from an apparent suicide in France while working on his CNN series “Parts Unknown,” the network announced Friday. He was 61.
This piece originally aired on November 5, 2016.
Chef Anthony Bourdain left the kitchen to become a best-selling author and is now known as an Emmy-winning, globe-trotting TV host. He’s a very busy guy as “CBS This Morning: Saturday” co-host Anthony Mason found out when he met him in New York for this special edition of “The Dish.”
After a life on the road traveling to parts unknown, eating with no reservations, Anthony Bourdain is very particular when he gets back home.
“So you don’t like being fussed over at restaurants, do you?” “CBS This Morning: Saturday” co-host Anthony Mason asked.
“No, I don’t. I don’t want to be comped. I don’t want extra courses. Just serve me like anyone else,” Bourdain replied.
That’s why he met Mason at Pastrami Queen on New York’s Lexington Avenue.
“This is your place when you come home?” Mason asked.
“This is my go-to. This is what I crave,” Bourdain said. “No matter how well I’ve been eating or where that might be, this is the first thing I want and need.”
In his travels, Bourdain has eaten everything from rotten shark to sheep testicles.
“Is there anything you won’t eat?” Mason asked.
“I’ve eaten a lot of bad food, I’ve eaten a lot of putrefied food,” Bourdain said. “It’s when no one cares at all, that’s soul-destroying. I mean, maybe I take it too seriously, but I will literally — a really carelessly made burger by a large cynical large company, the contempt implicit in that transaction can really send me into a spiral of depression that will last for days.”
Actually, little seems to slow him down.
“So how many pots do you have on the stove?” Mason asked.
“I don’t even know. A lot. I mean, but all of them are fun pots,” Bourdain said.
They include producing, writing and starring in his CNN series “Parts Unknown,” his web series “Raw Craft,” authoring a new cookbook and a speaking tour.
And for some 250 days a year, Bourdain is on the road.
“It’s been like that for the better part of 15 years,” Bourdain said.
“And you’re OK with that?” Mason asked.
“I’ve been sentenced to the best job in the world.”
It started in 1999, when the then-struggling chef wrote an article for the New Yorker titled “Don’t Eat Before Reading This.”
“Which mushroomed into a book deal?” Mason said.
“Overnight,” Bourdain said.
“Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly,” published in 2000, turned the restaurant world inside out and Bourdain’s life upside down.
“And this book changed everything,” Mason said.
“Everything. I mean I was 44 years old, uninsured, hideously and hopelessly in debt, behind on my taxes, behind on my rent,” Bourdain said.
The book would sell more than a million copies and launch a new career for the culinary bad boy.
“How is this guy different than that guy?” Mason asked.
“I think when you travel as much as I have you — I don’t want to say I’m more humble, but I think you become aware of how other people live, how hard their lives are, how big the world is,” Bourdain said. “And then of course, the fatherhood changes everything. I became a father at 50. You know, at that moment you stop being the star of the film.”
“That’s the truth,” Mason said, laughing.
“For me that was an enormous relief and a gift,” Bourdain said.
His daughter, Ariane, is the inspiration for his new cookbook, “Appetites.”
“The person I am trying to please, more often than not, is a 9-year-old and her friends,” Bourdain said. “And I thought it would put a stake in the heart of the bad boy image left over from 1999.”
As with any edition of The Dish, Mason grabbed a drink with the chef.
“This is some very good 30-year-old Balvenie whiskey,” Bourdain said.
At Bemelmans Bar in the Carlyle Hotel, they sampled some of Balvenie’s best scotch, which sells for about $1,000 a bottle.
“Very smooth,” Mason said.
“It better be,” Bourdain said.
Bourdain has partnered with the Scottish distillery on his new web series, “Raw Craft,” to profile great artisans.
“So what is it you admire about them?” Mason asked.
“I think because I worked in an industry where everything was fungible, everything was replaceable, everything was temporary — food — you only had that one second of satisfaction,” Bourdain said. “There’s a little part of me that’s always thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to make beautiful things with my hands that last?'”
He’s had a lot of unlikely encounters in his travels. This season on “Parts Unknown,” Bourdain met up with President Obama in a small Hanoi restaurant in Vietnam.
“It was not an ideal situation from the Secret Service’s point of view, I assure you. It was a room about this size, I think one exit, second floor of a not particularly clean noodle shop,” Bourdain said. “He’s very good with chopsticks, which endears anyone to me. And it was nice seeing the president of the United States drinking beer out of a bottle.”
“Is there anybody out there you still really want to have a meal with?” Mason asked.
“Keith Richards,” Bourdain said. “I’ve been trying for years. We’d do like bangers and mash and maybe cook steak and kidney pie with Keith Richards. And talk about British naval history, which he’s a big fan of. I think that would be super cool.”