Known for his “bad boy” persona in the culinary world, chef Anthony Bourdain has long kept us entertained with his bold musings on food and culture, whether through his writing of books, magazine articles and blog posts or as the ever-adventurous eater and host of travel food shows on television. He has been the recipient of many prestigious awards including several Emmy Awards and a Peabody Award. Not surprisingly, his immense talent and influence as a chef is celebrated around the world, and his work has inspired countless people to follow their own culinary dreams.
The more unusual (or downright bizarre) a food is, the more it seems he is determined to try it, whether it happens to be sheep testicles in Morocco, raw cobra in Vietnam or ant eggs in Puebla, Mexico. His wanderlust and his appreciation of peculiar cuisine are traits which have served him well throughout his unique career. He is an advocate of expanding one’s horizons when eating, especially when traveling to exotic destinations where the cuisine may be strikingly different from what one might be used to. He is an avid fan of punk rock music and has enjoyed working in segments into his various television shows which feature musicians he admires. Although his hard-partying ways are now behind him, he has been forthright about his struggles with addiction in the past, something which has undoubtedly shaped the person that he is today.
Early Life and Career
Born in New York City and raised in New Jersey, he grew up with French influences on his father’s side of the family (his grandparents immigrated to the U.S. from France after World War I), and Jewish on his mother’s side. He has said that his passion for food was ignited when he sampled his first oyster aboard an oyster fisherman’s boat while in France during a family vacation when he was a child. After dropping out of college, he was inspired to pursue the culinary arts while working in the restaurant business. He attended and then graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1978, and began working in several New York City restaurants such as Sullivan’s, One Fifth Avenue, the Supper Club and Brasserie Les Halles (where he served as executive chef for several years).
A Unique Chef’s Perspective
He first found fame when he released his New York Times bestselling book, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, in 2000. A sequel to that called Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook was published in 2010. He has written two other New York Times best sellers: A Cook’s Tour and Nasty Bits as well as several other fiction and nonfiction titles. He has also produced articles and essays which have appeared in publications such as Gourmet, The New Yorker, Town & Country, The New York Times, Esquire and The Observer.
Work in Television
Although he has had immense success as a writer, he is perhaps even better known for his entertaining work in television. After Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly was published, he began his first gig as a food and travel show host of A Cook’s Tour on the Food Network. The success of that first show paved the way for several more hosting jobs including Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, The Layover and Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, shows which have allowed him to travel the world in search of incredible food. He has also been a guest judge on several episodes of the reality cooking competition Top Chef and narrated and executive produced several episodes of the PBS series The mind of a chef.