As one of the world’s most famous chefs and television personalities, Anthony Bourdain lives out much of his life in front of the camera. But there’s still plenty you might not know about everyone’s favorite bad boy chef.
1. HE GREW UP WANTING TO BE A COMIC BOOK ARTIST.
“Until I was in my mid-teens, I wanted to be a comic book artist,” Bourdain told US Weekly. “I can draw pretty well.” Though his career eventually took him down the culinary road instead, in 2012 Bourdain returned to his comic book roots when he co-wrote (with Joel Rose) the graphic novel Get Jiro! for DC Comics. The comic book, which Bourdain described as “set in near-future L.A., where warring clans of chefs with differing ideologies slaughter each other in the streets,” rose to the top spot on the New York Times bestseller list.
2. A CHILDHOOD VACATION TO FRANCE IGNITED HIS LOVE OF FOOD.
In Bourdain’s bestselling book, Kitchen Confidential, he shared that it was during a childhood trip to France that he first fell in love with food. He recalled how their neighbor, an oyster fisherman named Monsieur Saint-Jour, invited his family out on his boat, and invited the family to partake in some fresh oysters. “I, in the proudest moment of my young life, stood up smartly, grinning with defiance, and volunteered to be the first,” Bourdain wrote. “I took it in my hand, tilted the shell back into my mouth as instructed by the by now beaming Monsieur Saint-Jour, and with one bite and a slurp, wolfed it down. It tasted of seawater … of brine and flesh … and somehow … of the future.”
3. HE GOT HIS START AS A DISHWASHER.
In a 2014 episode of Parts Unknown, Bourdain paid a visit to Provincetown, Mass., a tiny town at the tip of Cape Cod, and the place where he decided to pursue a career in cooking. But Bourdain’s first stop wasn’t behind the line; it was standing over a sink full of dirty pots and pans at the legendary Lobster Pot restaurant. “Many of the old places and people now are gone,” Bourdain said, “but the Lobster Pot is still going strong all these years later … My friends worked in the kitchen, starting the tradition. The cooking work was noble toil. At that point, I never intended a career as a chef.”
4. HE MADE HIS TELEVISION DEBUT ON MOLTO MARIO.
Long before he was a television personality in his own right, Bourdain made his small screen debut playing dinner guest to fellow celebrity chef Mario Batali. Bourdain was one of three guests on a 2002 episode of the series … and did not speak the entire time.
5. HE HELPED LAUNCH BRADLEY COOPER’S CAREER.
In 2005, Bourdain’s book Kitchen Confidential was adapted into a television series about “a bad-boy chef” named Jack Bourdain who “runs wild in his New York City eatery.” Bradley Cooper played the chef, who was based on Bourdain. And while the series only lasted a year, it helped introduce Cooper to the masses.
6. HE WAS A WRITER ON TREME.
In 2011 Bourdain added yet another gig to his growing resume when he signed on to become a staff writer for David Simon and Eric Overmyer’s post-Katrina New Orleans-set series, Treme. Bourdain was responsible for the series’ restaurant-centric storylines, which often included cameos from real-life celebrity chefs such as Emeril Lagasse, Eric Ripert, and Tom Colicchio. “I’ve said many times, and believe it absolutely, that The Wire was the single greatest achievement of the television medium,” Bourdain said at the time. “So when suddenly I get a phone call from David Simon inviting me to lunch and asking me if I’d be interested in working on [Treme], it really was like being a lifelong Yankees fan and having Joe DiMaggio call up and say, ‘How about we throw the ball around in the back yard.’ It was really that out of the blue, that seismic of an event for me.”
7. ONE OF THE MOST DISGUSTING THINGS HE HAS EVER EATEN IS A CHICKEN MCNUGGET.
Though he’s indulged in his fair share of none-too-appetizing-sounding delicacies (lightly grilled warthog rectum anyone?), Bourdain claims that the Chicken McNugget is one of his most stomach-churning foods. “Given the choice between reliving the warthog experience and eating a McNugget, I'm surely eating the McNugget,” he told The AV Club. “But at least I knew what the warthog was. Whereas with the McNugget, I think that's still an open question. Scientists are still wondering.”