By now, Anthony Bourdain has indeed become a legend. His rise from the professional kitchens of New York City to becoming a household name is indeed the truest of success stories. But all that success didn’t come from thin air. The man worked incredibly hard on his rise, taking rejection along with all the other turmoil of a fast life on the professional cooking line.
After many years of cooking at some of New York’s hottest spots like The Rainbow Room and of course Brasserie Les Halles, Anthony skyrocketed to fame with the publication of his first hit book: Kitchen Confidential, in which he dished on the business, the scene and the quality of food in a fantastic book that got rave reviews; many describing it as horrific but honest and readers were finally happy to have a voice of authority telling them the truth about the food industry and not just another wannabe TV chef trying to gain favor.
For years Bourdain wrote, both fiction and non-fiction and Kitchen Confidential would prove to be the vehicle that would transcend him to his next station in life and that was that of a television host and worldwide traveler on such shows as No Reservations, The Layover and of course, Parts Unknown, a show he was still working on until his passing.
Join us in this special look at the foods he loved, but moreover, the foods he detested and wouldn’t touch with the old proverbial ten foot pole. You’ll be surprised at what made the list.
29 LOVED: AUTHENTIC THAI CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP
Perhaps nothing thrilled Anthony Bourdain more than sitting among locals, feeling the environment, truly, as he would sit to have a meal. As could have been seen in many episodes of his countless shows, Anthony marveled at the culture behind the food as much as he did at the preparation and delivery of the countless recipes he tasted over the years as he traveled the world over.
When traveling to beautiful Bangkok, Thailand, perhaps nothing pleased the scholar and culinarian more than a very good, authentic, steaming bowl of Thai soup, marveling at the sweet and subtle taste it offered, blending sweet spice with citrus, all the while providing that epic chicken/noodle taste.
28 LOVED: SUSHI
Not all of us are privileged enough to walk into an authentic Japanese restaurant and eat the freshest Sushi available (and not just any Japanese restaurant, but the restaurant where Iron Chef Morimoto acts as Sushi Chef), being able to watch as the chef prepares some of the most beautiful dishes of Sushi known to one and all.
Anthony knew this and as he showed us the wonders that were the many dishes he got to sample, he didn't do so with an air of privilege, but of a big brother who escorted us through his many culinary adventures and as we watched, we almost tasted the food with him.
Sushi, in general, was one of his most favorite dishes, and even when he was Stateside.
27 WOULDN'T TOUCH: AIRLINE FOOD
To say that Anthony Bourdain traveled more than anybody would be a terrible understatement. In fact, Anthony can be quoted as saying he was blessed to have lived two lives. One as a chef and sedentary citizen who traveled very little, to one that was able to suddenly travel the world many times over.
Indeed, and as such a traveler, he was always on planes, obviously. And being such a connoisseur of the airplane experience, the man had a simple rule about riding in them:
Don't touch plane food! Ever!
According to cheatsheet.com, he stated that if he was famished, the only thing he'd dare touch would be cheese and wine.
26 WOULDN'T TOUCH: CHICKEN NUGGETS
Well, despite the fact that most of the world is indeed "loving it," --this writer included, Anthony was not very enthused about McDonald's Restaurants in general, but particularly, he absolutely detested the Chicken Nuggets sold at the many establishments strewn about the world.
Granted there is something "unnatural" about the food at McDonald's, but at the same time, their nuggets seem to take the cake when it comes to the whole "What the heck did I just eat?" department.
Apparently, Anthony once said that the worst thing he ever ate would have to be the chicken nugget at McDonald's.
25 LOVED: NEW YORK CITY HOT DOGS
Being a New Yorker himself, there was nothing at all like street food. Good old, authentic street food.
No matter how far away you travel and how many worldly dishes you sample, even the ones prepared by some of the most skilled chefs, there's just something about the food you grew up with when you were a kid, and the same went for Anthony Bourdain.
For Anthony, there was nothing like eating a hot dog from a New York vendor right out there on the street, and yeah, even a dirty water hot dog, as they're called.
24 LOVED: CHARCUTERIE
Perhaps nothing makes a chef, any chef happier than a simple meal. We covered this concept with Anthony's love of Asian Stir fry, particularly Thai Stir fry, but if we can go a tad deeper, we'll further thrust the point home.
Simple food is easy to prepare. It's that simple. And the simpler it is to prepare, the more it appeals to the men and women that have been cooking for long hours and shifts that can number close to 15 to 17 hours a day.
For Anthony, nothing was better than the simplicities of charcuterie, fresh bread, cheese and cured meats served with fresh fruit and perhaps a little Pastis De Marseilles. His love for this food really came through in the episode of Parts Unknown in which he and close friend Eric Ripert travel to Marseilles, France.
23 LOVED: STIR FRY
Who doesn't love a good stir fry?
Having been a good chef himself, he was very experienced with going home at the end of a shift and being so exhausted that he had little time to cook anything at all. But at the same time, he'd want some good food, and when he couldn't stop at a local place after work, he knew the importance of a quick meal.
Stir fry is indeed quite quick and if you throw in some cooked noodles or cooked rice, they are done before you can say: "Pass the sake."
According to thedailybeast.com, when in Thailand with chef and writer, Andy Ricker, he enjoyed a particular brand of stir fry that goes particularly well after an evening of throwing back a few cold ones.
22 WOULDN'T TOUCH: ANYTHING GLUTEN FREE
This too was another lifestyle or diet that offended him to his very core. And not because of food options, or even for the sufferers of the celiac disease in which gluten is forbidden, but rather for those who would turn to the diet for reasons of losing weight.
This bothered him greatly. According to cheatsheet.com, nothing disturbed him more than a patron who gave the chef in the back a hard time because the pasta he /she was served wasn't gluten free, claiming to have celiac disease, but never once having gotten a doctor's opinion.
21 LOVED: NIGERIAN Food
When we travel, there are foods we can't wait to try. Foods and cuisines we dreamed of eating all our lives. We'd dream of what these foods tasted like and when we set sail for these destinations of our dreams we couldn't wait until we were sitting at these foreign tables.
Anthony was the one who traveled to the other destinations that no one really spent their time dreaming of, like Lagos, Nigeria, and he went to sample the food that no one really took the time to think about or be curious about.
If there is indeed an interest in foreign food, we need to seriously think of how much of a responsibility Anthony Bourdain has for spreading that interest. After all, the work he did in his 18 years or so of fame played a large part in that interest.
20 LOVED: SHELLFISH
If the smile on his handsome face doesn't tell you just how much he loved shellfish, then I don't know what to tell you, friends.
He loved all food, in general, with the exception of a few items as we've been delving into here, but shellfish was indeed an item he loved immensely.
He especially loved traveling to the Southern United States, particularly Texas many times and he enjoyed the likes of Crawfish, Clam Bakes, and all the goodness those recipes came with. For Anthony, there was nothing like eating some boiled shellfish, potatoes and corn outdoors with friends and loved ones, washing it all down with a cold ale.
19 WOULDN'T TOUCH: EXTRA HOT CHICKEN
No one can say that Anthony Bourdain wasn't an adventurous eater. No way! If you've watched his multitude of television shows or even read any of his essays and articles, you will know full well that Anthony was hard-pressed to try anything at least once--at least in the food department that is.
But as for another food that Anthony has decided to stay clear from, extra hot chicken wings.
Why? Well, according to thecheatsheet.com, why bother? Why does chicken need to be that spicy and lead to such discomforts?
18 LOVED: AUTHENTIC FRENCH CUISINE
Is it any wonder really? Anthony's masters, or thesis statement was written on Classic French Cuisine. Of course students aren't required to write a thesis in culinary school, but we were going for the metaphor, here.
All kidding aside, he was a master at French cuisine, it was his principle course of study and to say he was indeed an expert on the recipes would be putting it mildly.
He cooked a plethora of dishes at Les Halles that mirrored a brasserie in France and the authenticity of his dishes was bar none while he was heading the line at Les Halles in New York City.
17 LOVED: ST-VIATEUR BAGELS / MONTREAL, QUEBEC
Anthony had been in Montreal many, many times and incidentally it wasn't only for episodes of his many shows. He loved the city and for many reasons, and not just the food. Okay, the food played a big part, like say Wilensky's fried bologna sandwiches, the incredibly heavy morsels of pork at Au Pied Du Cochon, and the smoked meat at Schwartz's and of course the bagels at St-Viateur Bagel.
But it was his friends that he enjoyed being with, the people that he enjoyed eating and drinking with, talking about the food, their loves their problems, and yes, existentialism. His more famous friends in the city, the chef/owners of Joe Beef, a particularly epic restaurant in the city, David McMillan and Frédéric Morin.
16 WOULDN'T TOUCH: TRUFFLE OIL
Here's another go-to of many chefs around the world. Especially chefs that are trying desperately to win some points with foodies of a rather particularly fancy crowd.
Cooking with truffles is in fact divine, especially rich meats and risotto.
No doubt that the rich taste will bring the dish being served that much more to that level of excellence, but according to many, including Anthony, Truffle Oil is that unnatural thing that many chefs are willing to drizzle over their food, but all it adds is a level of pretension and not good taste.
We'd have to agree with his wise words.
15 WOULDN'T TOUCH: RANCH DRESSING
We promised that we'd fill you in on why Anthony liked to push the envelope with food, being rather courageous and fearless when it came to sampling food, and as promised, here it is.
According to his own book, Kitchen Confidential, Anthony and his brother went on a trip to France with their parents when Anthony was but a small boy. He and his brother were in fact bored and hated the food. Well seeing that they didn't appreciate the food, their parents forced them to wait in the car one night while going into a restaurant and Anthony claimed it was the worst experience of his life.
He made a vow to try everything and enjoy it the rest of the trip, and that's exactly what he did.
Looks like the conviction to prove his parents wrong stuck, but he still has many items that he won't touch, no matter how courageous he is, Ranch dressing being one.
14 WOULDN'T TOUCH: BRUNCH FOODS IN GENERAL
You can see it now. Maybe you're in Vegas and the line down the escalator is still pretty long. You can't imagine what the fuss is all about and then you look down at your watch and realize that it's about 11AM. Too late for breakfast and too early for lunch, but just in time for, you guessed it, brunch!
Mounds and mounds of fried potatoes, sausages, bacon, croissants and so many variations of muffins, your head will spin.
Many love brunch, especially in the all you can eat capacity, but Anthony detested the combination of food in general and the concept of brunch.
13 WOULDN'T TOUCH: BEEF WELL DONE
All chefs are trained how to tell if a piece of meat is well done or not. Anthony too, especially since he went to the Culinary Institute of America, or the CIA, as it's referred to in most culinary circles. He had one of the best educations as far as the food industry are concerned, but perhaps he learned just as much if not more about food on the line.
The typical grey color beef has on the interior is the perfect way to tell if a piece of beef is well done, and of course if you can't slice a steak open to check, which is more than understandable at a restaurant, there are ways to check depending on firmness.
Anthony knew very well how to tell, and any technique he used to deduce the doneness of his steak, led him always to reject a piece of steak that looked grey on the interior and was hard enough to break a window if thrown.
12 WOULDN'T TOUCH: CLUB SANDWICHES
Everybody loves a club sandwich, right? They're filling, they are tasty and they contain bacon of all things, and well, doesn't everything taste better with bacon?
Well, according to Anthony, club sandwiches weren't the greatest thing since sliced bread.
In fact, they revolted him, and for one very good reason, the third slice of bread.
Pretty funny reason, but according to cheatsheet.com, Anthony claimed that he felt that third slice so unnecessary, as the sandwich would have been just fine without the extra slice.
Pretty weird for such a bar-hopper like him, as the club sandwich is on every bar menu around, but hey, who are we to argue?
11 WOULDN'T TOUCH: HOLLANDAISE SAUCE
You know, some of the reasons why Anthony detested a certain type of food may seem awkward to you, but he sure had his reasons, and he sure didn't mind explaining them.
But you ask: why should we have listened to him? Fair question, but only if you've been living under a rock since 2000, when his novel, Kitchen Confidential was released. That book, if nothing else, proved what an authority he was in the art of cuisine.
As far as Hollandaise sauce is concerned, his expertise said that Hollandaise was a hotbed of bacteria and why anyone would put it on their food was beyond him.
10 WOULDN'T TOUCH: SWORDFISH
Furthermore, a chef knows the ins and outs of all food, produce and how food is shipped and treated. That being said, a chef will know the inner workings of the food industry beyond the professional kitchen, like at the farm, or even in the sea. Essentially, chefs are paid to know about these things, or at least they should be.
Thankfully, Anthony always was, and we remember him fondly for it, as he always thought of his patrons, his readers and his viewers.
As far as Swordfish is concerned, he always warned from eating it, despite its popularity in the fine dining milieu, because the fish is born with a bacteria, an inherent bacteria that all species of swordfish are born with; a parasite if you will, and whether you get sick or not depends on the skill of the chef when he's filleting the fish. If he misses just a bit of the parasite, you'll be spending a very uncomfortable night in the ER.
9 WOULDN'T TOUCH: FRITO PIE
Anthony had actually been to Mexico many times. Interestingly enough, he went to Mexico with his former sous-chef at Les Halles, the last restaurant he worked at as head chef, and Carlos, took him to all the best spots in Mexico, showing Anthony the best that Mexico had to offer.
It is probably this pallet, this refined Mexican palate that kept Anthony from appreciating any "fake" Mexican food like the plethora of recipes that are out there and sold at the backs of most trucks in El Paso.
So is it any wonder that Frito Pie is on his list of "Eat at your own risk!?" Essentially, it's a dish made with Frito Lay Corn chips.
8 WOULDN'T TOUCH: BRIOCHE BUNS FOR BURGERS
Brioche is definitely a great piece of bread. Anthony thought so too. Put some Nutella in there, some jam, and heck, you've got yourself a tasty treat, breakfast or even a midnight snack, should your tummy come a rumbling in the wee hours.
But, as far as the great Culinary and literary mind of Anthony Bourdain's was concerned, do not, ever think of putting a burger in a brioche bun such as the ones pictured here.
According to cheatsheet.com, there was no greater tragedy for him.
In fact there is a great deal of sugar that goes into that batter, so we can more than understand his vehemence for the combo of the bun itself and meat when all your in the mood for is savory, succulent beef.
7 WOULDN'T TOUCH: ANYTHING VEGETARIAN
Well, we're not saying the man never got into any trouble. We're not saying that at all. He was definitely known to poke a few people and all in the wrong places. But after all, he was a writer. He was paid not to caress the egos of one and all, but he was paid to tell the truth, or how he saw it, of course.
And as a reviewer, he was definitely paid to give his opinion, and as we've said, he didn't pull any punches.
His opinion of vegetarians wasn''t very high, and although we don't agree, as there are some epic vegetarian dishes out there, we can defend him in one area. His vehemence for the cuisine or lifestyle was out of worrying for vegetarians themselves, he was worried about all the epic meats they were missing--deep down at least.
6 WOULDN'T TOUCH: INDIAN RESTAURANTS IN NEW YORK
To say that Anthony Bourdain didn't like a life of opportunity would be an understatement. He did, but he wasn't just gifted these opportunities. He indeed worked harder and more skillfully than anyone else and he deserved his merits, accolades and opportunities, no matter how many he got thrown his way, and, of course, he made the most of them.
Being a man of opportunities and many of them at that, he detested Indian restaurants in the city of New York and for the simple reason that he had been spoiled by having eaten authentic Indian cuisine from the source many times in his life.
He felt that once you've been given such a chance, you can never go back to the food you were eating before, it's just not the same.
5 WOULDN'T TOUCH: THE WHOLE PUMPKIN SPICE CRAZE
According to insidehook.com, Anthony was also a pretty difficult person to impress when it came to popular fads in the food industry, and what greater fad, especially during the autumn season, than the whole pumpkin spice thing?
Seems like restaurants and coffee shops are putting it into everything this time of year--especially lattes.
Personally it doesn't bother us much, but we can more than understand how Anthony felt. Like, if I have to have one more bite of candy can ice cream during the holidays, I think I'll scream!
4 WOULDN'T TOUCH: ROOM SERVICE
Imagine if you will that the kitchen is closing down. The dishwashers are placing the last of the clean dishes back in the dish racks, the silverware is polished and the floors have been mopped.
The chefs are probably happy and not only for a great day at work, but they're happy that the day of work is in fact over.
All of this happiness and camaraderie ends in a split second and that's at the utterance of the phone bolted to the kitchen wall just by the swinging doors.
If we failed to tell you that this is a hotel kitchen and the phone call signaled room service at the worst possible moment: the last 15 minutes of opening hours, then we apologize, but the sentiments felt by the crew are probably exactly why Anthony never called for room service.
3 WOULDN'T TOUCH: WASABI AND SOY SAUCE BLEND
There's a time and a place and a manner in which food is ingested; especially quality food. Like Sushi.
Now we know how Mr. Bourdain felt about Sushi. In fact, there was no greater thing. The simplicity of it absolutely moved him and rightfully so. Probably Japan's greatest culinary export. But the cardinal sin, in the Sushi milieu is mixing wasabi with soy sauce.
According to insidehook.com, Anthony was fond of saying that if a Sushi chef would witness a patron doing that, he'll lose all respect for you.
Now of all the people to lose respect for you why, for the love of all that is good, why would you upset the Sushi chef of all people?
2 WOULDN'T TOUCH: KOBE BEEF SLIDERS
According to insidehook.com, another item that Anthony absolutely detested was in fact yet another hot item on the high end side of the culinary border, Kobe Beef.
Now, it wasn't the marble-like beef that he hated or that bothered him, but rather the fact that many restaurants can in fact be quite weird with this particular meat, often preparing other types of beef and passing it off as the expensive meat. It's the mystery behind it all always got to him.
The meat can be imitated but often not duplicated that well and the cutting of this corner always angered him.
1 WOULDN'T TOUCH: ENGLISH MUFFINS
And here's another reason as to why Anthony hated Eggs Benedict: the English Muffins themselves!
We know he disliked Hollandaise, but why would he not like the bread in the whole creation?
The sogginess of it all. According to cheatsheet.com, he hated the texture that English Muffins tend to have when heated and of course sauced. No matter how much you toast an English Muffin, it tends to get dehydrated when heated with sauce, resulting in quite a soggy dish that quite revolted poor Anthony.
Sources: Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain; cheatsheet.com; insidehook.com; youtube.com/episodes of No Reservations, Parts Unknown and The Layover; thedailybeast.com