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Third Degree with… Anthony Bourdain
The Editors | Photo: Courtesy of CNN | July 30, 2014
When the chef, author and TV personality isn’t traveling the world in search of the most exciting undiscovered meals for his hit show, CNN’s Parts Unknown, the Emmy- and Peabody-winner can often be found at his home in Montauk with his wife and daughter. In anticipation of Bourdain’s appearance at Guild Hall’s Stirring the Pot: Conversations With Culinary Celebrities on Aug. 10, here’s a sampling of his sharp-tongued wisdom.
Which six iconic figures would be at your dream dinner party?
Orson Welles; actress Louise Brooks; British intelligence officer Kim Philby, who was actually a KGB spy; Ava Gardner; Iggy Pop; and movie director John Houston
What’s in your home refrigerator right now?
Almost nothing. Meat—my wife’s a [mixed martial arts] fighter, so she’s always in training—so, basically, meat, bottled water and a half-eaten birthday cake.
Dish you prepare best?
My boeuf bourguignon’s pretty good.
Spice you can’t live without?
French sea salt and Kampot black pepper from Cambodia. If I have good salt and pepper, I’m happy.
Favorite music to dine by?
Worst job you ever had?
Brunch cook. I have a pathological hatred of brunch. To me, it’s the smell of all the low points of my career, when I was unemployable anywhere respectable but could always get a job as a brunch cook. To this day, if I smell French toast I start twitching uncontrollably.
Favorite thing about the Hamptons?
The North Atlantic and steamer clams, local tomatoes, corn on the cob—they’re the flavors, smells and sounds of my childhood.
Least favorite thing about the Hamptons?
I manage to avoid everything heinous about the Hamptons—I stay completely under the radar. I don’t go to parties, I don’t go to benefits, I don’t go to restaurants—my daughter and I cook together, and she’s become very good for a 7-year-old.
F**k. I use it as a comma. You can really use it in 30 different ways, depending entirely on context and inflection.
Last thing you Googled?
Chris Blackwell, the chief of Island Records, who signed Bob Marley. I was just in Jamaica doing a show and was looking up his family history and career—it’s fascinating.
Best advice you were ever given?
‘Show up on time.’ Those are defining, life-changing words I still live by 30 years later. I worked for a guy who, if you showed up only 14, not 15, minutes early for your shift, sent you home and you lost the shift. The second time it happened you were fired. I make a lot of decisions about who I like and who I can do business with based entirely on punctuality. If you can’t show enough respect for your co-workers and the people you deal with to at least show up on time, it just says so much about you. You can teach skills, but you can’t teach character.
What’s the farthest you’d travel for an amazing meal?
I’d fly the 18 to 20 hours to Tokyo, Japan, right now just to eat at Jiro Ono’s restaurant, Sukiyabashi Jiro, which is one of the greatest sushi restaurants in the world.
Favorite Hamptons meal?
A big pot of steamers, boiled lobster, corn on the cob with lots of butter. I’ll make a tomato salad and keep it really simple—we just roll newspaper out on the table and throw the shells everywhere—that’s perfect happiness.
Who would play you in your film biopic?
Christopher Walken. That would be cool.
What does no one know about Anthony Bourdain?
How happy I am to be the father of a 7-year-old. It’s really the central pleasure of my life.