Anthony Bourdain: Things You Didn’t Know


The world was wrenched on 8th of June, 2018, when it was broadcasted that Bourdain had committed suicide. The news went viral and left millions in tears, especially the chef community of the world as he was regarded amongst the top-tier chefs. Sharing his attributes, the first thing about him was that the late chef was in the news all the time—primarily, because of his witty remarks which he used for other chefs. However, he was a person who was in love with food, with people, and with old traditions that his country had.

Anthony gained his fame through years of strenuous work which he did in his kitchen thinking and writing about his recipes. And his efforts bore fruit when he released his first bestseller book “Culinary Tradition” which made him rise to one of the best in his field. At the peak of his career, he was drinking beer with President of the United States Barack Obama and was calling Iggy Pop his buddy. Anthony had done much for not only chefs but also for many others who are marginalized in the society, and this good of him compelled us to write about him. As he took his heavenly abode, we share some moments of his life which you haven’t heard about him.


He Didn’t Have Much Fortune

Anthony didn’t have that much wealth as compared to the rumors he had. It was shocking when his total net worth was calculated after his death: it came out to be ten times less than the news had reported. He just had $1.2 million in his accounts, which was a meagre amount considering the fact that he had been a renowned celebrity. This reduction of assets was due to his donations which he frequently gave to different trusts, secretly. However, in one of his interviews when asked about his assets, he explained that people have just exaggerated his wealth and he didn’t have that much amount as they have expected it to be.

Even when interviewed, Anthony’s show managers said that he had been a thoroughly humble guy who loved to stay low, and for that he used to stay minimal. He even refused to choose suites or five-star hotels when offered and often took the same residence which his team had selected for themselves. The wealth which he left was then transferred to the deceased’s daughter.


Did Not Like “Fame”

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In order to know about Anthony’s personality, one must contact those who have long accompanied him in his journey. For example, his manager who remained with him most of the time: Michiko Zentoh, Anthony’s first manager, Michiko, had remained long with Anthony in Japan and his views about him were that “Tony” was natural and he remained like it, wherever he went.

Moreover, when Anthony started working at CNN, his viewership became doubled and he was receiving more fame and appreciation. But, instead of growing bold over this, Anthony turned inward and the consequence of inwardness was that he remained aloof from all the hustle and bustle of the set and was confined to a single place. He used to remain alone as his director reported, and often went on streets without informing his crew. But his girlfriend, Asia, said that the chef was happy living like this.


Anthony and Asia: Things the World Didn’t Know

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People burst into tears after hearing the tragic suicide news of Anthony Bourdain when he took his life in the south of France while filming an episode for Parts Unknown. They were shocked to hear about the death of a humble celebrity whose whole fortune was love for humanity and its betterment. Therefore, it became really important for the public to know why Anthony had attempted such an act. The media and public’s opinion went on to suspect Anthony’s girlfriend Asia who was accused of cheating on Anthony with a much younger man.

The allegations on her were proven to be true when she was seen with another guy, and the public assumed that that was the reason behind Anthony’s suicide. But later on, as the matter got worse, she clarified herself in words like “Yes, I had cheated on Anthony, but he was cheating on me too. And we both are not children; we are adults, and we both understand each other whenever we meet.” She said she was grieved too, but she couldn’t find an answer to clarify that she didn’t make him quit.


When Sadness and Nostalgia Strikes: The Last Episode of Bourdain

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We all remember the Parts Unknown ending and also the sad vibes which it gave. The ending was more of a description of the timeline of Anthony’s life. The scenes in which Anthony was moving and explaining different parts in Eastern side of New York—famous for poverty, drugs and punk rockers—a place where Anthony spent most of his life. It felt like he was telling us how he grew up, and how these streets had impacted him. Esquire says that the last part of Anthony’s show was a story of his life.

The way he tells it in the episode clearly represents the feelings he was having at that time. He was not acting in those scenes; he was living them, according to Esquire. Anthony even said at the last of the show that “these unpaved roads and old apartments with cheap rents had made more bonds than those skyscrapers”. This was how he made his epic farewell from the show.


Shy and Not Out-Spoken

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Anthony was a class apart. A shy, introverted person with a soft voice and a good ability to connect with others were his top qualities. Anyone who encountered him once, remembered him for a long period of time.

However, few people who are very close to him shared many attributes of Anthony which he kept secret from the world. In an interview with GQ, Anthony’s childhood friend, Sam, shared that for him Tony was a little kid who was often messed up. He then shared about his trip with Anthony, in which he made him tour the resort on some luggage rack and then how much fun they had doing that. Like Sam, Collins, the manager of Anthony, also shared his views of Bourdain that he remained aloof to them when they were in Tokyo for shooting. Always isolated, never talking and sometimes even not mentioning his presence. However, when they went to Vietnam, Anthony’s behavior with them changed a little bit—maybe because he felt connected to the environment, with local traditions or cuisines which he tasted there.


He Spoke About His Depression

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Anthony had suffered a lot in his life; he faced severe traumas and these traumas made him enter in a constant phase of depression. Sometimes, he even shared them on TV. Just like in his 2016 interview in Part Unknown, where he was sharing his story about how he had spent years in the kitchen, and how a single hamburger made him reflect on those days and depress him. He told the correspondent that sometimes he felt inadequate, an isolated soul with lots of regrets and that was something he couldn’t escape from.


From the Vault: He Wrote Crime Thrillers As Well

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It is often believed that Kitchen Confidential was the first book which Anthony wrote. Surprisingly, this isn’t true. Anthony wrote a series of books in different categories like comics, thrillers and fiction—but none of them became a success for him. The first book which he wrote was “A Bone in the Throat ” in which he made a hero that resembled his personality.

After that, he wrote “Gone Bamboo: which although sounds good but didn’t become a bestseller. After that, he tried for a crime thriller. In an interview with the NYTimes, he shared that he always wanted to write about a guy who lived through crime, and reiterated that he loved crime genre.


And He Was Serious About Comics  

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Looking at the remarkable career of Anthony Bourdain, one may think that he always dreamed of becoming a chef. This notion was proven wrong when it was discovered that Anthony had approached the founder of D.C Comics, Karen Berger and had presented her his comics. She acquainted him over this and worked with him in producing “Get Jiro!”. She said about him that the late chef was ambitious about his work, a fan of darker comics and he always wished to be called a writer.

After comics, Anthony tried his luck in writing novels. He wrote some pieces, but most of the time, he was turned down by publishers on the grounds that they weren’t good enough or were up to the mark. But, he remained steadfast till he wrote a culinary book which completely changed his life.


No Shooting In Switzerland

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Anthony was a brave guy. In all his career, he had been seen filming in one of the harshest environments, war-torn countries or areas which were having serious conflicts and He was there shooting. According to him, he found no difficulty in doing his shooting there.

However, there was one place which made him so terrified that he refused to shoot his film there. You will be surprised to know it was not any dangerous place of the third-world, but the heart of Europe: Switzerland. Yes, Anthony said to Conan O’Brian that he faced immense fear in Switzerland and from everything with the name of Swiss over it. He just couldn’t bear it. The reason is still unknown why he said that. But it is believed that it made him remember some of his past memories.


Trip Down Memory Lane: How Anthony Developed Those Adventurous Tastes

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Anthony belonged to a humble family of New Jersey. A family where it is often told to kids to refrain from drinking or to enter in adult affairs. He was facing family constraints all the time.

Although the intention of the parents was to keep him away from growing bad habits, it made him curious about such tastes. He used to question them about their parties, and sometimes even ask them to have the same delight which they were having. In his interview to Guardian, he said he wanted to have those tastes not because they weren’t meant for him but because of the reaction he received after tasting them. So, what made a kid like Anthony to rebel was not his peculiar nature but the feeling of grass is greener on the other side.


At Home, No Drinks

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We know Anthony as traveling the world eating the local cuisine and drinking… sometimes excessively; he loved to drink and often times the late chef was an avid drinker. During the filming of Parts Unknown, they may have seen him gulping the bottle every now and then. But you will be amazed to know that he never drank at his home. He said to Men’s Journal that although he was a drinker, he never took any of his habit to take over him and ruin his life. He mentioned that he wanted his home to be private and good. He said when he was into something he remained in it temporarily—without making it a matter of life and death. For him, every taste and delight was temporary save the taste and delight of food.


Love—and Hate—for Food

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Anthony, by the virtue of his profession, had to taste a lot of cuisines, and after that he had to give his honest remarks about them. But he admitted in one of the episodes of his I Am A Reddit that he had some personal biases towards fast food, and especially that fast food macaroni with cheese.


Despised Food Trends

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Anthony was a blunt and an honest guy who loved food. He openly shared his thoughts without any hindrance or hesitation, and often while he spoke, it turned out to be the very right thing. Like for once, when he was conducting I Am A on Reddit, and when asked about the trends which should end now, he replied that he wanted to see spicy pumpkins to end.

He even criticized the on-going trends of cleansing juices and gluten-free snacks—this was especially aimed at those who don’t have any medical concern and at those who are just overly cynical. Moreover, he showered his opinion when asked over “Bro-Food” in words that he can’t digest the idea that there is a male as well as a female food! Food is food, according to him.


His Most Cherished Possession

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Anthony had immense respect for artists, especially those who made artifacts from clay or from iron, etc. During his series Raw Crafts, he tried to portray these individuals on the screen and even made public to embrace them as beautiful people who are making their lives colorful. The series was not only focused on food, but it had a significant portion for artists too where they presented themselves.

His love for artisans became even more evident when he was asked during his series I Am A Reddit, whether he is going to take Bob Kramer’s Knife home or not. The knife had a price tag of 22,000 dollars and was made of meteorite iron especially for Anthony Bourdain. He said that he wanted to take it but it was beyond what he could afford. And after the wait of one year, he finally was able to buy it. He said after buying it that that it was the most precious thing which he owned and he looked forward to the food worthy enough to be cut by it! After his death, his estate was auctioned off and Anthony’s most prized possession fetched for $231,250.


He Disliked “Brunch”

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Anthony didn’t like the whole idea of brunch even though it is popular in New York i.e. his home town. But he couldn’t convince himself to accept it. Probably, the reason behind this was the grueling days he spent working in a restaurant. He said in an interview that he hated every minute of it when he was cooking more than 300 fried eggs a day along with waffles, French Toasts and pancakes. “The smell of these foods overwhelms you and you can’t resist them. That’s when you started to hate them”, these were his words. He added that the late chef was a desperately in need of money, and he hated working every single day for it in that place.


He Liked His Bacon Roasted

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It is often said that if you want to rise on the top, you have to do things your way. This was also the case with Anthony. Anthony had his ways of cooking foods which didn’t resemble the other world. For example, his way to cook bacon was revolutionary in its own sense. He didn’t fry bacon but he used an oven to roast it. He said in his interview to Dave that he just doesn’t feel right to fry bacon. He even joked about it that one should never fry a bacon if he is nude!  


He Did Dishes

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Anthony didn’t come from a well-off and a wealthy family, and just like any other ordinary guy, he had to work hard to earn his living. His first job was as a dishwasher. And, Anthony considered his first job a very significant part of his life. He said that although it was backbreaking to wash those dishes, but for a shy, unfriendly guy who doesn’t fit very well in public, it gave him a sense of meaning and focus. As he spoke to Guardian, he shared that while he was doing dishes it filled him with purpose—a sense of accomplishment, and these positive feelings kept him striving for betterment.


The Watershed Moment: His Visit to Japan

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Anthony loved to travel and he had travelled around nearly all continents of the world. It is worth mentioning here that he did some traveling before he acquired fame. In an interview with Men’s Journal, he revealed that the late chef was amazed when he first travelled to the land of rising sun i.e. Japan. He said that his trip made him change his perspective completely. If he considered three colors as primary colors in his life, after that trip it surged to 12. The trip widened his perspective, and made him feel that the late chef was just living in a block and there was much more in this world that he had not experienced.


Kitchen Confidential Gave Him the Much-Needed Boost

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Anthony hit the fortune after his first cooking book “Kitchen Confidential” hit the shelves. The book turned his life 180-degrees, and made him a celebrity. That book was considered to be revolutionary as it had completely changed the way world looked at food. As a result of this success, Anthony had gained enough fortune that he left his tiresome job which he always wanted to quit.

The whole idea of the book started when the late chef started writing a few lines about his life, inspired by Orwell. When asked by a correspondent of Fresh Air, he replied that he just intended to write; like a traveler with no destination writes. Over time, his book became a NYTimes Bestseller.


He Struggled Financially  

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Anthony had a rough beginning to the destination of being one of the best chefs of the world. He was seen in videos where he was struggling to get two meals a day, and this continued till he was 44—the year when his book was published. He told a reporter that till his forties he had no idea about his life, and all the days which he spent usually involved feelings of stress, fear and of debt which he had to pay. He did not have any health insurance and even was unable to pay his rent. He said that although he was now comfortable with the luxuries he had, the days he spent in poverty left a significant mark on his personality.


Lebanon Re-routed Anthony Bourdain’s Career

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In 2006, Anthony embarked on a journey to Lebanon—expecting that he would be met with cheerful cities, full of festivities. As the flight of Anthony landed on Lebanon’s capital, he was totally shocked. He was expecting a delightful country, but there was war going on. The city was overwhelmed by bombs, fighter jets and horror. Anthony was frightened to see this, and he was then taken to the emergency evacuation center. This dreadful site became a life-changing moment for Anthony as that day he saw a world of cruelty and suffering. His trip made him realize what actual conflict looks like and how devastating it is. This softened him to the core of his heart, and made him work in the lines of humanity and peace.


Belittling His Colleagues

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Anthony is known for many things which he used to do out of habit, and one of his habits was squabbling with his rival chefs all the time like, for instance, Bobby Flay. He remained critical of them and often gave slanderous remarks over their cooking. However, it became apparent lately that he had left his cruel side and had become emphatic. The evidence of it was his much less fierce remarks over his infamous rival Guy Fieri. He used to bash him on TV all the time, but few years later, he was showing gentleness toward him as well. Adding to it, he remained silent over Ms. Deen for many years which is quite unusual if we look in the initial years of his career on TV.


Against Food Being Wasted

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Anthony didn’t like to advocate or support things in public. He remained conserved, but on the matter of food wastage, he openly raised his voice over the issue and preached how bad the situation was. About 1/3 of the food produced in the world go into waste, and Anthony was mad over it. He said there were people who died out of hunger, and “here we are”. He even worked as a producer in a documentary named as “wastage” based on food waste. According to him, this issue had become personal to him as he had been a cook for quite long and he cannot accept that food is being wasted anywhere. Furthermore, he emphasized that it is a collective responsibility to value food which is being served on the table. And if there is some of the food left, Anthony suggested that, we should not throw it away!


He Had A Heart For Minorities and the Marginalized

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Anthony had been a representative of not only the chef community but also of those communities which were vulnerable—particularly the minorities. This is evident from the prayers he received from different communities on the day he passed.

NPR even referred to Anthony in words like that the late chef was a voice for those who are being shut, being marginalized and who are left stranded. He used his cuisines to represent these communities. He told the stories of those individuals who cooked, people who were mostly from minorities, in order to bring them in the forelight. He showed how tiring and grueling are the struggles which these people face. Khaild Beydoun, a Law professor at Detroit University, also shared his views on Anthony that he humanizes minorities and their issues without including the element of politics in them. And this made people love him even more!  


He Regretted Not Doing Enough For Women

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As the news broke of Harvey Weinstein assault scandal, people were shocked. Anthony was also heartbroken to see this as his own girlfriend was being allegedly assaulted by that vile creature unworthy of being called a human. He explained to Slate that how this incident had been an eye-opener for him, and made him think about the difficulties in speaking up. Asia was close to his heart so he felt deeply. He further added that he can’t believe how much time he has wasted. It was shameful for him. But now he was aware of this and he said that the late chef was working against this “meathead culture”.


A Die-Hard MMA Enthusiast

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Anthony Bourdain was an ardent practitioner of jiu-jitsu. For a regular viewer of Anthony show “Parts Unknown”, it was clear that the late chef was in great shape especially considering how much he drank…. Even in some shows, Anthony performed some moves of jiu-jitsu—specifically those of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and the way he performed them, it was clear that he had practiced them. Anthony Bourdain even competed in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu. Later on, he revealed to Nuyo that he trained regularly without missing a day at the Renzo Academy in New York City. He said he was committed to his practice: his abs were the proof of it!

His love for MMA went as far as marrying one of the best MMA fighters Octavia Busia in 2007 who was twenty-two years younger than Anthony. She gave birth to his only child, Ariane. By 2016, the pair announced they were separating in a statement on Page Six:  “Because of professional decisions we both have made, my husband and I have been for years in an unconventional relationship. Nothing has changed. We love each other. We respect the decisions the other has made. And we’ll always consider ourselves a family.”