The Anthony Bourdain Beirut experience is one to remember

World-famous chef and TV host Anthony Bourdain visits Beirut to showcase the city's food and culture. The Beirut episode is one of his popular trips so far.
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  • Bourdain's producers made a decision to compile the behind-the-scenes footage of Anthony Bourdain and his production staff. This footage did not only include their first attempts to film the TV episode, but also the firsthand encounters with the Hezbollah supporters and their few days of waiting for information with other expatriates in the Beirut hotel. The footage also contained their eventual escape which was aided by a fixer, whom Bourdain called Mr. Wolf after the Harvey Keitel's character in the movie “Pulp Fiction." Anthony Bourdain and his crew members were finally evacuated from Beirut with other American citizens very early on July 20, 2006, by the United States Marine. The particular Beirut “No Reservations episode” that aired on August 21 in 2006 was nominated for the Emmy Award in 2007.
  • Anthony Bourdain Beirut Episode

  • Bourdain related all his experiences and stated that he spent two extremely magical days meeting some Beirutis, all of whom were full of pride for a kind of new burgeoning, relatively tolerant, and westernized Beirut. The horror began while he was standing outside of Harir Memorial. He stood with a Shiite, a Sunni, and a Christian when they began to hear loud gunfire in the surrounding environment, they also saw cars filled with some Hezbollah supporters who were celebrating their successful kidnapping of some Israeli soldiers.
  • The look on the faces of the four companions was a look of shame, dismay, embarrassment, and loss of hope as they all appeared to know immediately know what was inevitably going to happen next. Beirut was a paradise on earth. Bourdain was heartbroken as doubts filled his mind as to if they will never have an opportunity to show the world how hopeful the place was, how tolerant, how proud, and a kind of dream version of how he wanted the Middle East to be like some day. He described the people as sophisticated, friendly, largely English-speaking, and food-centric. The day passed, and they hoped things would change.
  • The next day, however, it was becoming apparent that this situation had drastically deteriorated. It was so bad that Bourdain’s local handlers ran away, and he was left alone with his crew. Soon, they were evacuated to a much safer hotel. A majority of the footage was dedicated to the surreal and heartbreaking moments that follow as Anthony Bourdain, his crew, and some other hotel guests literally see the war begin from a swimming pool which overlooks the city of Beirut. To Bourdain’s credit, the TV show showed him in both his good and terrible moments, and his narration made it clear that, even though the experience had deeply affected him, he was aware that he’s a lucky one.
    He will live to air more “happy” travel shows. However, the people he had left behind in the city had vagueness and danger ahead. Bourdain stated that, for him, it was two days of paradise to days of heartbreak from watching all of the friendly people, a lot of whom were Lebanese-Americans that previously returned to their homeland or the Lebanese who had left during the preceding civil war, who came back to attempt to make a better Beirut, and a better Lebanon. They thought it was a great time to do it, but they had to watch all their hopes dismantled before their eyes gradually. It was an awful thing to see.
  • Evacuation from Beirut

  • Bourdain left after a lot of waiting and waking up to constant bombing every day for just over a week on USS Nashville. He commended the efforts of the Marines and sailors of the ship that was called upon to help with the planned evacuation at the very last minute. People don’t think of the word "tender," kind “and "sensitive" when they think of the people in the Marine Corps, but these men were truly incredible to the individuals they evacuated.

    They shot what they could shoot given the circumstances, but Bourdain believes there was some footage that should not be placed on air because of the horror it may bring to viewers. He made that decision because what they went through in the city of Beirut was nothing compared to what the Beirutis themselves have been going through. When asked if he would love to go back someday and perhaps finish what he started years ago, he replied that he would certainly love to return. He stated that a few of the things, he would like to show viewers would include what Beirut looked like before the deadly conflict and perhaps what it could be in the nearest future. Bourdain was proud of what they had filmed of the sailors and Marines, but, he didn't feel comfortable airing the agonizing moments before the Marines came to their rescue and evacuated them from the war-torn city.
  • After the journey

  • Bourdain believes that his trip to Beirut was unfinished business, and so he planned to return and accomplish the mission that took him there in the first place, food, culture, and language. He also wanted to show the world how beautiful Beirut was, how good their food is, how nice the Beirutis he met are, and how hopeful he is of a better country like the one he saw for only two brief days.
  • He particularly loved the implausible tradition of hospitality, mostly at the dining table. Their love for parties and their great pride in resilience. It was so sad for Bourdain to see all of that culture and pride, that helped them survive, disappear in an instant.

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