Anthony Bourdain is one of the most familiar faces in the food world these days, both on television on CNN’s Parts Unknown (and before that, Travel Channel’s No Reservations and The Layover), and in print and online as someone who’s never afraid to voice his opinion on any range of topics. But we bet that there’s a lot you didn’t know about this legendary chef and personality.
Anthony Michael Bourdain was born in New York City on June 25, 1956, the son of a classical music industry executive and a staff editor for The New York Times. After graduating from a prestigious New Jersey prep school, he attended Vassar College for two years before dropping out to pursue a career in cooking, which took him to restaurants including New York’s Supper Club and One Fifth Avenue before he landed a job as executive chef at Les Halles, where he stayed for many years, making a paltry $850 per week.
His big break came in 2000, when he released the groundbreaking book Kitchen Confidential, which blew the doors off of the cloistered world of restaurant kitchens and became a best-seller, making Bourdain a celebrity in the process. His 2001 follow-up, A Cook’s Tour, was filmed in conjunction with a travel-oriented show by the same name on Food Network. In 2005, the first episode of No Reservations aired, cementing his status as a top-tier TV personality. A Fox sitcom based on Kitchen Confidential, also called Kitchen Confidential and starring Bradley Cooper as a successful chef, also premiered in 2005 but was cancelled after five episodes (We’ll overlook that).
Today, Bourdain has settled into his role as an elder statesman of the restaurant industry, hosting Parts Unknown (which is a little more cinematic and hard-hitting than No Reservations) and not being afraid to voice his opinion on everything from his love of Waffle House to why a Donald Trump Presidency could spell doom for restaurants. He’s also hard at work on a sprawling Asian-inspired food market on Manhattan’s West Side, which is slated to open in 2017. If there’s one thing to know about Anthony Bourdain, it’s that you never can know what he’s going to do next. Read on for 18 facts about this legendary “bad boy” chef.