A particularly bright light was extinguished when chef, travel documentarian and king of the one-liners, Anthony Bourdain, passed away in France in June 2018. Now, three years after his death, July will see the release of Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain, a full length documentary focusing on his life and travels, interviewing those who knew and loved him best.
Anthony Bourdain visited Havana when he was in Cuba © CNN
The exuberant 61-year-old from New York died by suicide while filming his popular CNN series, Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, which usually saw him taking the road less travelled, while introducing viewers to local chefs, exploring different restaurants and sampling unusual dishes.
Anthony Bourdain took viewers on a culinary journey throughout the world © CNN
Anthony’s great friends, Éric Ripert and José Andrés, have declared June 25 to be ‘Bourdain Day,’ as it marks what would have been the late chef’s birthday. We look at his legacy, by visting some of the places he took us to in his intelligent, inimitable and entertaining style.
Anthony arrives to Antartica for Parts Unknown © CNN
“It takes a special breed of hard-ass to not just make it down here, but like it. You got to be tough.” Anthony Bourdain
Anthony’s Antarctic adventure included a helicopter ride over an active volcano, visiting a colony of Adele penguins, and hanging out with the scientists who live in extreme and surreal conditions at the McMurdo Station. In an environment where there is no access to fresh food, fruit and vegetables, he enjoyed the food prepared by camp manager, Rae Spain.
“It’s a place where everybody is sexy, where even the ugly people are hot.” Anthony Bourdain
Travelling to Brazil to visit Bahia, which is known as the “African heart of Brazil,” Anthony visited its legendary food vendors and Salvadoran fishing neighbourhoods. He also enjoyed a barbecue on the beach, and was a fan of the caipirinha, which he described as the “indispensable icon of Brazilian beach culture on the beach.”
“I gotta be honest, I usually try to avoid clean, orderly countries without massive social problems.” Anthony Bourdain
Visiting Copenhagen, Anthony dined on reindeer moss at Noma, the two-star Michelin restaurant run by chef René Redzepi. He also foraged on a beach, and attended the Saturday night staff meeting at Noma, during which chefs submit their culinary ideas.
Anthony Bourdain visited the Packard Plant and examined Detroit’s urban decay © CNN
“Of all the American cities, this is easily one of the most awesome.” Anthony Bourdain
The celebrity chef visited the glory days of the past at the famed Packard Plant in Detroit and examined the current state of the city’s urban decay. He featured firefighters, volunteer park-mowers, café owners and a high-end chef, to highlight the promise of the future in the citizens who are rebuilding their communities.
“I learned a lot about a beautiful country while making this episode, and enjoyed doing it.” Anthony Bourdain
Anthony travelled from the busy streets of Addis Ababa to rural villages to discover Ethiopia. Chef Marcus Samuelsson and his model wife, Maya Haile, acted as his guides, and they drank local coffee, flavored with salt instead of sugar, and ate injera bread and beyaynetu platters.
While in the French Alps. Anthony Bourdain milked a cow © CNN
“God bless the French. They can’t go too long—not even down a mountain—without eating well.” Anthony Bourdain
Anthony Bourdain was joined by his friend Éric Ripert in the French Alps, where he braved the slopes and ordered some of the finest foods the region has to offer, including wine and all types of cheese. Eric offered to pay him in caviar if he could prove that he could successfully milk a cow.
“There’s a lot of delicious food. The place is, as one would expect, gorgeous.” Anthony Bourdain
Anthony visited the Greek island of Naxos, where he drank raki with the local residents and dived around an early 20th century shipwreck. He also travelled to the mountainous village of Apeiranthos, where he attended a traditional celebration in the town square.
“Even crumbling from neglect, Havana is the most beautiful city in all of Latin America or the Caribbean.” Anthony Bourdain
When Anthony visited Cuba, he spent time in its bustling capital city Havana, and also spent hung out in the slower-paced Santiago. His conclusion was that the rum in Havana is the finest in the world and the music is fantastic.
While in Iran, Anthony Bourdain marvelled at the complexity of the food © CNN
“Of all the places, of all the countries, all the years of travelling, it’s here, in Iran, that I am greeted most warmly by total strangers.” Anthony Bourdain
While in Iran, Anthony visited Esfahan and Tehran and enjoyed traditional Persian cooking at two private homes. He marveled at the complexity of its food, and dined on long-simmered stews, egg-stuffed meatballs, turkey-filled haleem porridge and chelow kebab.
“Let’s accept as a premise that this is as close to paradise as it gets.” Anthony Bourdain
A visit to the coastal city of Port Antonio was on the agenda for Anthony in Jamaica. He visited Goldeneye, James Bond novelist Ian Fleming’s estate, and dined with music producer Chris Blackwell. On the culinary front, he enjoyed local dishes such as jerk chicken, curry goat and ackee and saltfish.
“I have, for some time, believed that the chefs doing the most interesting work in America are Korean.” Anthony Bourdain
This was Anthony’s return trip to South Korea and he experienced the nuances of hyper-modern Seoul. He ate a soup made from beondegi (silkworm larva) and favourites like Korean fried chicken and barbecue, and also partook in karaoke and played video games.
Anthony Bourdain enjoyed meat and fish skewers on the banks of a river in Laos © CNN
“Laos is the kind of place that can easily capture your heart and not let you go.” Anthony Bourdain
While in Laos, Bourdain dined on imperial Lao cuisine at the Ban Lao Hotel, and participated in Boun Ok Phansa, a colorful festival that celebrates the end of Buddhist Lent. He also stopped at Phosy-Market for khao soi and khao piak sen, and enjoyed meat and fish skewers on the banks of a river.
“It’s something really special to be thrilled by ruins—hair-standing-up-on-the-back-of-your-neck-excited by a view.” Anthony Bourdain
Aside from admiring the temples and ruins of Myanmar, Anthony paid a visit to a Yangon tea shop. Philippe Lajaunie, the owner of Brasserie Les Halles, where he previously worked as a chef took him a full-moon festival, and they boarded a train for a 600km trip to Bagan that took over 19 hours.
Anthony Bourdain explores the Lower East Side of New York City © CNN
“This is a show about a very special place, a special time, and some very special people.” Anthony Bourdain
Anthony dined with actor Bill Murray in Yonkers during No Reservations. In the series finale of Parts Unknown, titled “Lower East Side,” he took a personal journey through the neighborhood to chat with musicians like Debbie Harry and Chris Stein, as well as New York-based artists and filmmakers.
Anthony Bourdain attempted tegumi, a version of sumo, while in Okinawa. Image: CNN
“Okinawa is where I found out that having a thumb crunched into the cartilage of the ear can really, really hurt.” Anthony Bourdain
The alluring island of Okinawa was explored by Bourdain, who ate delicious yakisoba and found out that he was not “completely horrible” at tegumi, a version of sumo. He found Okinawa to be decidedly laid-back, compared with mainland Japan.
“Whole different flavour spectrum, right? All new. It’s almost like you need a new section of your tongue.” Anthony Bourdain
While in Peru, Anthony and Éric Ripert explored the far reaches of indigenous Andes in search of a rare variety of wild cocoa that is said to be the best in the world. After having what he described as a “great adventure,” they moved from hip, modern Lima back in time into pre-Columbian Peru.
“You will see food porn in this week’s episode so epic, so enticing, so devastating in its richness, flavours, and sheer volume as to endanger the life.” Anthony Bourdain
Anthony sampled local delicacies in Montréal and Québec and explored ice fishing on the St. Lawrence River. While in Québec, he dined at Le Continental and at L’Affaire est Ketchup, a quirky kitchen and restaurant where the chef cooks on two four-burner electric stoves.
Anthony Bourdain visited Russia on the eve of the Olympic Games in Sochi © CNN
“It’s a different Moscow every time I come here.” Anthony Bourdain
In February 2014, on the eve of the Olympic Games in Sochi, Bourdain visited Russia. He visited Moscow’s historic Metropol Hotel, took the Grand Express train to St Petersburg, and dined with former Russian deputy prime minister and opposition politician, Boris Nemtsov. Nemstov was shot dead a year later.
“If you live in New York (as I do) and think you live in the most modern, sophisticated city in the world – or even at its centre – Shanghai can come as a rude surprise.” Anthony Bourdain
Anthony visited Shanghai to explore aspects of Chinese history and culture that still resonate today, amid the flashing lights of the modern city. And in true Bourdain style, he sought out the best street food and gate-crashed a wedding.
“Trinidad prides itself on its multicultural, multi-ethnic makeup. If one judges solely by the food, it is a glorious stew indeed.” Anthony Bourdain
On a trip to the Caribbean, Anthony discovered how the island of Trinidad has turned a history of colonialism into a non-stop celebration of multicultural food, music and good times. Arriving shortly before the famous Carnival, he spoke with locals and attended a steel orchestra rehearsal.
“Welcome to the tiny, overlooked but enchanted land of Uruguay, one of my favourite places to visit.” Anthony Bourdain
While in Uruguay, Anthony travelled around the cities of Montevideo and Santa Lucia and the island of José Ignacio, with chef and restaurateur, Ignacio “Nacho” Mattos. He ate the unofficial national sandwich at Bar Arocena, a chivito made of ham, steak, bacon, cheese, egg, mayonnaise and garnishes.
Barack Obama and Anthony Bourdain enjoy a beer in Vietnam © CNN
“My first love; a place I remain besotted with, fascinated by.” Anthony Bourdain
Bourdain explored his beloved Vietnam’s capital Hanoi by motorbike, and examined how the country is thriving and growing in the 21st century. He dined with former US president, Barack Obama, and described their meal as “low plastic stools, cheap but delicious noodles, cold Hanoi beer.”
“Thank you for showing me this ludicrously amazing, beautiful place.” Anthony Bourdain
While visiting the vast and hardscrabble land of West Texas, Bourdain dined on fresh braised goat, jalapeño-cheese grits and buttermilk biscuits at the Means Ranch Company. He also checked out Marfa, a community where artists, cowboys, and blue collar workers live side by side.
“Zanzibar has a lot of Arab, Persian and Indian influence, which makes the food spicy and quite interesting.” Anthony Bourdain
When he visited Tanzania for an African safari adventure, Anthony went off to check out the island of Zanzibar. He enjoyed the island’s food, which included mandazi to street food, grilled seafood and the famous Zanzibari pizza, saying it was very different to that of mainland Tanzania.
This article was first published in June 2019 and updated June 2021.
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