Anthony Bourdain

February 25, 2013

I am Anthony Bourdain. Ask me Anything.

I am an author and traveling enthusiast, debuting a travel docu-series, Parts Unknown, on CNN this spring, EP'ing The Getaway on the Esquire Network & currently co-hosting The Taste on ABC. I voice bastard chef Lance Casteau in this week's Archer (I hung around the Archer parking lot until they gave me some work). Ask me anything.

“Live and Let Dine” premieres this Thursday, February 28th at 10:00 PM ET/PT on FX | Official episode description: Archer, Lana, and Cyril go undercover in celebrity chef Lance Casteau’s (Anthony Bourdain) hellish kitchen.


Edit 1: proof here

Edit 2: thank you and remember to try the veal!

I'm from San Francisco and live in Amsterdam. You hated Amsterdam didn't you? (The food here sucks.)

Amsterdam may not be the first place I think of as a food destination but I liked it fine! #420

Hi Tony,

First of all, thanks a lot for doing this. I’ve been a huge fan of yours for a while now. You inspired me to travel and see the world. So for that, I thank you.

With you new show, Parts Unknown, you travel to places you’ve never been to before (e.g. Libya, Myanmar (Burma)), with some being a little sketchier than others. My question(s) would be: Which country were you most excited to visit and why? Which country were you nervous to visit?

Libya was worrying at times. Shit was happening around the time we were there. But the militia dudes from Misrata who were looking after us took real good care of us and it ended up being a pretty inspiring experience.

Hi Anthony, thank you very much for doing this AMA and I hope your day is going well. Two questions for you, which country do you think has the best overall streetfood, and if you could relive any of your trips from No Reservations, which would it be?

Singapore. Hong Kong, Saigon all have great street food.

I love you Anthony! You and Ottavia are one of my favorite couples ever, and she's helped inspired me in getting into MMA. Also, have you seen the short-lived sitcom that was adapted from your book "Kitchen Confidential"? If so, what did you think about it? Did you have any involvement in the making of the show? I actually thought the show was pretty hilarious. Thanks!

Bradley Cooper as me? It was strange. I thought--this guy's going nowhere. How wrong can you be. Also, I thought he was brilliant in Silver Linings Playbook. So about as wrong as a man can be.

What is your opinion on Mark Miller?

Love Mark Miller. I'm publishing his memoir on my imprint.

What is something you never want to taste again?


Craziest drug trip/story?

I once hallucinated concentric circles of scotty dogs in the sky. Not good.

What's the best concert you've ever attended?

The Specials. At some crappy bar in Long Island back in the eighties.

Tony, you rock. I'm super bummed that No Reservations isn't on Netflix any more, there wasn't much I liked better getting home after a night of drinking, pouring some whiskey, and watching a random episode...

Anyways, I hate to be the one to say it, but, The Taste? Seriously? Ten years ago you would have been mocking the crap out of yourself. How did you decide to take on a project like that?

We still love you, and come out to DC more often. The food scene here is really starting to interesting.

This bus makes many stops. I have no expectation that you will like all of them.

Can you talk about the decision process behind the later seasons of No Reservations evolving beyond the "Let's visit X place to hang out with interesting people and try the food" to examining places like Liberia, Mozambique, and especially Haiti? Having spent a lot of time working/traveling in Latin America, the scene with trying to buy people food in Haiti reminded me of so many experiences when you're confronting not just with your own privilege as an American (and one who can afford to travel abroad), but with how the world is so much more complicated than just being able to help with good intentions. At least that's what my experience has been traveling on delegations to places like Cuba & rural Mexico and being in the Peace Corps.

I go places I'm curious about, feel strongly about==or places that simply sound like they might be fun. Im taking advantage of my situation to have a childhood I once only dreamed about. I like telling stories. I like learning stuff. I like the process of making visual media about places I'm passionate about--or people I care about.

What's the most underrated cuisine?

Mexico> Burma. Peru....

What is the best "meat in tube form" in the world?

The Chicago hot dog.

How did you manage to get Alton Brown to a strip club, and then make him say "Make it rain"?

Edit: Source

My proudest accomplishment. Watching Alton Brown at the Clermont. Im sure the people at Food Net were browning their shorts.

What was the worst hangover you ever had on No Reservations?


What was your favorite episode of No Reservations you did?

I'm proudest of Rome. Because everybody said it was the stupidest idea ever--to make food porn in black and white.

I just wanted to say that you have inspired me to be more aware of the culture surrounding me and to travel as much as possible. I have seen all of No Reservations and read every single one of your books, and you are my favorite writer. I cannot thank you enough to teach me to be a traveler and not a tourist. I have become a much more adventurous eater and have learned to expand my comfort zone when it comes to food. You have had a profound impact on my life.

My question is, if you had to have one last drink in this lifetime, what would it be, where would it be, and who would you share it with?

I'd like to have a beer and a meat pie with Keith Richards.

Welcome! You are honestly a huge inspiration to me, you're insightful yet real. I really look up to you. Traveling abroad, what kind of precautions did you have to take to not become ill from food prepared in less than satisfactory conditions?

What was your worst incident of food poisoning while traveling for No Reservations?

Liberia. I was crawling around leaking in all directions for two days.

Are you and Andrew Zimmern actually friends? You seem incredibly different.

Andrew is actually a great guy. Very smart, very funny, very loyal. We have a lot more in common than you might think.

How did the Archer folks get you on the show?

I made myself an annoyance until they asked me. When I did Aisha Tyler's podcast I made it very clear I was a super fan of Archer. I owe here forever that they wrote me a part.

Considering you and Ted Nugent are from pretty much opposite ends of the spectrum, what was it like to have him on your show? Did y'all joke around off camera. The episodes that he was in on "No Reservations" were probably my favorite. And also, you're my favorite person ever.

I'm proud of the fact that I can be friends with someone with whom I disagree violently about absolutely everything.

Why did you decide to be part of The Taste? It seems like the opposite of what you've always represented in the world of food TV. Now that it's airing, are you happy that you're involved? Any regrets?

I liked the idea that it was the most unlikley thing I could do. That it was scary and probably foolhardy to try. And I'm good friends with Nigella and Ludo so I knew it would be fun. I had a LOT of fun doing it and would do it again in a hot second. It's like being asked to fly a fighter jet. I dont know how, never have before--and its probably a bad idea...But who wouldnt if given the chance?

How awesome is it to help make an Archer episode?

Fun fun fun. Cant wait to see it. My finest hour.

I told my mom she could ask you one thing. of all the things, she wants to know:

What is your favorite ice cream?


Who are some celebrity chefs you do/don't like and why? (besides Sandra Lee) =)

Love Mario, Marco, Michael Symon, and get along well with Emeril--for whom I have a lot of respect. I thought Emeril KILLED it on the scene I wrote for him for TREME

I'm a huge fan of both your work and Archer, can't wait for this week's episode!

What was your favorite part about working on the episode?

Basking in the reflected glory of some of the funniest sharpest writing on TV.

My daughter reports the highlight of her CIA education was having you hand her a "No Reservations" condom out of the trunk of your convertible. Should I be proud or horrified?

They were defective!

Anything you miss most about working in a kitchen daily?

The first beer after a busy shift

What prompted the move to CNN? Was it issues with Travel Channel a la the Cadillac product integration debacle, or simply a chance to do something in a different vain than "No Reservations".

CNN is letting me and my crew make smarter TV in places that Travel never would have allowed. Also--the new regime at Travel were a pretty unpleasant, uninspiring bunch. I saw the writing on the wall.

How do you think that the Taste is playing to the US audience?

I never think about why people may or may not like what I do. I'm surprised and pleased f something I'm involved with does well. So far, so good.

Hey Tony, where would you rank Joe Beef in your list of favorite restaurants? And where would you rank Montreal among other "food cities"?

Just did a show there for CNN. I LOVE Joe Beef, LOVE Montreal. And think Martin Picard is a genius. I'm all about Quebec.

What do you think of Rick Steves?

I wish he'd remember to give me my bong back.

You've said before that you are kind of overprotective of your daughter. If she decides that she wants to get into the culinary industry and become a chef, what would your reaction be?

Horror. Fear. Eventually pride that she'd want to do such a difficult thing.

First off I love No Reservations, sad to see it go. Do you ever feel like a sell out doing shows like the Taste?

I know part of you must hate the game show feel of it... No reservations was just so much about how the food tied cultures together so seeing you on the Taste was really surprising.

"Sell out'? Like Scripps (Food Net owners and owners of Travel) are some kind of an indie label? I sold out the first time I ever agreed to work a brunch shift. The question for me is always--was it fun? Answer. Yes.

Thanks for doing this AMA, Tony. I'm still disappointed that Detroit didn't deserve its own show, and that you were here in Winter, when it looks its worst. There is so much independent foodie goodness going on here, and I think you should come back. Any chance of that happening?

We will do an entire Detroit show for the new CNN series.

You openly admit to being an ex-addict. Plently of ex-addicts can't drink at all, because if they do it tumbles into drugs again. How are you able to still drink and continue to live your lifestyle without slipping?

I am a VERY unusual case. You are correct. Most people who kick heroin and cocaine have to give up on everything. Maybe cause my experiences were so awful in the end, I've never been tempted to relapse.

What would you say your best/worst experience was on drugs?

Combing the shag carpet for paint chips in the hope that they were fallen crack bits. Smoking them anyway.

Why did you steal Guy Fieri's Lamborghini and then frame a teenager?

Edit: As a couple of you pointed out, it was a lambo, my bad.


Did CNN make you do this? Or their agency? Don't give in!

No one makes me do anything. I'm doing this cause I like it. Cause I have the time--and because I genuinely want you to watch the Archer episode this week.

What's the progress on the new season for CNN, when will we start to see episodes?


Massive fan. How much of a change was it to work on Treme? And is the show as much fun to work on as it is to watch?

Treme is an honor to be associated with. I like collaborating with people whose work I respect and admire. Those guys--writers , producers, actors are like gods to me. And I'm a huge fan of everything New Orleans

What does Tony Bourdain make himself for breakfast these days? What do you like cooking for your family?

I love cooking omelettes with my daughter.

Why do you wear so much makeup on the show taste? Are they trying to make you look Jersey orange on purpose?

Yeah. A real change for me--as I've never had to wear it. It's freaky. And the longer you shoot, the more layers they pile on to counteract the sweat. I'm told that on network lighting, that without make-up, everybody looks like Andy Rooney. In my defense? That fucking tan is all mine--and honestly acquired! But point taken. We all look so smooth!

Which was harder to master? The art of cooking or the art of writing? Thanks for doing this, Anthony.

Cooking professionally is hard work. Writing is a privilege and a luxury. Anybody who whines about writers block should be forced to clean squid all day.

Did you enjoy being a judge for the show "The Taste"?

If I didn't enjoy it, I wouldn't do it.

Who are your top 3 favorite mma fighters?

Anderson Silva, Jon Jones, GSP...and Ronda! She's awesome!

How do you like your burgers?

MR. With cheese.

Hi Tony!! What can you tell us about the new show The Getaway?! Thanks for doin this AMA!!

It's interesting people who do interesting things and with interesting things to say, going to interesting places.

SORT of like the Layover--but with people who actually know what the fuck they're talking about.

You seem to really hate Paula Deen, but do you like southern food that is not prepared by her? What is your favorite dish if you do?

The South is where the greatest American traditional food comes from. It's the cradle of American gastronomy. I reject the notion that what Paula was selling is traditional Southern food. Cheeseburger on a Krispie Kreme bun? Nobody's Grandma I ever heard of EVER made that shit.

Did you hit the pig on the first shot or did it take a couple? Where does that episode rank?

One shot. I double tapped for courtesy. And cause that's the way its done in Jersey (I'd heard)

How did you end up with an all beautiful women team in The Taste?

Picked them absolutely blind. I had NO idea.

There has been ZERO interference or suggestions from producers on the show as far as judging or picking teams. . ZERO.

I would be happy to take a polygraph on any suggestions to the contrary.

If CNN supplied you with a time machine, when and where would you take your show?

Paris in the late 20's?

Is there any one chef whose food you love/respect over anyone else's?

Fergus Henderson at London's St. John.

Not really a question, but I'd love to see you collaborate more with Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age. You guys are a great combination of good food and music.

Stay tuned!

Hi Anthony, you're an amazing inspiration to me as a college student. When you were 21, what was your favorite late night guilty snack?

Canned corned beef hash.

Beer, cheese, or monkeys?


Is Bobby Flay really as much of a douche as he appears to be on TV?

Where do you want to travel to that you haven't been to yet?

I have the hardest time poaching eggs. How do restaurants manage to do it so consistently?

Bobby is actually very nice in person.

What's the simplest yet, best tasting dish you've ever had?

Cacio e pepe. Or spaghetti a la bottarga.

What kind of person were you in your twenties? What were your goals and do you think you would have ever imagined you'd be where you are now?

I was a complete asshole. Selfish, larcenous, druggy, loud, stupid, insensitive and someone you would not want to have known. I would have robbed your medecine cabinet had I been invited to your house.

No, he said what were you like in your twenties

snare drum!

Anthony Bourdain, I am a former student at the CIA and I really need this question answered. Its something me and my friends talked about and it would be good to get some conformation. At any point in your CIA attendance did you sign your name on the wall in the service elevator that goes from the meat room to the dinning hall in Farq? We found a signature between the first floor and basement. Want to know if it's really yours.

Edit: For everyone who keeps confusing CIA with Central Intelligence Agency, it really means Culinary Institute of America.


During filming of No Res did any restaurants do anything that either got them cut or caused a major production problem?

Yes. If they publicize in advance that we are coming. It ruins the whole naturalness of the scene and makes it impossible to do a "normal" scene the way we like. We dont want an audience in the background. We want the place to be as close to like it is without us around when we film.

Do you ever find chefs to be resentful of you because they may feel that they have more skill in the profession than you? If they do, do you feel that they need to realize that you are where you are in life because of your personality and writing ability? Also, I just want to say that I'm a huge fan and respect the amount of effort that goes into your work.

Not really, I hope. I've tried to be really upfront about my limited skills in the kitchen--and that I was NEVER, EVER a great chef. I never owned a business. I try and remind people of that. What I do is easy. Running a kitchen--or owning a restaurant is MUCH harder.

Have you ever sparred with your wife?

Yes. BIG mistake. Once she gets the hooks in? You're done. You're lucky to tap out before you black out.

If you could choose 5 people to eat dinner with, alive or dead, who would they be and why?

Ava Gardner. Louise Brooks. Keith Richards. Orson Welles. Kim Philby.

Gotta ask, as a Louisianan, since you've been down here a few times... what was your favorite meal in the state?

Rentier de cochon

Anthony! Love your show, you're a crazy bastard! When you gonna come on over to Israel eh? Our hummus is waiting.

This year.

I know you and Ottavia joke around a lot about her MMA training, but do you ever actually train or feel the desire to if you don't?

Will you follow me on Twitter?

I'm 56. What the fuck would the point be? My bones are like a box of stale breadsticks.

What is the first place that you would recommend a college aged American to travel if they want the ultimate culture shock?


Do you ever find yourself wishing you we're back in the kitchen, sweating over a range, working through a dinner rush?

Hell no! I had 30 years of that. I like farting through hotel sheets!

For the average diner (as opposed to someone like you, on a culinary mission), what do you think is more important in a restaurant: food or service?


Is Mamooty a badass in real life?

Good guy!

Hey Anthony what was the single most horrifying experience you went through while doing "No Reservations"?

Meeting the new Programming dude at Travel.

How was your visit to Montreal? Did you enjoy McMillans spots?

Dave McMillan and Fred Morin are brilliant, bon vivant, scholarly chefs par excellence. AND they look good in Speedos. If you are lucky enough to have them as firends you are very lucky indeed. HIGHLY recommend JOE BEEF and LIVERPOOL HOUSE in Montreal. They are my mentors in Quebec.

No joke, who is your favourite host on The Chew?

Mario and Michael are both old, good friends.

What cars have you owned/currently own, and which of them were/are your favorite(s)?

I just bought my very first car of my whole life. A family car with child seat and plenty of cargo space. I love it like a teenager. It's not douchey.

Apologies if this has been asked already...but how did you feel when the New York Times wrote that scathing review of Guy Fieri's restaurant in Times Square? I know you hate his kind of "chef," but was there a part of you that thought the review was too harsh?

French fries should be hot. Especially for 17 dollars.

What's your go-to brand of boots?

Billy Martin

This interview was transcribed from an "ask me anything" question and answer session with Anthony Bourdain conducted on Reddit on 2013-02-25. The Reddit AMA can be found here.