18 Things You Didn't Know About Anthony Bourdain

18 Things You Didn’t Know About Anthony Bourdain

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. 

An Oyster Sparked His Love of Food

Bourdain has said that he first fell in love with food when he visited France at age 10 and tried a fresh oyster on a fishing boat.

He Originally Wanted to Be a Comic Book Artist

During his childhood, Bourdain wanted to be a comic book artist before his attention shifted to food. He co-wrote a graphic novel called Get Jiro! in 2011 and its follow-up, a prequel, earlier this year. 

He Sold His Record Collection for Drug Money

Bourdain's struggles with drugs and alcohol have been well-documented; in Kitchen Confidential he revealed that he once regularly used drugs including LSD, cocaine, and heroin. He also described how he once resorted to selling his record collection in order to purchase drugs. 

‘Kitchen Confidential’ Started as a New Yorker Article

Before Kitchen Confidential was a book, it was a short article published by The New Yorker called "Don't Eat Before Reading This" in 1999. It's still a great read!

He’s a Talented Illustrator

While he hasn't provided illustrations for any of his graphic novels, Bourdain has claimed that he's a good artist, a skill that probably came in handy in his younger days of wanting to be a comic book artist.

Bourdain and His Crew Were Stranded in Beirut During a Major Conflict

Bourdain and his crew were in Beirut filming an episode of No Reservations in 2006 when the Israel-Lebanon conflict broke out. The episode turned into a first-hand account of him and the crew trying to escape the conflict, and was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2007. 

He Had a Major Falling Out with Food Network

While in Spain on a book tour, Bourdain met renowned elBulli chef Ferran Adria, who invited him to film an episode of A Cook's Tour in his kitchen, granting him unprecedented access to witness his creative process. Food Network demurred, preferring instead that Bourdain stick to domestic topics. Bourdain and his production team made the episode anyway, and sold it to Travel Channel; it became the pilot episode of No Reservations

He Has His Own Book Line

Ecco Press, an imprint of HarperCollins, gave Bourdain his own line of books in 2011. Books that he's published so far include titles from notable culinary figures including Kogi's Roy Choi, barbecue aficionado Daniel Vaughn, and newspaper columnist Marilyn Hagerty. 

He No Longer Smokes or Drinks Much

Bourdain quit smoking when his daughter was born in 2007, and he told the Boston Herald that he doesn't actually drink that much anymore. 

Playing Certain Music in His Kitchen was Grounds for Firing

There were a few music acts that nobody dared play in Bourdain's kitchen because they knew that it was a fireable offense. Those included Billy Joel...

Playing Certain Music in His Kitchen was Grounds for Firing

Elton John...

Playing Certain Music in His Kitchen was Grounds for Firing

...And The Grateful Dead.

He Eventually Smoothed Things Over with Billy Joel

In Hamptons Magazine, Bourdain said that he and Joel "have this sort of strange and tortured relationship. We're actually pretty friendly, we've had dinner a couple of times, and Billy knows full well I hate his music."

He Considers Vegetarianism a First World Luxury

Bourdain has been outspoken about his belief that vegetarian lifestyles are rude to those who live in developing countries and may not have much in the way of choice about what they eat. He considers it a "first world luxury," but does acknowledge that Americans eat too much meat. 

Is He a Cat Person or a Dog Person?

Take a guess...

Is He a Cat Person or a Dog Person?

He also told the Boston Herald that he's "more of a cat person that a dog person."

He’s Made a Wide Variety of TV Guest Appearances

TV shows in which he's made guest appearances include Yo Gabba Gabba...

He’s Made a Wide Variety of TV Guest Appearances

The Simpsons...

He’s Made a Wide Variety of TV Guest Appearances

...and Miami Ink.

Both He and His Wife Are Big Fans of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu

They both practice it almost daily. When Bourdain is on the road he always tracks down a local instructor. His wife, Ottavia, has competed in the International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation Open. 

Only Three Things Scare Him


Only Three Things Scare Him


Only Three Things Scare Him

...and Nurses' Shoes.

He Had a Terrible Time Shooting ‘The Layover’

Because nearly all the episodes in a season were filmed over two days and were shot back to back over the course of a month, filming the show completely burned him out. 

He Still Loves Fast Food and TV Dinners

While he shuns chicken nuggets, his tastes aren't exactly highbrow: He loves street food, has no problems with eating a TV dinner, and has professed his love for KFC, Popeye's, and macaroni and cheese.