#1 Bourdain's not just a best-selling author. He's also a best-selling comic book author.
Bourdain recently co-wrote Get Jiro: Blood and Sushi, the prequel to his New York Times best-selling comic about an aspiring sushi master born into one of Tokyo’s most notorious mob families. “Getting the food correct both in the first book and this one was always important,” Bourdain told Eater. “And little nerdy details that — I think if you're not serious about food, and you don't love Japanese food, you might well miss.”
#2 Bourdain is a New Yorker, but he got his start in Provincetown.
While sharing a house with high school friends in Provincetown MA, Bourdain was recruited into the restaurant industry when one of the rent-paying housemates returned from work and said, “Our dishwasher didn’t show up today. You’re our new dishwasher.” On a homecoming episode of Parts Unknown, Bourdain remembers that “the next day I put on the apron and I didn’t take it off for the next 30 years. I fell in love with the whole business and the whole subculture.”
#3 When you read posts from his social media, it’s probably Bourdain behind the keyboard.
Love him or hate him, you can’t argue with the genuineness of Anthony Bourdain. He took over the Facebook and Twitter accounts for No Reservations practically from the outset. Bourdain admitted to TV Guide, though, that it was in large part a defensive measure. “I didn't want it to be one of those ‘Hey, everybody! Be sure to tune in!’ sort of things. I'm a control freak. If you're going to slap my name on something, I would like to control it.”
#4 Bourdain seeks the exotic but there’s no exotica quite like the Waffle House.
Bourdain travels to third world countries most of us have never heard of, eating food we wouldn't think of, yet he can still be wowed by the simple things back here in the states, as he recently shared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. "More important than anything, I discovered the glories of the waffle House. Talk about exotica. I had never been. It's apparently a place you can go, and no matter how wrecked and obnoxious you are, or how late at night, they're nice to you. I had the best time there."
#5 Bourdain also loves In-N-Out Burger.
In a lengthy SB Nation interview, Bourdain professed his admiration for the west coast burger mini-chain. “In-N-Out Burger actually pays their workers and treats them decently. They source their meat through their own supply chain. It's decent meat and they cook everything to order. It's not some piece of pre-cooked frozen cardboard, sprayed with beef flavor to make it taste like a burger. In-N-Out is real, fresh ground beef that's cooked to order. I think that makes a big difference. It's not only better for you, it's just a much more delicious eating experience.”
#6 Bourdain has a reputation as a bad ass, but it's his wife who can kick your ass.
A professionally trained mixed martial arts fighter with eyes on the UFC, Ottavia Busia Bourdain in August 2015 also attained blue belt status in Brazilian Jiu Jutsu. Oh, and she’s also a regular on the competition circuit. Once every bit the smoker and drinker as her more famous husband, she gave up those vices to pursue a career in combat. But she’s just as brash, once calling out a steak at a famous Las Vegas restaurant as “an abomination.”
#7 Kitchen Confidential, the book that put Bourdain on the literary map, took a serendipitous route.
In 1999, after nearly three decades in restaurants, Bourdain wrote an behind-the-scenes exposé intended for The New York Press, a now-defunct alternative weekly. “The idea was to entertain other cooks and chefs,” Bourdain recalls. “But in a moment of drunken humor, I withdrew the article and sent it to The New Yorker. Forty-eight hours after the article was published, I had a book deal.“
Believing that it would never gain widespread circulation—and “the general ill-will of the unsatisfied, the envious and the marginal”—enabled the rawness in the writing. “I never could have written the thing had I thought people would actually read it.” To this day, Bourdain remains steadfastly self-deprecating about his own fame. “I messed up in every possible way,” he told Stephen Colber on The Late Show. “I did everything wrong. My life was a botch. I was still dunking French fries at age 44. I just screwed up magnificently. I wrote an obnoxious book and that somehow turned into a TV show."
#8 The food personalities Bourdain attacks sometimes fight back.
Bourdain’s food industry feuds are legendary, and most involve hosts from the Food Network: Emeril Lagasse, Sandra Lee, Rachael Ray, Guy Fieri, Paula Deen. But he’s not afraid to go after food writers such as Adam Richman of GQ, whom he named the “douchebag” category winner in his facetious Golden Clog awards at the 2008 South Beach Wine & Food Festival.
Richman returned that salvo with a scathing review of Les Halles, the brasserie at which Bourdain was chef before his writing and television careers made him a household word. Using Bourdain’s return to the restaurant for an episode of The Travel Channel’s No Reservations as a launching point, Richman questioned the departed chef’s role as ongoing consultant: “it's hard to know what a place that specializes in the hoariest of French dishes would need from an American who wasn't much of a chef back in the days when he worked at being one.”
Richman ends the review with a little humor: “What's more appalling than the food or even the absurd title of Chef-at-Large is that the smirking Bourdain has somehow become the de facto public face of the restaurant industry. It's as if Steven Seagal had been named president of the Screen Actors Guild.”
#9 Bourdain attacks celebrity chefs but stands up for the little guy.
On SiriusXM's StandUP With Pete Dominick, Bourdain criticized Donald Trump’s position on illegal immigration. But more than a stand against Trump, it was a stand for the rank and file immigrants in kitchens across America.
“I rolled out of a prestigious culinary institute and went to work in real restaurants. Always, the person who had been there the longest, who took the time to show me how it was done, was always Mexican or Central American.” Bourdain noted that in twenty years as a restaurant manager/employer, “not once did anyone walk into my restaurant — any American-born kid — walk into my restaurant and say I'd like a job as a night porter or a dishwasher. Even a prep cook — few and far between. Just not willing to start at the bottom like that.”
#10 Bourdain doesn’t like vegetarians. Sometimes.
In his 1999 The New Yorker essay, Bourdain referred to vegetarians as “enemies of everything that’s good and decent in the human spirit. To live life without veal or chicken stock, fish cheeks, sausages, cheese, or organ meats is treasonous.”
Still clinging that notion in 2010, Bourdain claimed in Medium Raw that it wasn’t just schtick, but that it also wasn’t personal. He doesn’t care what you eat in your own home, and even respects vegetarianism based on religious beliefs. “But the idea of a vegetarian traveler in comfortable shoes waving away the hospitality of, say, a Vietnamese pho vendor (or an Italian mother-in-law, for that matter)” fills him with “sputtering indignation.”