How Anthony Bourdain Decides Where to Travel to Next for Parts Unknown

Robin Marchant/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival
Robin Marchant/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival / Robin Marchant/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival

Is there anywhere Anthony Bourdain hasn’t been? Apparently, there are still a few corners of the globe left unexplored by the colorful celebrity chef and TV host, and he recently revealed exactly how he picks the destinations featured in his CNN series Parts Unknown, which is now in its 11th season.

In an interview with Travel + Leisure, Bourdain said he and his team of producers choose from a list of places he has always wanted to go, or places that he wants to revisit and explore in a completely new light.

Aside from that, though, the chosen destinations need to be places that are worth exploring for some reason beyond their culinary merit. In one episode of Parts Unknown, Bourdain dined with President Barack Obama during his historic state visit to Hanoi, Vietnam, in 2016. (It doesn't hurt, though, that Vietnamese food also happens to be one of Bourdain’s favorite cuisines.)

He also finds inspiration in movies, newspaper articles, and chance encounters with people he later decides to collaborate with, according to an interview he did last year with Eater. An example of this was when he decided to do an episode on Seattle based on his conversations with former Screaming Trees lead singer Mark Lanegan, who lives there.

Once Bourdain has some idea of where he wants to go, he holds a brainstorming session with directors to decide how to best present the episode.

“That’s honestly the fun part, when we are sitting around talking about what we want this show to look like and sound like,” Bourdain told Travel + Leisure. “Often I’ll have an idea ahead of time, a general stylistic jumping off point—that always comes from me—but other times I don’t know yet.”

In a moment of spontaneity, Bourdain let cinematographer Christopher Doyle (who is best known for his collaborations with director Wong Kar-wai, including Chungking Express and In the Mood for Love) film most of an upcoming episode about Hong Kong, set to air on June 3, 2018. Bourdain reportedly said he considers the episode a highlight of his career.

Season 11 of Parts Unknown kicked off on Sunday, April 29 with an episode about West Virginia and Appalachian cuisine. Other episodes this season will take viewers to Uruguay, Newfoundland, Armenia, Berlin, Louisiana, and Bhutan.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]