Anthony Bourdain’s death shocked the world. The New York City chef became a best selling author and host of popular travel programs which focused on food and culture. A true Renaissance man, Bourdain had many other talents and tories. Here’s what you didn’t know about the famous chef.
13. A Big Legacy
Anthony Bourdain was a traveler, chef, documentarian and beloved food icon. His TV shows demonstrated real life of culinary arts and took viewers to places they never dreamed of to discover the food, sights and people of new cultures. His TV shows included A Cook’s Tour, No Reservations, The Layover, Parts Unknown, and a YouTube project called RawCraft.
12. Famous Writer
Unlike most of the stars on The Food Network, who ran famous restaurants and then jumped into TV, Bourdain made his fortune as a writer. Although the head chef of Les Halles, Bourdain was still an unknown when he published his 2000 book Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly. The book became a New York Times Best Seller and was a show starring Bradley Cooper during the 2005-2006 TV season.
11. Queens of the Stone Age
When Bourdain took his show to CNN, he got together with one of his best friends to record the theme song. Josh Homme met Bourdain when Queens Of The Stone Age played a holiday episode of the Travel Channel show No Reservations in 2008. Homme and QOTSA collaborator Mark Lanegan recorded a special theme song for Parts Unknown.
Bourdain was a staff writer for David Simon’s post-Katrina drama, Treme. Simon was desperate to meet Bourdain, so he asked him to have dinner to pick his brains about Treme’s female chef character. However, after meeting, Simon decided that he needed Bourdain to write for the show to lend the character and the kitchen scenes authenticity. Bourdain was already a great fan of the show, and he said the experience was the most creatively fulfilling of his life.
9. Comic Author
Bourdain said comic books were his first love. In his youth, he was a fan of avant garde comic pioneers like R. Crumb. In 2012, he co-wrote two graphic novels: 2012’s Get Jiro! and 2015’s sequel, Get Jiro! Blood and Sushi, with longtime friend Joel Rose. Karen Berger, who founded Vertigo, later signed him to work on Hungry Ghosts with her Dark Horse imprint. His most recent comic release was Hungry Ghosts, released in January.
8. Literary Family
Gladys Bourdain is 97 years old and has worked for the New York Times as an editor for decades. She remembered her son as a “fiesty and talented individual” who became interested in cooking after working as a dishwasher as a teen. Bourdain had to fill in for the chef one night in 1978 in Provincetown and then told his parents he wanted to drop out of Vassar.
7. A French Father
Anthony was the first son of Pierre Bourdain, an executive for Columbia Records, whose parents were French. Pierre spoke the language and spent his summers in France. Pierre Bourdain worked two jobs, as a salesman in a camera store and as floor manager at a record store, before getting his job at Columbia. Pierre died at age 57.
6. Husband of a MMA Fighter
Bourdain and his wife Ottavia Busia split officially in 2016, but did not finalize their divorce. They were set up by Bourdain’s friend Eric Ripert, the chef at Le Bernardin. Busia was worked 14-16 hour shifts as a general manager of a restaurant. She later became an MMA fighter after becoming obsessed with jiu jitsu.
Anthony always considered himself a writer first. In the 1990’s, while still working as a chef, he wrote two novels. 1995’s Bone in the Throat is a crime novel that takes place in a restaurant owned by a mobster. 1997’s Gone Bamboo is about a retired assassin and his assassin wife, who are pulled back into the game when a mobster invades their Caribbean island.
4. History Writer
After Kitchen Confidential, Bloomsbury hired Bourdain to write a book in its “Urban Historical” series. The first was the story of Typhoid Mary, who unwittingly spread Typhoid Fever in turn of the century New York.
3. He Didn’t Have a Savings Account Until He Was 44
Anthony Bourdain never made much money and was always one paycheck behind on his bills. He ran up credit cards and had a huge cocaine habit. When Kitchen Confidential was published, he had not filed his taxes for 10 years. In his best and last kitchen job, he was making about $800 a week after taxes.
Anthony Bourdain did his own documentaries but worked on other projects as well. His production credits include Wasted! The Story of Kitchen Waste and Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent. He also appeared on camera for the Jeremiah Tower documentary.
1. Not a Food Snob
In 2012, Marilyn Hagerty, a North Dakota newspaper columnist published a review of her city’s new Olive Garden. The review appeared in the Grand Forks Herald and once it went online, it was critically criticized by many who thought that the chain restaurant was subpar. Anthony Bourdain saw the viral article and decided that “Marilyn Hagerty’s years of reviews to be a history of dining in the America too few of us from the coasts have seen. We need to see.” He published her reviews in a collection entitled Grand Forks: A History of American Dining in 128 Reviews and even wrote the forward.