We are deeply saddened to hear about Anthony Bourdain’s sudden passing. He was a trailblazer in the industry, a champion of culture and food, and a beloved member of our Chowhound community. We chatted with the “Parts Unknown” host in April and, today, reflect on the legacy he leaves behind.
This story was originally published on April 4, 2018:
Anthony Bourdain has no fear of failure, which may have something to do with all the successes he’s racked up over the years. One of his latest projects has been shooting season 11 of “Parts Unknown”, but he recently made time to chat with our community manager and answer a few questions about his work and life, which are inextricably intertwined.
He can list a lot of things on his resume: cook, professional eater, TV producer/star, author…but there are some things he hasn’t gotten the hang of, like bass guitar. If he could play bass, he says he’d love to jam with Parliament-Funkadelic, though if he started his own band it would be called Fifty One.
Among the arts he has mastered is writing books, from his first non-fiction exploration of the culinary underbelly, “Kitchen Confidential”, to 2016’s “Appetites: A Cookbook”. But he’s also worked on comics, like the lushly illustrated “Hungry Ghosts” collection, a horror anthology with tales based on “existing classic Japanese ghost stories from the Edo Period.” They’re all connected by a common thread of food, so Bourdain also included recipes to go along with them.
And then there’s “Get Jiro!” and the follow-up/prequel, “Get Jiro: Blood and Sushi”. The former is set in a near-distant future Los Angeles where, according to Amazon, “master chefs rule the town like crime lords and people literally kill for a seat at the best restaurants.” The prequel explores the origins of the titular character, a Yakuza crime-family heir turned chef.
Unsurprisingly, Bourdain was “very inspired by the Japanese manga called ‘Oishinbo’…a great primer on Japanese food and culture”—as well as by classic Japanese samurai and gangster films.
He’s also a huge fan of Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai, and his longtime cinematographer, Christopher Doyle, who Bourdain calls one of “the world’s greatest living cinematographers.” When shooting “Parts Unknown” in Hong Kong, Doyle was scheduled to be a guest on the show, but “ended up being the director of photography” for the entire episode, which “was an honor and a pleasure.”
The same episode was directed by actress Asia Argento, who is also Bourdain’s girlfriend, and who he credits with teaching him “a tremendous amount.”
“I have to thank her for maybe making me a better person,” he says, “a smarter person, and for changing my life in many, many wonderful ways.”
Plenty of people would say he’s done similar things for them, and are very glad he’s still roaming the world and documenting his experiences and impressions of it through food. His appetite shows no signs of waning, although he did tell us he wouldn’t try hákarl (Iceland’s fermented shark delicacy) again.
Check out the community discussion here to find out where he prefers to dine while traveling, what he packs in his daughter’s lunch, and if there’s anything else he wouldn’t eat.
Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown season 11 begins on Sunday, April 29 at 9pm ET/PT with a trip to West Virginia, in a special extended episode.
Header image courtesy of Instagram/@anthonybourdain.