back to top
Food

14 Times Anthony Bourdain Told Us Exactly What We Needed To Hear

"Travel isn't always pretty. It isn't always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that's okay. The journey changes you."

Posted on
Jenny Chang/BuzzFeed

Anthony Bourdain, prolific chef, TV host, author, and all-around force of good in the food world, was found dead early Friday morning, having reportedly killed himself in France while filming the latest season of Parts Unknown.

While Bourdain was widely known for his role as the host of his CNN show, his work — including the ground-breaking book Kitchen Confidential — often focused on the larger stories surrounding food, travel, and cultural connection. As we remember him, here are some of his best quotes.

1. On the life-changing power of travel:

"Travel isn't always pretty. It isn't always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that's okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind."

2. On what food is really about:

CNN

“If you’re commenting on how crunchy-delicious your salad is while your host is missing two limbs, you might want to ask them how that happened, and often you will get a story that’s far more interesting than what’s on your plate.

3. On the #MeToo movement and picking a side:

"To stay silent has a real cost. You will be called to account for that. You will be asked what you did when you saw this. Whether you have a good heart or not, I think the reality of the situation in this rapidly changing field is that people will be forced to do the right thing."

"In these current circumstances, one must pick a side. I stand unhesitatingly and unwaveringly with the women. Not out of virtue, or integrity, or high moral outrage — as much as I’d like to say so — but because late in life, I met one extraordinary woman with a particularly awful story to tell, who introduced me to other extraordinary women with equally awful stories. I am grateful to them for their courage, and inspired by them. That doesn’t make me any more enlightened than any other man who has begun listening and paying attention. It does makes me, I hope, slightly less stupid."

Advertisement

4. On marriage equality for all:

“The people I admire — whoever they are, wherever they are — are people who are proud, who do things with love [and] feel a sense of responsibility to others,” [...] “The desire to love and be responsible to another person, to commit to another human being — these are virtues.”

5. On understanding the other side, even if you might not agree with them:

CNN

"We do ourselves a real disservice — those of us on the left, those of us who see Trump as an anathema — to look at everybody who voted for him as an ideologue, a true believer, as a hick or a rube or somehow beneath us. [...] I want people of my political stripe to rethink, or accept the possibility that there’s another way of thinking."

6. On the magic and simple pleasures of homecooked food:

"On my day off, I rarely want to eat restaurant food unless I’m looking for new ideas or recipes to steal. What I want to eat is home cooking, somebody’s-anybody’s-mother’s or grandmother’s food. A simple pasta pomodoro made with love, a clumsily thrown-together tuna casserole, roast beef with Yorkshire pudding, all of this is pure exotica to me, even when I’ve been neck-deep all day in filet mignon and herb-infused oils and all the bits of business we do to distinguish restaurant food from what you get at home. My mother-in-law would always apologize before serving dinner when I was in attendance, saying, ‘This must seem pretty ordinary for a chef...’ She had no idea how magical, how reassuring, how pleasurable her simple meat loaf was for me, what a delight even lumpy mashed potatoes were — being, as they were, blessedly devoid of truffles or truffle oil."

7. On the importance of immigrants in the food industry and society:

CNN

"As any chef will tell you, our entire service economy — the restaurant business as we know it — in most American cities, would collapse overnight without Mexican workers. Some, of course, like to claim that Mexicans are “stealing American jobs”. But in two decades as a chef and employer, I never had ONE American kid walk in my door and apply for a dishwashing job, a porter’s position — or even a job as prep cook. Mexicans do much of the work in this country that Americans, probably, simply won’t do."

Advertisement

9. On the only knife any chef really needs:

Instagram: @anthonybourdainI

“You need, for God’s sake, a decent chef's knife [...] I wish sometimes I could go through the kitchens of amateur cooks everywhere just throwing knives out from their drawers — all those medium-size ‘utility’ knives, those useless serrated things you see advertised on TV, all that hard-to-sharpen stainless-steel garbage, those ineptly designed slicers. Not one of the damn things could cut a tomato. Please believe me, here’s all you will ever need in the knife department: ONE good chef’s knife, as large as is comfortable for your hand.”

10. On the power of food:

“Though I’ve spent half my life watching people, guiding them, trying to anticipate their moods, motivations and actions, running from them, manipulating and being manipulated by them, they remain a mystery to me. People confuse me. Food doesn’t. [...] I just know what I see. And I understand it. It makes perfect sense."

11. On addiction:

Matthew Eisman / Getty Images

"I’m extremely skeptical of the “language of addiction.” I never saw heroin or cocaine as “my illness.” I saw them as some very bad choices that I walked knowingly into. I fucked myself — and, eventually, had to work hard to get myself un-fucked. And I’m not going to tell you here how to live your life. I’m just saying, I guess, that I got very lucky. And luck is not a business model."

Advertisement

14. On the journey:

I’ll be right here. Until they drag me off the line. I’m not going anywhere. I hope. It’s been an adventure. We took some casualties over the years. Things got broken. Things got lost. But I wouldn’t have missed it for the world."

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Other international suicide helplines can be found at befrienders.org.