18 Foods and Drinks Anthony Bourdain Has Insulted
It’s no secret Anthony Bourdain has quite the history of insulting other chefs and their TV shows. Bourdain might be responsible for inspiring you to try new foods, including some foods that look good but taste terrible. But the sharp-tongued chef and Parts Unknown host has his limits. He might be up to try anything, but he won’t hold his punches if he really hates something. So perhaps unsurprisingly, he’s insulted plenty of foods and drinks over the years.
In an interview with Thrillist, Bourdain said, “I’m surprisingly accepting of these little trends … as part of a larger, positive process.” He added, “Every chef, for instance, does silly food at some point in their career or food that they maybe shouldn’t be doing. But I mean, that’s part of the learning process.” Despite that attitude, there are still plenty of food trends Bourdain just can’t wrap his head around.
Check out some of the foods and beverages Bourdain has insulted over the years.
1. Hollandaise sauce
Think even Bourdain couldn’t insult an entire category of meals? Think again. In an interview with Atlanta’s Creative Loafing, Bourdain revealed, “I don’t really eat breakfast. I’m a cup of coffee in the morning guy.” The morning of the interview, for instance, he “just had coffee and one of those horrible little health bars.”
And Condé Nast Traveler reports in his book Kitchen Confidential, Bourdain wrote brunch is “a dumping ground for the odd bits left over from Friday and Saturday nights.” He continues, “How about hollandaise sauce? Not for me. Bacteria love hollandaise. And nobody I know has ever made hollandaise to order. And how long has that Canadian bacon been festering in the walk-in? Remember, brunch is only served once a week — on the weekends. Cooks hate brunch.”
2. Juice cleanses
Eater reports when Bourdain did a Reddit “Ask Me Anything,” he was quick to identify some food trends he wishes would die already. Juices and juice cleanses were one. He wrote on Reddit, “I don’t understand the juice cleanse. I mean, if you’ve ever had a colonoscopy, the doctor gives you something that will cleanse you right quick, so I don’t really understand juice cleanses.”
Bourdain also mentioned the topic in an interview with Thrillist. He reiterated that he can’t wrap his head around “this sort of herd mentality around juice-cleansing.” Nonetheless, he admitted he finds the “proliferation of juice joints” interesting. “These people are selling little bottles of coconut water for like, two and a half bucks. … At least people are thinking about what they’re putting in their mouths. So, I mean, I guess that’s positive.”
3. Extra-hot fried chicken
At the opposite end of the food spectrum from juice cleanses, extra-hot fried chicken was also revealed during Bourdain’s AMA as a food that he just doesn’t understand. Asked about his scariest Parts Unknown experiences, he mentioned eating “Nashville Hot Chicken.” For the record, Nashville’s particular brand of fried chicken is typically seasoned liberally with cayenne pepper.
Bourdain explained of his encounter with the dish, “That was truly, truly terrifying. And if you’re considering going to Nashville, by the way, please notice that Nashvillians themselves don’t eat the extra-hot fried chicken. They know better.” The chef concluded, “Unless you’ve got three or four days to spend in a bathroom, I really advise against that.”
4. Pumpkin spice everything
With the pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin beer, and pumpkin spice pastries, pumpkin seems to show up everywhere each fall. But Bourdain is having none of it. In Bourdain’s AMA, he identified pumpkin spice anything and everything as a trend he’d like to die. He wrote, “I would like to see the pumpkin spice craze drowned in its own blood. Quickly.”
And it seems Bourdain wasn’t even aware of the impressive proportions of the annual pumpkin spice conspiracy. USA Today reports Bourdain has said of the pumpkin trend, “What? It slipped by me. How did this happen? I’m deathly against it.”
5. Craft beer
Speaking to Adweek, Bourdain admitted of his beer consumption on Parts Unknown, “I don’t drink the best beer in the world on the show. It’s a problem that comes up a lot actually.” He explained, “The angriest mail I get is from beer nerds — people who are craft beer enthusiasts and see me drinking a cold, available beer from a mass production. And they get really cranky with me, and they assume that I’m plugging it or something. In fact, I just like cold beer, and my standards rise and fall depending on access to cold beer.”
The chef told Thrillist he drinks “whatever convenient cold beer is available in a particular place.” And he added typically, “I haven’t made the effort to walk down the street 10 blocks to the microbrewery where they’re making some Mumford and Sons IPA.” Bourdain said he’ll enjoy a good craft beer, but he won’t analyze it.
6. Brioche buns
Clearly, Bourdain has a lot of opinions when it comes to how you should serve a burger. And as he mentioned to the Los Angeles Times, he doesn’t think the brioche bun is the right choice for a burger. Thrillist reports the chef’s disdain for the brioche bun merited an entire entry on his Crimes Against Food list.
Bourdain wrote, “The hamburger bun is designed to absorb grease, not add greasiness to the experience. A proper hamburger bun should retain its structural integrity, playing its role as delivery vehicle for the meat patty until the last bite. The brioche bun, woefully unsuitable for this role, crumbles.” Ultimately, Bourdain concluded, “God is against the brioche bun.”
7. Ranch dressing
First We Feast asked Bourdain for his opinion on Ben Adler’s proclamation in The Washington Post that “ranch dressing is what’s wrong with America.” Bourdain demurred, answering at first, “I mean, I feel it. But sometimes you just want to go cheap. There’s a place for it, but I don’t want it on my chicken wings.”
But Bourdain continued, “You know, if you ranch something, does it make it better? Probably not. It’s not a flavor I particularly understand. But I can well imagine circumstances where I might think like, ‘This ranch is, like, totally awesome.’ Probably all alone with no one watching.”
8. Chicken Caesar
Another food that appears on Bourdain’s Crimes Against Food list? Chicken Caesar, the inexplicably pretentious name applied to a chicken breast served over a Caesar salad. The chef writes simply, “Why? They’re going to cook the chicken to sh*t anyway.” And Bon Appétit reports in his cookbook, Appetites, Bourdain warns readers, “God does not want you to put chicken on your Caesar.” And Bourdain isn’t alone in his disdain for the dish.
Food journalist Michael Ruhlman writes, “The Chicken Caesar is an emblem of the mediocrity of American cuisine.” Ruhlman adds, in a rant of which Bourdain might approve, that the dish “represents an embrace of the misinformed and unimaginative American diner. … I’ll have a salad, the reasoning goes, because it’s healthy (let’s disregard what it’s slathered with), and I’m hungry, so let’s pile on some chicken breast, the skim milk of the protein world.”
9. Steak well-done
When it came to light that President Donald Trump orders his steak well-done with ketchup, the entire food world collectively shuddered. And Bourdain wasn’t immune. The chef told Town and Country, “It hurts me. I think that’s a window into his soul. Anyone who’s that indifferent to food is problematic for me.”
He continued, “It’s like meeting someone at a party who says, ‘I never really liked music.’ What do you do with that? As a chef, it always hurt me if I was serving a nicely aged côte de boeuf, and I heard they dumped ketchup all over it — that hurt me too. Something died inside me.”
10. Home fries
Another breakfast food Bourdain despises? Home fries. The chef confessed to Thrillist his disdain for breakfast is likely “rooted in the fact that, for most of the low points of my professional career, I was a breakfast or a brunch cook. So it was the default setting when everything else went wrong. So it’s the smell of failure.”
“And you make them in huge amounts, and you re-heat them,” he added. “Most of the home fries I have in diners are not good, they’re not cooked all the way through, they’re not crisp. It’s possible to make a good home fry, I’m sure somebody does.”
Bourdain prefers hash browns to home fries. But he’s skeptical of their necessity on the breakfast table. “I’m hardly an advocate for healthy living, but it seems to me a big pile of buttered toast is good, bacon is good, sausage is good, eggs is good. Do we really need the potatoes also? I’m not convinced that we do.”
11. Frito pie
Bourdain famously insulted the Frito pie from the Five & Dime General Store in New Mexico on an episode of Parts Unknown. He explained the dish as “canned Hormel chili and day-glow orange cheeselike substance dropped … right into a bag of Fritos.” He added, “In just six minutes, I’ve achieved a depth of self-loathing that it usually takes a night of drinking to achieve.”
Later, Bourdain was asked by Adweek about the episode (and the subsequent backlash from offended New Mexicans). He admitted to the magazine, “You know, late at night, stoned, I will very much enjoy some Frito pie, but I don’t think a human alive could honestly look at a camera and not confess that if you’ve ever cleaned up after a dog … that sort of wet, warm heft in hand. I knew that dead weight well.”
12. Kobe sliders
Adweek asked Bourdain which food trends he would “call bullsh*t on.” The chef answered, “Have we mentioned Kobe? You know, Kobe meatballs, Kobe sliders, Kobe burgers? That’s always bullsh*t.” And that’s not the only time the chef has quipped about what Forbes characterizes as “the great Kobe beef lie.” (Feeling lost? Many restaurants claim to offer Japanese Kobe beef. But if they did have the coveted beef, they wouldn’t make it into burgers.)
Eater reports on a visit to The Tonight Show, Bourdain said, “There is no food crime worse — in fact the very epicenter of douchedom is the Kobe slider. If you see Kobe slider on a menu at a restaurant that you’ve walked into, turn on your heels and leave. No good will come of this.”
13. House-made ketchup
Another condiment for which Bourdain expressed his disdain while talking to First We Feast? The kind of house-made ketchup you find at an increasing number of restaurants across the United States. Bourdain started by explaining, “A good burger is unimprovable by man or God.” When ordering a burger, Bourdain eschews aioli dressing, brioche buns, plus onion and pumpkin relishes. But most of all, he steers clear of ketchup that a restaurant makes itself.
“God help us. You know, you have to find a house-made ketchup that’s better than the platonic idea of ketchup. Which is the same cheap ass ketchup you always had.” Also of interest? Parade learned Bourdain hates ketchup on a hot dog. “I love hot dogs. I like ketchup, but together they’re a problem!”
14. Gluten-free foods
Choosing a gluten-free diet without a medical reason to do so is a dieting method few doctors would recommend. In fact, a recent study found restricting gluten can actually have harmful health effects on people who don’t have celiac disease. Bourdain seems to have a similar outlook on gluten-free foods and diets: Avoid them.
The Parts Unknown host told Adweek, “Look, before you start boring me to death at a party about how you got gluten-free, you know, if you think you have a disease as serious as celiac disease, shouldn’t you see a f*cking doctor before you make this big move?” Finally, he added, “I don’t think half of these people even understand what they’re talking about.”
15. Unicorn Frappuccino
If you thought the Unicorn Frappuccino was one of Starbucks’ most overrated drinks, you aren’t alone. Town and Country asked the Parts Unknown host for his thoughts on the Frappuccino. His response was pretty priceless.
“Wow, that’s like four things I hate all in one sentence: Starbucks, unicorns, and the colors pink and purple,” Bourdain quipped. “Also a Frappuccino! It’s the perfect nexus of awfulness. Just add pumpkin spice to that mix, and you can nuke the whole county.”
16. Truffle oil
Another deceptive ingredient Bourdain slammed during his visit to The Tonight Show? Truffle oil. The chef posited that truffle oil is a horrible ingredient that’s “about as edible as Astroglide and made from the same stuff.” That sounds like an exaggeration. (And Bourdain has admitted he’s prone to hyperbole.) But the chef might not be as far from the mark as you’d think.
As Serious Eats explains, truffle oil isn’t actually made from truffles. Instead, the site notes, “It’s made from an organic compound called 2,4-Dithiapentane — derived either naturally or from a petroleum base — mixed together with olive oil. Sure, that happens to be the most prevalent chemical odorant in real truffles. But using truffle oil is the culinary equivalent of dousing a custard with, say, artificial vanilla flavoring.”
17. Bacon on everything
Remember when bacon started appearing on everything, from burgers to ice cream? Bourdain wishes it would stop. He told the LA Times, “I love bacon, but I don’t think we need it on everything. I think there’s a tendency to over-jack and over-umami food these days.”
Bourdain also explained that in determining a set of “burger rules” for the cookbook, he determined what people really want is “a structurally sound burger held together by commercially available cheese,” most likely in a potato bun. “I feel strongly that adding a brioche bun or some thick-cut bacon is not necessarily making that experience better,” Bourdain added.
18. Club sandwiches
The Los Angeles Times notes in Bourdain’s cookbook, Appetites, the chef compares the club sandwich to Al Qaeda. Asked to elaborate, Bourdain explained, “I’m really irritated by that useless middle slice of bread on the club sandwich. It’s been there forever; it’s not a trend. It’s lasted for decades and why, when we can so easily dispense with it?”
As Thrillist reports, Bourdain has ranted against the club sandwich on another occasion, as well. On his Crimes Against Food list, the chef called out that third slice of bread in the middle of the club sandwich. He wrote, “You know who invented the middle slice? Enemies of freedom. Their mission? Sap our will to live by ruining our sandwich experiences through ‘tectonic slide.'”