picture courtesy of anthonybourdain.com
The first time I saw Anthony Bourdain on TV, something like six years ago, I was just beginning my journey to become a foodie. His show, "No Reservations", was on, and I saw the arrogant gray-haired chef sauntering down a Vietnam road, boasting about his adventures. I immediately absolutely loathed his image. He was cocksure, snobbish, holier-than-thou -- ack, I just couldn't stomach him.
Well, all that is true. Anthony Bourdain has an enormously distinguished career as a chef, writer, and truth-teller. That's really the heart of what makes him special, and what has villainized him to no end. In his books, and, to a lesser extent, on his television shows, he dares to truly express what happens in the confines of a kitchen, what goes down in the food worlds across the globe, and how chef's really spend their time and money. It seems all those traits that I first took note of are the very tickets to his success.
I haven't been won over entirely - don't think I'm going soft on this cocky bastard. But I cannot deny that the man can truly write, and from the looks of it, he's a master chef as well. What has moved me recently, however, is his plight in Beirut. He went to Lebanon before the fighting broke out to film a city on the rise - to show the ways in which this culture was bouncing back, and embracing a culinary adventurous spirit. But as his television crew began to illustrate Beirut's passion and flair, the bombs starting raining in. As he says, he "watched the city die." He posted a poignant and power article on Salon.com about this heart-breaking journey, and it's amazing. He is amazing. There, I said it. Would I want to spend a day with him trying to maneuver around his cocky attitude and get at the real Anthony Bourdain? Not exactly. But respect where respect is due - he's an adventurer, and a truth-seeker, and no matter what, that's a damn noble way to spend your life.