He wanted to make the world a more inclusive place.
“His love of great adventure, new friends, fine food and drink and the remarkable stories of the world made him a unique storyteller,”
He spoke his mind. He had balls and the brain to match. He had convictions. He held on to his worldview with a rigidity that was both refreshing and borderline revolutionary for someone in his position: he was a chef who spoke the hard, often brutal truths about his industry, a travel guide who cut through the sanitized, force-fed bullshit, a media icon who wasn’t afraid to be criticized, ostracized, or demonized if it meant standing by his own words.
“As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life — and travel — leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks — on your body or on your heart — are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt,” he said on Parts Unknown,
In over 15 years on TV, Anthony Bourdain traveled to more than 80 countries. He went to active war zones, dined with the President of the United States, received drunken tattoos from Iban tribesmen, and ate in opulent dining rooms and back alleys alike. As a host, writer, and chef, he knew better than anyone that food is our connecting thread no matter where we’re from. He had the ability to find the soul of even the most remote, seemingly unpleasant places. Yes, he had a punk rock attitude, but he was also a romantic—a lover of literature and music and poetry. And that sensibility allowed him to explore a unique perspective in even the most familiar places. These are Bourdain’s greatest TV moments—the moments that proved the world is a beautiful, thrilling place.
“Without experimentation, a willingness to ask questions and try new things, we shall surely become static, repetitive, and moribund.”
He was never afraid to challenge his own ignorance. He championed travel as not just a pastime but as a pathway to deeper empathy and understanding. At a time when genuine human connection and the willingness to embrace and understand the unfamiliar feels so fragile and fraught, the erasure of his voice is an unequivocal loss.
1. “To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living.”
2. “Under ‘Reasons for Leaving Last Job,’ never give the real reason, unless it’s money or ambition.”
“YOUR BODY IS NOT A TEMPLE: IT’S AN AMUSEMENT PARK. ENJOY THE RIDE.”
3. “If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. Walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food. It’s a plus for everybody.”
4. “Skills can be taught. Character you either have or you don’t have.
“TRAVEL IS ABOUT THE GORGEOUS FEELING OF TEETERING IN THE UNKNOWN.”
5. “Assume the worst. About everybody. But don’t let this poisoned outlook affect your job performance. Let it all roll off your back. Ignore it. Be amused by what you see and suspect. Just because someone you work with is a miserable, treacherous, self-serving, capricious, and corrupt asshole shouldn’t prevent you from enjoying their company, working with them, or finding them entertaining.”
“I don’t have to agree with you to like you or respect you.”
6. “As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life — and travel — leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks — on your body or on your heart — are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.”
“THE WAY YOU MAKE AN OMELET REVEALS YOUR CHARACTER.”
“It’s very rarely a good career move to have a conscience.”
7. “Basic cooking skills are a virtue… the ability to feed yourself and a few others with proficiency should be taught to every young man and woman as a fundamental skill. [It’s] as vital to growing up as learning to wipe one’s own ass, cross the street by oneself, or be trusted with money.”
“LUCK IS NOT A BUSINESS MODEL.”
8. ”When dealing with complex transportation issues, the best thing to do is pull up with a cold beer and let somebody else figure it out.”
9. “Without experimentation, a willingness to ask questions and try new things, we shall surely become static, repetitive, and moribund.”
10. “Maybe that’s enlightenment enough: to know that there is no final resting place of the mind; no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom… is realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go.”
11. “There’s something wonderful about drinking in the afternoon. A not-too-cold pint, absolutely alone at the bar — even in this fake-ass Irish pub.”
“I’M NOT AFRAID TO LOOK LIKE AN IDIOT.”
12. “Without new ideas success can become stale.”
13. “I learned a long time ago that trying to micromanage the perfect vacation is always a disaster. That leads to terrible times.”
14. “I’m a big believer in winging it. I’m a big believer that you’re never going to find perfect city travel experience or the perfect meal without a constant willingness to experience a bad one. Letting the happy accident happen is what a lot of vacation itineraries miss, I think, and I’m always trying to push people to allow those things to happen rather than stick to some rigid itinerary.”
15. “Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s OK. The journey changes you; it should change you… You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”
“IT’S BEEN AN ADVENTURE. WE TOOK SOME CASUALTIES OVER THE YEARS. THINGS GOT BROKEN. THINGS GOT LOST. BUT I WOULDN’T HAVE MISSED IT FOR THE WORLD.”