Profiles: Anthony Bourdain
Trying Everything at Least Once
He gets excited wherever he doesn't understand the language, wherever he can't read the menus, and anywhere he doesn't know anyone. But he's sure that's where he'll find great food and divine drinks. Fifty-something and looking like a cross between an alternative rock star and a drug-addiction survivor, Anthony Bourdain is one hot tamale that is never served cold, and which is paired with a glass of adrenaline.
At age 10, while visiting his father in France, Bourdain lost his gastronomic virginity when he tasted an oyster for the first time. After that, nothing was ever the same. A rainbow of flavors, smells and colors would bring into his life a kaleidoscope of sensations that he turned into a lifestyle.
When he was finishing culinary school he was also graduating into a full-fledged heroin user. This was an addiction that took him eight years to beat. He assures that it was "pretty dreary. It's the least interesting thing about me. But, you know, there's only two TV movies of these stories, you know? And at the end of story, the guy OD's, or [at] the end of the story the guy gets better. I got better. I buckled down. I became a working cook and did the best I could." He did it so well that he is now executive chef at Brasserie Les Halles, a restaurant that offers French exquisiteness in the middle of Manhattan, and is the author of eight books.
"He's the same wild boy who wants to try it all," says his mother, a copy editor at The New York Times. The same boy who raises his apron to reveal a brand-new skull tattoo.
Bourdain and his team from the TV show "No Reservations" have been eating around the world for the past six years, landing in places as unusual as the food served there. Nevertheless, when Bourdain wrote his book, Kitchen Confidential, he had not been anywhere. The book remained in the best-seller lists for 44 weeks and was translated into 22 languages. Now with the book's success and his TV gig, he's been everywhere. These experiences have led him to conclude that some of the best meals he's ever had have come from the most disgusting establishments, with abominable bathrooms and pigs and chickens running around the dining table. These types of experiences, he says, have terrified many people instead of motivating them to take more risks when it comes to eating.