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Anthony Bourdain
Bourdain at the 73rd Annual Peabody Awards in 2014
Born Anthony Michael Bourdain
(1956-06-25)June 25, 1956
New York City, U.S.
Died June 8, 2018(2018-06-08) (aged 61)
Kaysersberg-Vignoble, France
Cooking style French, eclectic
  • Nancy Putkoski
    (m. 1985; div. 2005)
  • Ottavia Busia
    (m. 2007; sep. 2016)
Partner(s) Asia Argento (2016–2018)

Anthony Michael Bourdain (/bɔːrˈdn/; June 25, 1956 – June 8, 2018) was an American celebrity chef, author, and travel documentarian who starred in programs focusing on the exploration of international culture, cuisine, and the human condition. Bourdain was a 1978 graduate of The Culinary Institute of America and a veteran of many professional kitchens during his career, which included several years spent as an executive chef at Brasserie Les Halles in Manhattan. He first became known for his bestselling book Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly (2000).

Bourdain's first food and world-travel television show A Cook's Tour ran for 35 episodes on the Food Network in 2002 and 2003. In 2005, he began hosting the Travel Channel's culinary and cultural adventure programs Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations (2005–2012) and The Layover (2011–2013). In 2013, he began a three-season run as a judge on The Taste and consequently switched his travelogue programming to CNN to host Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. Although best known for his culinary writings and television presentations, along with several books on food and cooking and travel adventures, Bourdain also wrote both fiction and historical nonfiction.

Early life

Anthony Michael Bourdain was born in Manhattan on June 25, 1956. His mother was Gladys (née Sacksman), and his father was Pierre Bourdain (1929–1987). His younger brother, Christopher, was born a few years later. Anthony grew up living with both of his parents and described his childhood in one of his books: "I did not want for love or attention. My parents loved me. Neither of them drank to excess. Nobody beat me. God was never mentioned so I was annoyed by neither church nor any notion of sin or damnation." His father was Catholic and his mother Jewish. Bourdain stated that, although he was considered Jewish by halacha's definition, "I've never been in a synagogue. I don't believe in a higher power. But that doesn't make me any less Jewish I don't think." His family was not religious either. At the time of Bourdain's birth, Pierre was a salesman at a New York City camera store, as well as a floor manager at a record store. He later became an executive for Columbia Records, and Gladys was a staff editor at The New York Times.

Bourdain's paternal grandparents were French (his great grandfather Aurélien Bourdain was born in Brazil to French parents); his paternal grandfather Pierre Michel Bourdain (1905- 1932) emigrated from Arcachon to New York following World War I. Bourdain's father spent summers in France as a boy and grew up speaking French. Bourdain spent most of his childhood in Leonia, New Jersey. He felt jealous of the lack of parental supervision of his classmates and the freedom they had in their homes. In his youth, Bourdain was a member of the Boy Scouts of America.

Culinary training and career

Bourdain's love of food was kindled in his youth while on a family vacation in France when he tried his first oyster from a fisherman's boat. He graduated from the Dwight-Englewood School—an independent coeducational college-preparatory day school in Englewood, New Jersey—in 1973, then enrolled at Vassar College but dropped out after two years. He worked at seafood restaurants in Provincetown, Massachusetts, including the Lobster Pot (restaurant), while attending Vassar, which inspired his decision to pursue cooking as a career.

Bourdain attended The Culinary Institute of America, graduating in 1978. From there he went on to run various restaurant kitchens in New York City, including the Supper Club, One Fifth Avenue and Sullivan's.

In 1998, Bourdain became an executive chef at Brasserie Les Halles. Based in Manhattan, at the time the brand had additional restaurants in Miami, Washington, D.C. and Tokyo. Bourdain remained an executive chef there for many years and even when no longer formally employed at Les Halles, he maintained a relationship with the restaurant, which described him in January 2014 as their "chef at large". Les Halles closed in 2017 after filing for bankruptcy.

Media career


In the mid-1980s, Bourdain began submitting unsolicited work for publication to Between C & D, a literary magazine of the Lower East Side. In 1985, Bourdain signed up for a writing workshop with Gordon Lish. In 1990, Bourdain received a small book advance from Random House, after meeting a Random House editor.

His first book, a culinary mystery called Bone in the Throat, was published in 1995. He paid for his own book tour, but he did not find success. His second mystery book, Gone Bamboo, also performed poorly in sales.

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly

Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, a 2000 New York Times bestseller, was an expansion of his 1999 New Yorker article "Don't Eat Before Reading This".

Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook

In 2010, he published Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook, a memoir and follow-up to the book Kitchen Confidential.

A Cook's Tour

He wrote two more bestselling nonfiction books: A Cook's Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines (2001), an account of his food and travel exploits around the world, written in conjunction with his first television series of the same title.

The Nasty Bits

In 2006, Bourdain published The Nasty Bits, a collection of 37 humorous anecdotes and essays, many of them centered around food, and organized into sections named for each of the five traditional flavors, followed by a 30-page fiction piece ("A Chef's Christmas").

Typhoid Mary: An Urban Historical

Bourdain published a hypothetical historical investigation, Typhoid Mary: An Urban Historical, about Mary Mallon, an Irish-born cook believed to have infected 53 people with typhoid fever between 1907 and 1938.

No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach

In 2007, Bourdain published No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach, covering the experiences of filming and photographs of the three first seasons of the show and his crew at work while filming the series.

His articles and essays appeared in many publications, including in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Times of the Los Angeles Times, The Observer, Gourmet, and Esquire. Scotland on Sunday, The Face, Food Arts, Limb by Limb, BlackBook, The Independent, Best Life, the Financial Times, and Town & Country. His blog for the third season of Top Chef was nominated for a Webby Award for Best Blog (in the Cultural/Personal category) in 2008.

In 2012, Bourdain co-wrote the graphic novel Get Jiro! with Joel Rose, with art by Langdon Foss.

In 2015, Bourdain joined the travel, food, and politics publication Roads & Kingdoms, as the site's sole investor and editor-at-large. Over the next several years, Bourdain contributed to the site and edited the Dispatched By Bourdain series. Bourdain and Roads & Kingdoms also partnered on the digital series Explore Parts Unknown, which launched in 2017 and won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Short Form Nonfiction or Reality Series in 2018.


Bourdain hosted many food and travel series, including his first show, A Cook's Tour (2002 to 2003). He worked for The Travel Channel from 2005 to 2013. He also worked for CNN from 2013 to 2018.

In July 2005, he premiered a new television series, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, on the Travel Channel. As a further result of the immense popularity of Kitchen Confidential, the Fox sitcom Kitchen Confidential aired in 2005, in which the character Jack Bourdain is based loosely on Anthony Bourdain's biography and persona.

In July 2006, he and his crew were in Beirut filming an episode of No Reservations when the Israel-Lebanon conflict broke out unexpectedly after the crew had filmed only a few hours of footage. His producers compiled behind-the-scenes footage of him and his production staff, including not only their initial attempts to film the episode, but also their firsthand encounters with Hezbollah supporters, their days of waiting for news with other expatriates in a Beirut hotel, and their eventual escape aided by a fixer (unseen in the footage), whom Bourdain dubbed Mr. Wolf after Harvey Keitel's character in Pulp Fiction. Bourdain and his crew were finally evacuated with other American citizens, on the morning of July 20, by the United States Marine Corps. The Beirut No Reservations episode, which aired on August 21, 2006, was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2007.

In July 2011, the Travel Channel announced adding a second one-hour, 10-episode Bourdain show to be titled The Layover, which premiered November 21, 2011. Each episode featured an exploration of a city that can be undertaken within an air travel layover of 24 to 48 hours. The series ran for 20 episodes, through February 2013. Bourdain executive produced a similar show hosted by celebrities called The Getaway, which lasted two seasons on Esquire Network.

Anthony Bourdain (14313001343)
Bourdain with his Peabody Award in 2014

In May 2012, Bourdain announced that he was leaving the Travel Channel. He went on to host Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown for CNN. The program focused on other cuisines, cultures and politics and premiered on April 14, 2013.

President Barack Obama was featured on the program in an episode filmed in Vietnam that aired in September 2016; the two talked over a beer and bun cha at a small restaurant in Hanoi. The show was filmed and is set in places as diverse as Libya, Tokyo, the Punjab region, Jamaica, Turkey, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Far West Texas and Armenia.

Between 2012 and 2017, he served as narrator and executive producer for several episodes of the award-winning PBS series The Mind of a Chef; it aired on the last months of each year. The series moved from PBS to Facebook Watch in 2017.


In September 2011, Ecco Press announced that Bourdain would have his own publishing line, Anthony Bourdain Books, which included acquiring between three and five titles per year that "reflect his remarkably eclectic tastes". The first books that the imprint published, released in 2013, include L.A. Son: My Life, My City, My Food by Roy Choi, Tien Nguyen, and Natasha Phan, Prophets of Smoked Meat by Daniel Vaughn, and Pain Don't Hurt by Mark Miller. Bourdain also announced plans to publish a book by Marilyn Hagerty.

In describing the line, he said, "This will be a line of books for people with strong voices who are good at something—who speak with authority. Discern nothing from this initial list—other than a general affection for people who cook food and like food. The ability to kick people in the head is just as compelling to us—as long as that's coupled with an ability to vividly describe the experience. We are just as intent on crossing genres as we are enthusiastic about our first three authors. It only gets weirder from here."

Shortly after Bourdain's death, HarperCollins announced that the publishing line would be shut down after the remaining works under contract were published.


Bourdain appeared as himself in the 2015 film The Big Short, in which he used seafood stew as an analogy for a collateralized debt obligation. He also produced and starred in Wasted! The Story of Food Waste.

Personal life

Anthony Bourdain on WNYC-2011-24-02
Bourdain in 2007

In the 1970s, while attending high school at Dwight-Englewood School, Bourdain dated Nancy Putkoski. She was a year above him, and Bourdain graduated one year early in order to follow Putkoski to Vassar College since they had just started admitting men. He studied there between the ages of 17 and 19. He then attended the Culinary Institute of America, a 15-minute drive from Vassar. The couple married in 1985, and remained together for two decades, divorcing in 2005.

On April 20, 2007, he married Ottavia Busia, who later became a mixed martial artist. The couple's daughter, Ariane, was born in 2007. Bourdain said having to be away from his family for 250 days a year working on his television shows put strain on the relationship. Busia appeared in several episodes of No Reservations, notably the ones in Tuscany, Rome, Rio de Janeiro, Naples, and her birthplace of Sardinia. The couple separated in 2016.

Bourdain practiced the martial art Brazilian jiu-jitsu, earning a blue belt in August 2015. He won gold at the IBJJF New York Spring International Open Championship in 2016, in the Middleweight Master 5 (age 51 and older) division.


Kaysersberg Altstadt 02
Hotel Chambard in Kaysersberg, Alsace, France (pictured in 2015), where Bourdain was found dead

Bourdain was found dead in his room at Le Chambard hotel in Kaysersberg near Colmar on June 8, 2018. His body was cremated in France on June 13, 2018, and his ashes were returned to the United States two days later.


Anthony Bourdain Tribute
Memorial at Brasserie Les Halles

In the days following Bourdain's death, fans paid tribute to him outside his now-closed former place of employment, Brasserie Les Halles. Cooks and restaurant owners gathered together and held tribute dinners and memorials.

In August 2018, CNN announced a final, posthumous season of Parts Unknown, completing its remaining episodes using narration and additional interviews from featured guests, and two retrospective episodes paying tribute to the series and Bourdain's legacy.

In June 2019, Éric Ripert and José Andrés announced the first Bourdain Day as a tribute to Bourdain. In the same month, the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) established a scholarship in Bourdain's honor.

A collection of Bourdain's personal items were sold at auction in October 2019, raising $1.8 million, part of which is to support the Anthony Bourdain Legacy Scholarship at his alma mater, the Culinary Institute of America. The most expensive item sold was his custom Bob Kramer Steel and Meteorite Chef's knife, selling at a record $231,250.

In June 2021, a documentary film directed by Morgan Neville and produced by CNN Films and HBO Max titled Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain, had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. It was released by Focus Features on July 16, 2021.

In October 2022, Down and Out in Paradise: The Life of Anthony Bourdain, an unauthorized biography of Bourdain, was published.

Interests and advocacy

Bourdain advocated for communicating the value of traditional or peasant foods, including all of the varietal bits and unused animal parts not usually eaten by affluent, 21st-century Americans. He also praised the quality of freshly prepared street food in other countries—especially developing countries—compared to fast-food chains in the U.S.

He championed industrious Spanish-speaking immigrants—from Mexico, Ecuador, and other Central and South American countries—who are cooks and chefs in many United States restaurants, including upscale establishments, regardless of cuisine. He considered them talented chefs and invaluable cooks, underpaid and unrecognized even though they have become the backbone of the U.S. restaurant industry.

Awards and nominations

  • Bourdain was named Food Writer of the Year in 2001 by Bon Appétit magazine for Kitchen Confidential.
  • A Cook's Tour: In Search of the Perfect Meal was named Food Book of the Year in 2002 by the British Guild of Food Writers.
  • The Beirut episode of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, which documented the experiences of Bourdain and his crew during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict, was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Informational Programming in 2007.
  • Bourdain's blog for the reality competition show Top Chef was nominated for a Webby Award for best Blog – Culture/Personal in 2008.
  • In 2008, Bourdain was inducted into the James Beard Foundation's Who's Who of Food and Beverage in America.
  • In 2009 and 2011, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations won a Creative Arts Emmy Award for Outstanding Cinematography for Nonfiction Programming.
  • In 2010, Bourdain was nominated for a Creative Arts Emmy for Outstanding Writing for Nonfiction Programming.
  • In 2012, Bourdain was awarded an Honorary Clio Award, which is given to individuals who are changing the world by encouraging people to think differently.
  • In 2012, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations won the Critics' Choice Best Reality Series award.
  • In 2013, 2014 and 2015, Bourdain was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Host for a Reality or Reality-Competition Program for The Taste.
  • Each year from 2013 to 2016 & 2018, Bourdain won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Informational Series or Special for Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.
  • In 2014, the 2013 season of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown won a Peabody Award, which was accepted by Bourdain.
  • In December 2017, the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) conferred the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters in Culinary Arts honoris causa to Bourdain, who graduated from the CIA with an associate degree in 1978.
  • Bourdain posthumously won a 2018 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Short Form Nonfiction or Reality Series in partnership with Roads & Kingdoms.



  • Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly. New York: Bloomsbury. 2000.
  • A Cook's Tour: In Search of the Perfect Meal. New York: Bloomsbury. 2001.
  • Typhoid Mary: An Urban Historical. New York: Bloomsbury. 2001.
  • Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles cookbook. Bloomsbury. 2004.
  • The Nasty Bits: Collected Varietal Cuts, Usable Trim, Scraps, and Bones. New York: Bloomsbury. 2006.
  • No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach. New York: Bloomsbury. 2007.
  • Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook. Ecco/HarperCollins. 2010.
  • Appetites: A Cookbook. Ecco Press. 2016.
  • World Travel: An Irreverent Guide. Ecco. 2021.
  • "Hell's kitchen : getting through the day – and night – with a New York chef". The New Yorker 97 (27): 23–25. September 6, 2021.


  • — (1995). Bone in the Throat. New York: Villard Books. ISBN 978-0-679-43552-5.
  • — (1997). Gone Bamboo. New York: Villard Books. ISBN 978-0-679-44880-8.
  • — (2001). Bobby Gold. Edinburgh: Canongate Crime. ISBN 978-1-84195-145-4.
  • —; with Joel Rose and Langdon Foss (2012). Get Jiro!. DC Comics. ISBN 9781401228279.
  • —; with Joel Rose and Alé Garza (2015). Get Jiro: Blood and Sushi. DC Comics. ISBN 978-1401252267.
  • —; with Joel Rose; Alberto Ponticelli; Irene Koh; and Paul Pope (2018). Hungry Ghosts. Berger Books. ISBN 978-1506706696.

See also

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