies, gawkers, and even some celebrities, most notably, Anthony Bourdain, who humbly tweeted, “Very much enjoying watching Internet sensation Marilyn Hagerty triumph over the snarkologists (myself included).”

As news of the book deal came out, Bourdain recently tweeted, “Marilyn Hagerty's years of reviews to be a history of dining in the America too few of us from the coasts have seen. We need to see.”

Perhaps, in this day and age of frenzied food bloggers and big-name celebrity chefs, her humorously straight-forward, politely stated review of the Italian-American chain restaurant could be construed as… refreshing?

Hagerty, who has been writing five reviews a week for the Herald for thirty-something years now, told TODAY, “Friends used to call me ‘the appetite’ because I was always ready to eat.” She says her least favorite foods are “few and far between,” and lists filet mignon, Italian food, and oatmeal with raisins and cinnamon as some of her favorites.

Hagerty recently returned from a trip to New York, where she was on several shows, includingTODAYand “Anderson,” where Anderson Cooper announced Celebrity Cruises would be sending her on a trip to Italy. She also dined at Le Bernardin (Bourdain secured her reservation), Crown, Dovetail and, naturally, the Times Square Olive Garden before returning to North Dakota to report back.

Of course, with all this recent hullabaloo, Hagerty has her fair share of fans and haters alike. In a recent interview with the Village Voice’s Fork in the Road, the polite reviewer turned sassy octogenarian stated: “I don't have time to sit here and twit over whether some self-styled food expert likes, or does not like, my column...If anyone's got time to sit out there and nitpick, I kind of feel sorry for them. Get a life.”

That kind of surly confidence might just be what wins Hagerty a book deal with Bourdain, a feat that will leave her critics with no choice but to eat their words.

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