Bourdain in June 2006
|Born||Anthony Michael Bourdain
June 25, 1956
Culinary Institute of America
|Spouse||Nancy Putkoski (1980s–2000s)
Ottavia Busia (April 20, 2007–present)
Anthony Michael "Tony" Bourdain (born June 25, 1956) is an American author and chef. He is well known for his 2000 book Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly and is the host of Travel Channel's culinary and cultural adventure program Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations.
A 1978 graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and a 28-year veteran of professional kitchens, Bourdain is currently a chef-at-large whose home base is Brasserie Les Halles, where he was executive chef for many years.
Bourdain was born in New York City but grew up in Leonia, New Jersey. Bourdain has French ancestry on his father's side; his paternal grandfather immigrated to New York from France following World War I. His father's name is Pierre Bourdain and he died in 1988. His mother's name is Gladys Bourdain. He went to Englewood School for Boys and graduated in 1973. Bourdain attended Vassar College and dropped out after 2 years. He graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1978. Currently, Bourdain is honorary Chef-at-Large of Brasserie Les Halles, where he held the title of executive chef for nearly a decade. When he is not traveling, Bourdain lives in Manhattan.
Bourdain married his high-school girlfriend, Nancy Putkoski, in the 1980s, and they remained together for two decades before divorcing; Bourdain has cited the irrevocable changes that come from traveling widely as the cause of the split. He currently lives with his second wife, Ottavia Busia. Together, they have one daughter, Ariane, born on April 9, 2007; the couple wed on April 20, 2007.
In Kitchen Confidential, Bourdain describes how his love of food was kindled in France — when he tried his first oyster on an oyster fisherman's boat as a youth while on a family vacation. Later, while attending Vassar College, he worked in the seafood restaurants of Provincetown, Massachusetts, which sparked his decision to pursue cooking as a career. Bourdain graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1978, and went on to run various restaurant kitchens in New York City — including the Supper Club, One Fifth Avenue, and Sullivan's — culminating in the position of executive chef at Brasserie Les Halles beginning in 1998. Brasserie Les Halles is based in Manhattan, with additional locations in Miami and, at the time of Bourdain's tenure, Washington, D.C. and Tokyo, Japan.
Bourdain gained immediate popularity from his 2000 New York Times bestselling book Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly. The book is a witty and rambunctious exposé of the hidden and darker side of the culinary world, and is a memoir of Bourdain's professional life as well.
Bourdain subsequently wrote two more New York Times bestselling nonfiction books: A Cook's Tour (2001), an exotic account of his food and travel exploits across the world, written in conjunction with his first television series; and The Nasty Bits (2006), another collection of exotic, provocative, and humorous anecdotes and essays mainly centered on food. Bourdain's additional books include Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook; the culinary mysteries Bone in the Throat and Gone Bamboo; a hypothetical historical investigation, Typhoid Mary: An Urban Historical; and No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach.
Bourdain's articles and essays have appeared many places, including in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Observer, Gourmet, Maxim, Esquire (UK), Scotland on Sunday, The Face, Food Arts, Limb by Limb, BlackBook, The Independent, Best Life, the Financial Times, and Town & Country. On the Internet, Bourdain's blog for Season 3 of Top Chef was nominated for a Webby Award for best Blog – Cultural/Personal in 2008.
The acclaim surrounding Bourdain's racy memoir, Kitchen Confidential, led to an offer to host his own food and world-travel show, A Cook's Tour, by the Food Network, premiering on January 8, 2002. In July 2005, he premiered a new, somewhat similar television series, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, on the Travel Channel. As a further result of the immense popularity of Kitchen Confidential, the 2005 Fox sitcom Kitchen Confidential, debuted, in which the character "Jack Bourdain" is based loosely on the biography and persona of Anthony Bourdain.
In July 2006, Bourdain was in Beirut filming an episode of No Reservations when the Israel-Lebanon conflict broke out. Bourdain and his crew were evacuated with other American citizens on the morning of July 20 by the United States Marines. Despite having filmed only one restaurant before fighting began, Bourdain's producers compiled the Beirut footage into a No Reservations episode which aired on August 21, 2006. Uncharacteristically, the episode included footage of both Bourdain and his production staff, and included not only their initial attempts to film the episode, but also their firsthand encounters with Hezbollah supporters, their days of waiting for news with other expatriates in a Beirut hotel, and their eventual escape aided by a "cleaner" (unseen in the footage) whom Bourdain dubbed "Mr. Wolf", after the character portrayed by Harvey Keitel in Pulp Fiction. The episode was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2007.
Bourdain has appeared five times as guest judge on Bravo's Top Chef reality cooking competition program: first in the November 2006 "Thanksgiving" episode of Season 2; and then again in June 2007 in the first episode of Season 3, judging the "exotic surf and turf" competition featuring ingredients including abalone, alligator, black chicken, geoduck and eel. His third appearance was also in Season 3, as an expert on air travel, judging the competitors' airplane meals. Bourdain also wrote weekly blog commentaries for many of the Season 3 episodes, filling in as a guest blogger while Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio was busy opening a new restaurant. Bourdain next appeared as a guest judge for the opening episode of Season 4, in which pairs of chefs competed head-to-head in the preparation of various classic dishes; and again in the Season 4 Restaurant Wars episode, temporarily taking the place of head judge Tom Colicchio, who was at a charity event.
Bourdain has also appeared in an episode of TLC's reality show Miami Ink which originally aired August 28, 2006. Artist Chris Garver tattooed a skull on Bourdain's right shoulder, who noted it was his fourth tattoo. Among other reasons, he wished to balance the ouroboros tattoo he had done on his opposite shoulder in Malaysia while filming Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations.
Bourdain made a guest appearance on the August 6, 2007 New York City episode of Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern; Zimmern appeared as a guest on the New York City episode of Bourdain's No Reservations airing the same day. On October 20, 2008 Bourdain hosted a special, "At the Table with Anthony Bourdain," on the Travel Channel. Bourdain also has a brief cameo appearance in the 2008 movie Far Cry.
Known for consuming exotic and daring ethnic dishes, Bourdain is famous for eating sheep testicles in Morocco, ant eggs in Puebla, Mexico, a raw seal eyeball as part of a traditional Inuit seal hunt, and a whole cobra — beating heart, blood, bile, and meat — in Vietnam. According to Bourdain, the most disgusting thing he has ever eaten is a Chicken McNugget, though he has also declared that the unwashed warthog rectum he ate in Namibia and the fermented shark he ate in Iceland are among "the worst meals of his life."
Bourdain has been known for being an unrepentant drinker and smoker. In a nod to Bourdain's (at the time) two-pack-a-day cigarette habit, renowned chef Thomas Keller once served him a 20-course tasting menu which included a mid-meal "coffee and cigarette": a coffee custard infused with tobacco, together with a foie gras mousse. Bourdain has stopped cigarette smoking as of the summer of 2007, because of the birth of his daughter.
Because of Bourdain's liberal use of profanity and sexual references in his television show No Reservations, the network has prepended viewer discretion advisories to each segment of each episode. In early seasons, these were a simple screen of white text on a black background, but in more recent seasons, they now include animation that is related in some way to the episode.
Adding to his untamed image, Bourdain is a former user of cocaine, heroin, and LSD. In Kitchen Confidential he writes of his experience in a trendy SoHo restaurant in 1981: "We were high all the time, sneaking off to the walk-in refrigerator at every opportunity to 'conceptualize.' Hardly a decision was made without drugs. Cannabis, methaqualone, cocaine, LSD, psilocybin mushrooms soaked in honey and used to sweeten tea, secobarbital, tuinal, amphetamine, codeine and, increasingly, heroin, which we'd send a Spanish-speaking busboy over to Alphabet City to get." In the same book, Bourdain frankly describes his former addiction, including how he once resorted to selling his record collection on the street in order to raise enough money to score drugs.
Bourdain is also noted for his not-so-subtle put-downs of celebrity chefs such as Emeril Lagasse (though he has since warmed up to Lagasse, who has appeared with Bourdain in an episode of No Reservations) and Bobby Flay, and Food Network personalities such as Sandra Lee and Rachael Ray (who is the butt of many jokes on No Reservations). Bourdain fully expressed his feelings about certain Food Network personalities in a popular blog entry from February 2007, and appears to be irritated by both the overt commercialism of the celebrity cooking industry and its lack of culinary authenticity. In October 2009, he commented that Alice Waters was "Pol Pot in a muumuu". Bourdain has recognized the irony of his transformation into a celebrity chef and has, to some extent, begun to qualify his insults. He has been consistently outspoken in his praise for chefs he admires, particularly Thomas Keller, Masa Takayama, Alton Brown, Eric Ripert, Ferran Adrià, Fergus Henderson, Marco Pierre White, and Mario Batali. Bourdain has also spoken very highly of Julia Child, saying that she "influenced the way I grew up and my entire value system." 
Bourdain is also known for sarcastic comments about people who are vegan or vegetarian, feeling that their lifestyle is rude to those who inhabit the many countries he visits. Bourdain has said he considers vegetarianism, except in the case of religious strictures as in India, a "first world luxury."
Bourdain's taste in music is also a matter of public record. His book, The Nasty Bits, is dedicated to "Joey, Johnny, and Dee Dee" of the Ramones. Bourdain has declared fond appreciation for their music, as well that of other early punk bands such as Dead Boys, Television, The New York Dolls, and The Voidoids. Additionally, Bourdain writes in Kitchen Confidential that the playing of music by Billy Joel in his kitchen was grounds for immediate firing (coincidentally, Joel is a fan of his and has subsequently visited the restaurant). In the 2006 No Reservations episode in Sweden, Bourdain proclaimed that his all-time favorite album (his "desert island disc") is the groundbreaking punk record Fun House by The Stooges; he also made it clear that he despises the Swedish pop group ABBA. And on his 2007 No Reservations Holiday Special episode, the rock band Queens of the Stone Age were the featured dinner guests, adding food-inspired holiday songs to the episode's soundtrack.
Bourdain is an advocate for communicating the value and tastiness of traditional or "peasant" foods, including specifically all of the varietal bits and unused animal parts not usually eaten by affluent 21st-century Westerners. Bourdain has also consistently noted and championed the high quality and deliciousness of freshly prepared street food in other countries — especially developing countries — as compared to fast food chains in the U.S.
Another of Bourdain's major concerns is acknowledging and championing the industrious immigrants — often from Latin America — who make up a majority of the chefs and cooks in many U.S. restaurants, including upscale restaurants, regardless of cuisine. Bourdain considers them to be talented chefs and invaluable cooks, underpaid and unrecognized even as they make up the backbone of the U.S. restaurant industry.
The Beirut episode of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, which documented the experiences of Bourdain and his crew during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict, was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Informational Programming in 2007.
In 2008, Bourdain was inducted into the James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America.
In 2009, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations won a Creative Arts Emmy Award for Outstanding Cinematography for Nonfiction Programming.
Anthony Michael "Tony" Bourdain (born June 25, 1956) is an American author and the "Chef-at-Large" of Brasserie Les Halles, based in New York City with locations in Miami, Florida, and Washington, D.C. Bourdain is also host of the Travel Channel's culinary and cultural adventure program, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations.