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Anthony Bourdain: the chef's writer

Anthony Bourdain: a voice from the chef's kitchen

by Great British Chefs 08 June 2018

As news breaks on the chef and food writer’s untimely death, we take a look at the fascinating career of one of the world’s most important voices on food and culture.

Ask many chefs and food writers what their favourite book is, and many of them will say Kitchen Confidential. This incredible account offered a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the workings of a professional kitchen, with nothing left to the imagination. The ferocity of head chefs, the mischief of the brigade and the raw obsession for cooking had never been captured in writing before, and it propelled Anthony Bourdain, the books author, from disgruntled chef to culinary superstar.

It is with great sadness that we learnt of Anthony’s passing today whilst filming an episode of his latest show Parts Unknown in Strasbourg, France, at the age of sixty-one. His books and TV shows over the years haven’t just helped people the world over fall in love with food; they bridged the gap between food, travel and culture, encouraging the international food scene to grow into what it is today.

After falling in love with food as a child during a holiday to France, he worked at various restaurants and attended the Culinary Institute of America. In 1998 he became executive chef at Brasserie Les Helles, in Manhattan, and two years later he released his seminal book Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly. The success of this semi-autobiographical memoir led to a TV show on Food Network called A Cook’s Tour, which aired from 2002–2003, and then his most famous show No Reservations, which ran for an incredible seven years and saw Anthony explore the cuisines of the world. This show, along with his first book, made him an international figure and one of the most important voices in the world of food.

Other TV shows after No Reservations finished included The Layover, which featured food and travel guides to cities which could be completed in less than forty-eight hours, and Parts Unknown, which took a more cultural and political slant than his previous projects and famously included an episode where he ate with Barack Obama in Vietnam.

Anthony was a hero of many a chef, food writer, critic and foodie, and his passing is a tragic event that will send shockwaves through the industry. His roguish charisma and sheer passion for gastronomy shone through every sentence he wrote and every scene he appeared in.

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