During his lifetime, Anthony Bourdain accomplished many things that we’ll always remember him by. He ventured to distant corners of the globe to try local delicacies, dive into local culture, and spotlight lesser-known voices. And he did it all with his characteristic blend of storytelling skill, irreverent honesty, and love of adventure.
Below, check out the top moments we’ll always remember when we think of Anthony Bourdain and his rule-breaking approach to life.
13. Spilling the industry’s secrets in The New Yorker
AV Club reports that one of the best Anthony Bourdain moments of all was the essay that put the chef on the map. Titled, “Don’t Eat Before Reading This,” the piece spilled some of the restaurant industry’s biggest secrets and was published in 1999.
As The New York Times reports, Bourdain then published his memoir, Kitchen Confidential, in 2000, introducing the world to his “thrillingly profane, aggressively truthful voice.” Over the years, the Times reports, “His early public persona — the macho, unrepentant, drug-loving chef — evolved into that of a clear-eyed crusader for global food justice.”
Next: He revealed more secrets during this TV appearance.
12. Revealing chefs’ secrets to Oprah
The Guardian reports that Anthony Bourdain made his reputation by revealing the secrets of the restaurant industry. “He told people to go to restaurants on Tuesdays to get the freshest food and that old or unwanted cuts of steak were saved for when people ordered their meat well done.”
So it’s no surprise that the publication considers the time when Bourdain revealed a chef’s secret about the amount of butter used in restaurant food to Oprah as one of his most memorable TV appearances.
Next: Anthony Bourdain talked about southern food with this famous actor.
11. Eating southern seafood with Bill Murray
Variety counts Anthony Bourdain’s tour of Charleston with Bill Murray and chef Sean Brock as one of the late celebrity chef’s best moments on Parts Unknown. On the episode, the group discussed Murray’s adjustment from life in New York to life in Charleston.
And they also talked about why it’s important to preserve the traditions of southern food, which Hugh Acheson has characterized as the regional American cuisine with the most historical depth.
Next: He tried this strange food in Scotland.
10. Trying deep-fried haggis in Scotland
Many Americans would struggle with the idea of eating haggis, which consists of “sinister sheep parts,” as Anthony Bourdain puts it in the video above. In this episode of Parts Unknown, the celebrity chef showed off his famous adventurous side by sampling deep-fried haggis in Scotland.
The fried delicacy was topped with a thick curry sauce, and Bourdain didn’t hesitate to dig in. But he did characterize the accompanying fries — topped with cheese and the same curry sauce –as “Guy Fieri in a kilt.” And that sure didn’t sound like a compliment.
Next: He had this memorable night in Thailand.
9. Trying ‘drunken noodles’ in Thailand
When Anthony Bourdain tried “drunken noodles” in Thailand, he made one of the best episodes of Parts Unknown ever. Variety notes that on this 2014 episode, Bourdain drank, indulged in street food, and even got a tattoo. (Talk about a memorable night!)
The chili-laden “drunken noodles” he tried were so spicy that he got what he characterized as “an ice cream headache, but it’s like a pepper headache.”
Next: He spotlighted diversity in Houston.
8. Exploring Houston’s ‘Little India’
AV Club counts Anthony Bourdain’s excursion to Houston’s “Little India” as one of his most memorable journeys on Parts Unknown, even though it didn’t take him that far from home. The episode, which aired during the tumultuous 2016 election season, seemed to make its own political statement by highlighting Houston’s diversity.
Bourdain traveled to Little India, attended a quinceañera, met with refugee students and Vietnamese fishermen and Congolese farmers, and discussed “slab” car culture with rapper Slim Thug.
Next: Anthony Bourdain had a memorable first trip to this southern chain restaurant.
7. Making his first trip to Waffle House
The Guardian also puts Anthony Bourdain’s first trip to Waffle House on the list of the celebrity chef’s most memorable moments. While Bourdain was famous for trying interesting — and dangerous — foods from around the world, he had never ventured into the southern chain.
He characterized Waffle House as a place “where everybody, regardless of race, creed, color, or degree of inebriation is welcome.” The publication notes that Bourdain was initially skeptical of the southern standby, but chef Sean Brock showed him the right way to approach the chain’s menu.
Next: He ate a meal with the president.
6. Teaching Barack Obama to slurp noodles
Whether you love Barack Obama or hate him, you have to concede that the meal Anthony Bourdain shared with him in Vietnam goes down in history. The two sat down for Bún chả in Hanoi, Vietnam.
As Vox reports, Obama tweeted about the meal shortly after Bourdain’s death, “Low plastic stool, cheap but delicious noodles, cold Hanoi beer. That’s how I’ll remember Tony. He taught us about food — but more importantly, about its ability to bring us together. To make us a little less afraid of the unknown. We’ll miss him.”
Next: He stopped by a strip club with another food industry heavyweight.
5. Stopping by a strip club with Alton Brown
Variety counts Anthony Bourdain’s visit to an Atlanta strip club as one of the celebrity chef’s most memorable moments. In 2013 on The Layover, Bourdain checked out Atlanta’s food scene and ended the night with a visit to the Clermont Lounge, which he said should be a “national landmark.”
The two chefs ended up taking shots out of plastic cups and meeting “Blondie,” the unofficial mayor of Atlanta.
Next: He ended up in Lebanon at the beginning of a war.
4. Going to Beirut at the start of the 2006 Lebanon War
Variety also adds Anthony Bourdain’s 2006 visit to Beirut to the list of defining moments for the late celebrity chef. He and his crew traveled to the Lebanese capital to film an episode of No Reservations, but ended up trapped in the city after the airport — and entire neighborhoods — were bombed.
“It gave us license to wander away from food a bit,” Bourdain later explained of what they ended up covering in the resulting episode. “It got all of us thinking about a lot of things,” he said, like “what’s important in life.”
Next: Anthony Bourdain supported the #MeToo movement.
3. Supporting the #MeToo movement
Anthony Bourdain can also be remembered as a supporter of the #MeToo movement, with The New York Times reporting that the chef “emerged as a leading male voice” in support of it. AV Club notes that Bourdain “took powerful men like Harvey Weinstein and Mario Batali to task while recognizing that his main role was to support the women on the front lines of the feminist struggle.”
In a Medium post, he wrote, “In these current circumstances, one must pick a side. I stand unhesitatingly and unwaveringly with the women.” And in an interview with Slate, he confessed that he felt troubled that the women in his life had never shared their experiences with him. “Why was I not the sort of person, or why was I not seen as the sort of person, that these women could feel comfortable confiding in? I see this as a personal failing.”
Next: He didn’t shy away from an opportunity to talk about the opioid crisis.
2. Talking about New England’s heroin epidemic
Anthony Bourdain addressed another serious topic on a 2015 episode of Parts Unknown, when he traveled to Massachusetts and talked about New England’s heroin epidemic.
Variety notes that Bourdain was a former heroin addict himself. And he even began his career in Massachusetts. (His first job in the industry was a gig as a dishwasher in Provincetown.) Talking to people on the ground about the impact of the heroin epidemic, Bourdain talked about his own history with the drug as he covered its spread through small-town America.
Next: He visited the Gaza Strip, and seemed saddened that people thought he deserved an award for it.
1. Visiting the Gaza Strip
Another of Anthony Bourdain’s most memorable meals was documented on Parts Unknown, in an episode where the celebrity chef visited Palestine’s Gaza Strip. As The Guardian reports, Bourdain won a Muslim Public Affairs Council award for the coverage.
He responded to the honor, “It’s a measure, I guess, of how twisted and shallow our depiction of a people is that these images come as a shock to so many. The world has visited many terrible things on the Palestinian people, none more shameful than robbing them of their basic humanity. People are not statistics. That is all we attempted to show. A small, pathetically small, step towards understanding.”
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