Anthony Bourdain - from Classic French Chef to High-Risk Culinary Adventurer

by Jane Greer
CulinaryEd Columnist
May 19, 2011

Chef Anthony Bourdain's unorthodox career has taken him from culinary school to a Park Avenue French restaurant to eating warthog rectum in Namibia and a beating cobra heart in Vietnam. This brainy, hard-living television showman and bestselling author is hungry for great food--preferably in surprising places.

From Culinary School to Culinary Globetrotting
NYC native Bourdain fell in love with food when, as a boy visiting France, he experienced what he describes as the "visceral" pleasure of eating a raw oyster right out of the sea. Bourdain later attended culinary school and worked as executive chef at the finest New York restaurants, including four years at renowned Brasserie Les Halles.

He left Les Halles after his bestselling expose, Kitchen Confidential (the first of 10 nonfiction and fiction books), was published in 2001. Bourdain's writing talent, passion for superb food of all types, and disarming verbal bluntness led him to realize his dream career--circling the globe in search of culinary adventure in the Food Network's show, A Cook's Tour (2002).

His current, highly rated global food show, No Reservations, is on the Travel Channel. Bourdain also occasionally appears as a guest on Food Network cooking shows and pops into Bravo TV's Top Chef as a guest judge. His quest is always the same--great food. If he gets to do something gonzo along the way, like bungee jumping or swimming with piranhas, it's gravy.

"Absolute Confidence": the Key Ingredient for Success
A successful restaurant kitchen is a "fantastic mix of order and chaos," Bourdain writes in his Travel Channel biography. To deal with the constant stream of stress and crises--"it's always a crisis in the kitchen"--a chef needs "absolute confidence," Bourdain says in a Harvard Business Review interview. "People have to know that the chef is on top of it. That he's watching at all times. They have to see him watching and thinking."

That's Anthony Bourdain--watching, thinking, and pursuing culinary bliss around the globe.

CBS News
Harvard Business Review
Travel Channel

About the Author

Jane Greer is a freelance writer and editor and is also brave enough to teach English grammar at a community college.
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