Anthony Bourdain

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Anthony Bourdain

Bourdain in June 2006
Born June 25, 1956 (1956-06-25) (age 52)
New York City, New York
Cooking style French
Education Vassar College
Culinary Institute of America

Anthony Michael "Tony" Bourdain (born June 25, 1956) is an American author and chef. He is well known for his 2000 book, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, and is the host of Travel Channel's culinary and cultural adventure program Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations.

A 1978 graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and a 28-year veteran of professional kitchens,[1] Bourdain is currently a "Chef-at-Large" whose home base is Brasserie Les Halles,[2] where he was executive chef for many years.


[edit] Biography

Bourdain was born in New York City but grew up in Leonia, New Jersey. Bourdain has French ancestry on his father's side; his paternal grandfather immigrated to New York from France following World War I.[3] Bourdain attended Vassar College, and graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1978. Currently, Bourdain is honorary Chef-at-Large of Brasserie Les Halles, where he held the title of executive chef for nearly a decade. When he is not traveling, Bourdain lives in Manhattan.

Bourdain married his highschool girlfriend, Nancy Putkoski, in the 1980s, and they remained together for two decades before divorcing; Bourdain has cited the irrevocable changes that come from traveling widely as the cause of the split.[4] He currently lives with his second wife, Ottavia Busia. Together, they have one daughter, Ariane, born on April 9, 2007; the couple wed on April 20, 2007.[5]

[edit] Culinary training and career

In Kitchen Confidential, Bourdain describes how his love of food was kindled in France—when he tried his first oyster on an oyster fisherman's boat as a youth while on a family vacation. Later, while attending Vassar College, he worked in the seafood restaurants of Provincetown, Massachusetts, which sparked his decision to pursue cooking as a career. Bourdain graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1978, and went on to run various restaurant kitchens in New York City—including the Supper Club, One Fifth Avenue, and Sullivan's—culminating in the position of executive chef at Brasserie Les Halles beginning in 1998. Brasserie Les Halles is based in Manhattan, with additional locations in Miami and, at the time of Bourdain's tenure, Washington, D.C. and Tokyo, Japan.

[edit] Media career

[edit] Writing

Bourdain gained immediate popularity from his 2000 New York Times bestselling book Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly. The book is an "unsparingly acerbic" and "pull-no-punches" exposé of the hidden and darker side of the culinary world, and is a partial memoir of Bourdain's personal and professional life. [6]

Bourdain subsequently wrote two more New York Times bestselling nonfiction books: A Cook's Tour (2001), an exotic account of his food and travel exploits across the world, written in conjunction with his first television series; and The Nasty Bits (2006), another collection of exotic, provocative, and humorous anecdotes and essays mainly centered on food. Bourdain's additional books include Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook; the culinary mysteries Bone in the Throat and Gone Bamboo; a hypothetical historical investigation, Typhoid Mary: An Urban Historical; and No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach.

Bourdain's articles and essays have appeared many places, including in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Observer, Gourmet, Maxim, Esquire (UK), Scotland on Sunday, The Face, Food Arts, Limb by Limb, BlackBook, The Independent, Best Life, the Financial Times, and Town & Country. On the Internet, Bourdain's blog for Season 3 of Top Chef [7] was nominated for a Webby Award for best Blog – Cultural/Personal in 2008.[8]

[edit] Television

Kitchen Confidential, Bourdain's racy memoir, garnered so much acclaim that he was offered his own food and world-travel show, A Cook's Tour, by the Food Network, premiering on January 8, 2002. In July 2005, he premiered a new, somewhat similar television series, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, on the Travel Channel. A further result of his well-known memoir was the 2005 Fox sitcom, Kitchen Confidential, named after the book, in which the character "Jack Bourdain" is based loosely on the biography and persona of Anthony Bourdain.

In July 2006, Bourdain was in Beirut filming an episode of No Reservations when the Israel-Lebanon conflict broke out. Bourdain and his crew were evacuated with other American citizens on the morning of July 20 by the United States Marines.[9] Despite having filmed only one restaurant before fighting began, Bourdain's producers compiled the Beirut footage into a No Reservations episode which aired on August 21, 2006. Uncharacteristically, the episode included footage of both Bourdain and his production staff, and included not only their initial attempts to film the episode, but also their firsthand encounters with Hezbollah supporters, their days of waiting for news with other expatriates in a Beirut hotel, and their eventual escape aided by a "cleaner" (unseen in the footage) whom Bourdain dubbed "Mr. Wolf." The episode was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2007.

Bourdain has appeared five times as guest judge on Bravo's Top Chef reality cooking competition program: first in the November 2006 "Thanksgiving" episode of Season 2; and then again in June 2007 in the first episode of Season 3, judging the "exotic surf and turf" competition featuring ingredients including abalone, alligator, black chicken, geoduck and eel. His third appearance was also in Season 3, as an expert on air travel, judging the competitors' airplane meals. Bourdain also wrote weekly blog commentaries for many of the Season 3 episodes, filling in as a guest blogger while Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio was busy opening a new restaurant. Bourdain next appeared as a guest judge for the opening episode of Season 4, in which pairs of chefs competed head-to-head in the preparation of various classic dishes; and again in the Season 4 Restaurant Wars episode, temporarily taking the place of head judge Tom Colicchio, who was at a charity event.

Bourdain made a guest appearance on the August 6, 2007 New York City episode of Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern; Zimmern appeared as a guest on the New York City episode of Bourdain's No Reservations airing the same day. Bourdain has also appeared in an episode of TLC's reality show Miami Ink which originally aired August 28, 2006. Artist Chris Garver tattooed a skull on Bourdain's right shoulder, who noted it was his fourth tattoo. Among other reasons, he wished to balance the ouroboros tattoo he had done on his opposite shoulder in Malaysia while filming Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations.

Bourdain hosted "At the Table with Anthony Bourdain" on the Travel Channel on October 20, 2008.

Bourdain also has a brief cameo appearance in the 2008 movie Far Cry.[10]

[edit] Public persona

Bourdain in Chicago

Known for consuming exotic and daring ethnic dishes, Bourdain is famous for eating sheep testicles in Morocco, ant eggs in Puebla, Mexico, a raw seal eyeball as part of a traditional Inuit seal hunt, and a whole cobra—beating heart, blood, bile, and meat—in Vietnam. According to Bourdain, the most disgusting thing he has ever eaten is a Chicken McNugget,[11] though he has also declared that the unwashed warthog rectum he ate in Namibia[12] and the fermented shark he ate in Iceland[13] are among 'the worst meals of his life.'

Bourdain has been known for being an unrepentant drinker and smoker. In a nod to Bourdain's (at the time) two-pack-a-day cigarette habit, renowned chef Thomas Keller once served him a 20-course tasting menu which included a mid-meal "coffee and cigarette": a coffee custard infused with tobacco, together with a foie gras mousse.[14] However, Bourdain has stopped cigarette smoking as of the summer of 2007, because of the birth of his daughter.[15]

Because of Bourdain's liberal use of light profanity and sexual references in his television show No Reservations, the network has prepended viewer discretion advisories to each segment of each episode. In early seasons, these were a simple screen of white text on a black background, but in more recent seasons, they now include animation that is related in some way to the episode.

Adding to his untamed image, Bourdain is a former user of cocaine, heroin, and LSD. In Kitchen Confidential he writes of his experience in a trendy SoHo restaurant in 1981: "We were high all the time, sneaking off to the walk-in [refrigerator] at every opportunity to 'conceptualize.' Hardly a decision was made without drugs. Pot, quaaludes, cocaine, LSD, psilocybin mushrooms soaked in honey and used to sweeten tea, Seconal, Tuinal, speed, codeine and, increasingly, heroin, which we'd send a Spanish-speaking busboy over to Alphabet City to get."[16] In the same book, Bourdain writes honestly about his former addiction, including how he sank to a point where he was selling his record collection on the street to get money for drugs.

Bourdain is also noted for his not-so-subtle put-downs of celebrity chefs such as Emeril Lagasse (though he has since warmed up to Lagasse, who has appeared with Bourdain in an episode of No Reservations) and Bobby Flay, and Food Network personalities such as Sandra Lee and Rachael Ray (who is the butt of many jokes on No Reservations). Bourdain fully expressed his feelings about certain Food Network personalities in a popular blog entry from February 2007,[3] and appears to be irritated by both the overt commercialism of the celebrity cooking industry and its lack of culinary authenticity. Bourdain has recognized the irony of his transformation into a celebrity chef and has, to some extent, begun to qualify his insults. He has been consistently outspoken in his praise for chefs he admires, particularly Thomas Keller, Masa Takayama, Gordon Ramsay, Eric Ripert, Ferran Adrià, Fergus Henderson, Marco Pierre White, and Mario Batali.[17]

Bourdain's taste in music is also a matter of public record. His book, The Nasty Bits, is dedicated to "Joey, Johnny, and Dee Dee" of the Ramones. Bourdain has declared fond appreciation for their music, as well as other early punk bands such as Dead Boys, Television, and The Voidoids. Additionally, Bourdain writes in Kitchen Confidential that the playing of music by Billy Joel in his kitchen was grounds for immediate firing (ironically, Joel is a fan of his). In the 2006 No Reservations episode in Sweden, Bourdain proclaimed that his all-time favorite album (his "desert island disc") is the groundbreaking punk record Fun House by The Stooges; he also made it clear that he despises the Swedish pop group ABBA. And on his 2007 No Reservations Holiday Special episode, the rock band Queens of the Stone Age were the featured dinner guests, adding food-inspired holiday songs to the episode's soundtrack.

Bourdain has many reservations about those who are vegan or vegetarian - namely, that their lifestyle is rude to those who inhabit the many countries he visits - considering vegetarianism a "first world luxury".[18]

[edit] Serious interests

One serious personal cause for Bourdain is communicating the value and tastiness of traditional or "peasant" foods, including specifically all of the varietal bits and unused animal parts not usually eaten by affluent 21st-century Westerners. Bourdain has also consistently noted and championed the high quality and deliciousness of freshly prepared street food in other countries—especially developing countries—as compared to fast food chains in the U.S.

Another of Bourdain's major concerns is acknowledging and championing the industrious Spanish-speaking immigrants who make up a very large percentage of the chefs and cooks in many U.S. restaurants, including upscale restaurants, regardless of cuisine. Bourdain considers them to be talented chefs and invaluable cooks, underpaid and unrecognized even as they make up the backbone of the U.S. restaurant industry.[19][20][21]

[edit] Awards and nominations

Bourdain was named Food Writer of the Year in 2001 by Bon Appétit magazine, for Kitchen Confidential. [22]

A Cook's Tour was named Food Book of the Year in 2002 by the British Guild of Food Writers. [23]

The Beirut episode of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, which documented the experiences of Bourdain and his crew during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict, was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Informational Programming in 2007.

Bourdain's blog for the reality competition show Top Chef [7] was nominated for a Webby Award for best Blog – Culture / Personal in 2008.[8]

[edit] Bibliography

  • Bourdain, Anthony (1995). Bone in the Throat. New York: Villard Books. ISBN 0679435522. 
  • Bourdain, Anthony (1997). Gone Bamboo. New York: Villard Books. ISBN 0679448802. 
  • Bourdain, Anthony (2001). Bobby Gold. Edinburgh: Canongate Crime. ISBN 1841951455. 

[edit] Footnotes

  1. ^ Bourdain's biography on
  2. ^ "Les Halles Homepage". Brasserie Les Halles. Retrieved on 2007-06-18. 
  3. ^ Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, episode 5.4: "Uruguay"; July 28, 2008
  4. ^ The Observer (2006-04-30). "Regrets? He's had a few ...". Guardian.,,1761844,00.html. Retrieved on 2007-06-16. 
  5. ^ Lindsay Soll (2007-05-11). "Monitor". Celebrity Baby Blog.,,20037733,00.html. Retrieved on 2007-06-14. 
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ a b Anthony's Blog: Read Anthony Bourdain's Online Blog - Top Chef TV Show - Official Bravo TV Site
  8. ^ a b Webby Nominees
  9. ^ Anthony Bourdain. Interview with Larry King. Twelve Days of Conflict Between Israel and Hezbollah. Larry King Live. CNN. 23 July 2006. Retrieved on 2007-06-16.
  10. ^ Far Cry (2008)
  11. ^ Anthony Bourdain | The A.V. Club
  12. ^ Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, episode 3.4: "Namibia"; January 22, 2007
  13. ^ Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, episode 1.2: "Iceland"; August 1, 2005
  14. ^ Bourdain, Anthony (2001). A Cook's Tour. New York: Bloomsbury. pp. 248–9. ISBN 1582341400. 
  15. ^ Hudak, Joseph (2008-01-07). "Anthony Bourdain Speaks His Mind with No Reservations". TV Guide. Retrieved on 2008-03-20. 
  16. ^ Bourdain, Anthony (2000). Kitchen Confidential. New York: Bloomsbury. pp. 123. ISBN 158234082X. 
  17. ^ The Serious Eats Team (2007-03-02). "Meet & Eat: Anthony Bourdain". Serious Eats. Retrieved on 2007-06-16. 
  18. ^ [2]
  19. ^ Bourdain, Anthony (2000). Kitchen Confidential. New York: Bloomsbury. 
  20. ^ Bourdain, Anthony (2001). A Cook's Tour. New York: Bloomsbury, pp. 200-217.
  21. ^ Bourdain, Anthony (2006). The Nasty Bits. New York: Bloomsbury, pp. 42-46.
  22. ^ "Bon Appetit names award winners"
  23. ^ Guild Of Food Writers

[edit] References

[edit] External links

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