Anthony Bourdain inspired us to travel, live and eat to our heart’s content. He gave us books and TV shows that let us understand his thought process and what food means to him. Parts Unknown did not get famous because he was simply a good cook, he seemed to know exactly what food was supposed to be like. Across the world, Anthony Bourdain managed to take a simple dish and make it better, one innovative step at a time.
His work is funny, informative and seems to bridge the gap between people with differences of any kind. Along with each recipe and bit of information, he also gave us a bit of himself and that is what made his work pretty special.
Bourdain left a legacy behind him, not just regarding food but also regarding how to live life and travel well. Even upon his passing, his shows are still the bible for cooks and travellers around the world so it is only fitting that we acknowledge his abilities to spot a good meal and step away from a bad one. So, what sort of food makes you happy? Maybe this list will help you get started on your own and it could even be the first step on your food journey.
“You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind," Anthony said and it looks like he did.
22 Loved: Sushi
Not many of us have the ability to walk into the best sushi restaurant in the world and try just about any delightful dish that takes our fancy but then again not many of us are Anthony Bourdain. One of the best restaurants, headed by Masaharu Morimoto from Iron Chef no less, is one of Anthony’s favourite stops while he is in Japan. Even though we only got to live vicariously through our screens back home, something about the way he took us through it made it feel like we were taking a bite as well - and had us calling up our favourite sushi takeaway for dinner.
21 Skipped: Nashville Hot Chicken
Anthony was very quick to admit that he did not have the stomach for Nashville Hot Chicken. According to him, you should not go anywhere near it if you do not have a couple of days to spare for the bathroom break you are inevitably going to need. One of his direct quotes was, “I think I am hallucinating.” So maybe skip that one no matter how tempting it may seem to set your taste buds on fire for kicks. The chicken is double-dredged, deep-fried and straight from hell. It may look like your standard fried chicken but it will make the rest of your time pretty messed up.
20 Loved: Sisig
Anthony was a big fan of food from just about anywhere in Asia and was commonly heard mentioning how much he loved the spices and flavours that seemed to work so well with each other. He even brought back a few ideas whenever he was stateside. One of the countries that his stomach fell in love with was the Philippines. He was quoted saying that “It’s simple, flavorful, delicious and goes perfectly with beer. All you can ask for.” This favourite of his was even mentioned in one of the episodes when he tried two different variations of the dish while on his 2017 Manila trip.
19 Skipped: Steak well-done
Anthony Bourdain has seen everything there is to see when it comes to restaurants, so it is fair to say that he knew the inner workings of every restaurant pretty well. Anthony has mentioned, on more than one occasion, that you will probably get a tough piece of meat if you decide to go for a well-done steak. He actually shuddered when he heard about certain other celebrities who prefer their meat well-done, "I think that’s a window into [their] soul. Anyone who’s that indifferent to food is problematic for me."
18 Loved: Cacio e Pepe
In one of the episodes of No Reservations, you will hear Bourdain referring to a good bowl of pasta as "the greatest thing in the history of the world" and we cannot help but agree. It is also a very easy dish to whip up at home and is even know as Italy's version of mac n' cheese so it really is no surprise that Anthony Bourdain fell in love with it. His personal favourite place to get the dish from was Ristorante Roma Sparita which is in Rome where you get the dish served in a bowl of Parmesan. So, if you do want to give it a shot, you could start with this recipe which is a close copy of the dish that is served in Rome.
17 Skipped: Chicken Caesar
Among his fairly long list of foods that do not deserve to be eaten, Bourdain mentions Chicken Caesar salad as an unnecessary evil. Caesar salad is best served exactly as it is. Adding chicken to it tends to confuse and complicate the dish which is not great for your taste buds. In one of his book, Appetites, Anthony says that "God does not want you to put chicken on your Caesar salad." So, if Jesus is involved, it is probably pretty serious and best to stay away. Grilled chicken on a Caesar salad is a definite skip.
16 Loved: NYC Hot Dogs
Anthony Bourdain saying NYC Hot Dogs are amazing should not come as a surprise since he grew up on them himself. The foods that we spent our childhood with are the ones we can not seem to forget. Bourdain always had a thing for simple living and this is proof he was like that from the very beginning. You cannot go wrong with NYC hot dogs at any point in the year and it is a necessity for games, family outings and everything in between. It is cheap, filling and makes your belly happy.
15 Skipped: Club Sandwich
Another well-known bit of Bourdain's book Appetites, was when he compared a good old club sandwich to just about the worst people in the world. He goes on to explain why he thinks it is best left in the bin by saying that the middle slice of bread is pretty much useless and should be made redundant. He has been caught ranting about the middle slice of bread in the past as well so everyone has understood that it is not exactly his cup of tea. Another time he mentioned the dreaded club sandwich was when he called the dish an 'enemy of freedom.'
14 Loved: Roasted Suckling Pig
In season 2 of Bourdain's show, No reservations, he visited Bali and tried the Roasted Suckling Pig which he was absolutely taken by it pretty much immediately. He describes it as the best he has ever had. The dish has generous portions of roasted pig with crispy skin cooked just right. The traditional dish is served in a red hot sauce along with some veggies, jackfruit and coconut flavoured rice. The dish has a wonderful blend of spices as well that really pulls the dish together. He described the skin as 'extraordinary' and also said 'it tastes like candy.'
13 Skipped: Kobe Sliders
Anthony Bourdain is not a big fan of Kobe sliders and has been recorded saying that he 'can not wait till they are gone for good'. He compared it to a bottle service at a nightclub by saying that using Kobe beef in the sliders adds nothing to the dish other than an unnecessary price tag. This should come as no surprise considering Anthony frequently mentioned how he thought good food often came at the most down-to-earth places that were easy on your wallet. He is pretty much against Kobe in general.
12 Loved: Chicken Noodle Soup from Thailand
Bourdain was always known for his love of South-East Asia and has even mentioned that he thinks western countries did not get food right the way poorer countries did because they never felt the need to try. He goes on to explain that the reason Asian food has reached greatness is because of years of experimentation with different flavours. In Bangkok, Thailand on one of his many adventures across countries he called home at the end, he fell in love with their traditional chicken noodle soup. It is not an over-powering dish and is perfect for a light meal.
11 Skipped: Food on a plane
Snakes on a plane may have scared you but food on a plane is what scared Bourdain. A kitchen miles above ground level does not really exist so you are, in essence, getting preservative-rich meals that do nothing for your stomach or heart. They lack soul, taste and any nutritional value. Moral of the story being that you should grab a snack in the airport instead of depending on what they serve you while flying. Even better, get yourself really hungry so that by the time you land you are aching for the local delicacies even more than you were before.
10 Loved: Stir Fry
One of Anthony Bourdain's favourite meals was a good stir-fry and it did not really matter what was in it. It is a quick and easy dish that is packed full of flavour which is exactly what you need in a new country. Across many Asian countries, you will find tons of women that have stalls selling stir-fried noodles with pork and egg. It is a wholesome meal that every country does just a little differently. When Anthony was in Thailand with fellow chef Andy Ricker, he fell in love with a stir-fry that tasted particularly wonderful after a few drinks.
9 Loved: Macau-style Pork Chop Sandwich
Bourdain refers to a good pork chop sandwich as the most delicious recipe in his book Appetites. He even goes on to explain how they had trouble at the shoot because everyone kept hogging the models which is proof enough that we should all give it a go. This sandwich is perfect at any time of the day with its crispy pork in the middle of two slices of bread with just a bit of spicy chili sauce.
8 Skipped: Frito Pie
Bourdain famously criticised the Frito Pie that was served at Five and Dime General Store in New Mexico by describing it as "Canned Hormel chilli, and dayglo orange cheese-like substance" that was served in a bag of Fritos. In case you haven't guessed, he does not approve. To the man that wants food with soul, a bag of puffed up preservatives was obviously a disappointment. He also mentioned that it was 'disturbing' to hold the dish in your hand and based on the information available we have guessed that it did not taste great either.
7 Loved: Bodega Sandwiches
The ultimate comfort food for New Yorkers is a good Bodega sandwich which is an eggy, cheese based sandwich full of goodness. It is an amazing snack to bite into after a hard day's work and for Anthony Bourdain, it reminded him of home. In his book, Appetites he even took the time to explain exactly how to get it right. Apart from fitting in bacon, egg and cheese in a Kaiser roll, you should also accompany it with "shitty coffee" for the full experience.
6 Loved: Cassoulet
Anthony Bourdain has mentioned his love for traditional French cuisine pretty often with cassoulet being one of his favourites. It was mentioned within his cookbook Les Halles and he made it a point to get the recipe written down perfectly so that it mirrored the classic. The dish was also featured on an episode of No Reservations when he created the dish for the Ruhlman family and added a few of his own tips during the episode. His recipe is known the world over as being one of the best and you will not regret giving it a go.
5 Skipped: Gluten-free food
Anthony Bourdain was all about food that made the soul happy and looked at food as a way to cross barriers and understand each other. So you can imagine his frustration when he discovered that some people are on a gluten-free diet to lose weight. This is not only because he loved food but also because a gluten-free diet is not a good idea medically speaking. The only doctors that would recommend it are the ones the Kardashians go to so, keeping away and bingeing on pasta has never been a better idea.
4 Loved: Mac 'n' Cheese
We can all understand this one pretty well considering pretty much all of us have an unhealthy obsession with macaroni and cheese. Anthony Bourdain has mentioned on multiple occasions that he is a big fan of mac n' cheese and had unhealthy cravings just like us common folk. His favourite place is Louisiana-founded Popeye's which now has its headquarters in Atlanta. Popeye's was his one-stop destination for everything American and fattening once he got back from a foreign land with mac n' cheese being his favourite.
3 Skipped: Home Fries
There were a few breakfast items that Anthony Bourdain detested with a burning passion, home fries was one of them. His story behind it is that for most of his career, every low-point seemed to be associated with breakfast or brunch so, unfortunately enough, home fries smell of defeat and failure to him. Another reason he is not a fan is because of the lack of freshness when it comes to the dish. He says that they are made in bulk and reheated before consumption. They lack a lot of the elements that make a dish good so its a skip from our end.
2 Skipped: Brioche Buns
Anthony Bourdain's Crimes against food list is well thought out and long. Brioche buns made the cut. He described them as unsuitable for a burger and even went on to explain why. Anthony explained that a burger bun is meant to absorb grease rather than make the situation worse which is what brioche buns do. When you buy yourself a burger, it is preferable that that bun has structural integrity and does not crumble upon touch. If you agree with that then take his wise advice and avoid brioche buns.
1 Loved: Mushroom Soup
This entry to our list is a two-for-one because we are going to have something Anthony loves, possibly ruined by something he hates. Mushroom soup was one of his favourite recipes from his cookbook but he did mention that if you use truffle oil you should be punched in the kidneys. So, preferably do not do that unless you want him to roll over in his grave. This amazing dish comes from his book Les Halles and it had fond memories for Bourdain much like his other favourites.