When someone you respect hits a milestone, I think it’s normal to feel some kind of way. When that person is Anthony Bourdain and he did an exclusive interview for his 60th birthday…that interview needs to be shared, and apparently, I have to write a post.
I believe this interview, Anthony Bourdain Turns 60, by John Birdsall is my favorite (by far) of pieces I’ve read on the bad boy of food. The verbiage and references alone make me happy as both a fan and someone who respects the hell out of Anthony Bourdain.
In a world that has only recently become infatuated with the food industry, someone like Anthony Bourdain has been a pioneer for years. While he doesn’t think that way, at least not in the same sense that other people may recognize, the man has done some incredible things for people who have never set foot in a professional kitchen. From taking a not-so-subtle approach to unleashing the truth in Kitchen Confidential to the cultural introductions he has conducted on Parts Unknown – Anthony Bourdain has bridged a gap for those who had only ever been exposed to Betty Crocker cookbooks or the crisp white linen of Manhattan’s fine-dining establishments.
As someone who respects this man tremendously, I find that others are not as enthralled with the way he portrays the realities of the kitchen as I am. It is my personal belief that if you have any semblance of journalism or ‘foodie’ in you, you should read everything he has ever written. His writing isn’t soft, it isn’t going to be light and airy, because his experience in a kitchen couldn’t be represented that way…at least not if you’re being honest. There’s something about the way Bourdain writes that is almost unbelievable for people who don’t understand the truth about what this industry can do to a person. The people who willingly cook professionally are that of a different breed. One of my favorite quotes from his interview is discussing one of the characteristics all chefs share, at least in my experience:
“It’s this relentless instinct to fuck up a good thing. I think it’s something that people on TV, people who write, people who cook share: this difficulty in giving love and receiving love. They just don’t quite know how to do it. Not comfortable with what seems normal for everybody else.”
As someone who worked the line and still has cooking in my soul, I have to agree with him. The people who choose that life are built differently and definitely function differently, but you wouldn’t necessarily know that unless you worked with them. In the kitchen that’s the norm. I think it’s (usually) an unspoken acknowledgement: we all know we’re tattooed, knife-wielding pyros who are just a little different.
I could go on for days about Anthony Bourdain, the dark side of life in the kitchen and my fascination with his fear of writing a bad sentence…but perhaps you should just read the interview instead. It was incredibly well written and in my humble opinion, an excellent portrayal and articulation of a guy, who enjoys ‘not giving a fuck’.
Happy birthday, Anthony Bourdain. Cheers.