For all his commercial success and critical acclaim over the years, Anthony Bourdain continues to occupy an odd space in the food world. He is a man who can brave the wild terrain of the Congo and Libya one moment—forever labeled a culinary "bad boy" and globetrotting raconteur in the media—and be seen donning a J. Crew sweater and jacket in the pages of Vogue the next.
With the eighth season of Parts Unknown currently running on CNN, and a new cookbook titled Appetites hitting shelves on Tuesday, Bourdain has been subjected to even more press than usual. Last week, the chef was profiled by Vogue's Oliver Strand, with the glossy fashion magazine following Bourdain as he dined in underground Japanese izakayas and continued to plot his massive, 155,000 square-foot food hall on Manhattan's Pier 57.
Though the piece focuses heavily on the chef's lofty goals for "Bourdain Market," the article also features a slew of revealing quotes from directors, publishers, and food critics, as well as Tony himself. From Bourdain’s strange love of Disney movies, to the challenges facing his latest, blockbuster venture by the Hudson, here are some of the biggest takeaways from Strand’s profile.
1. Director Adam McKay cast Bourdain in “The Big Short” to cut through all the “banking bullshit.”
“Agree with him or not, everyone knows his opinions come from a real place. So he was a perfect choice [for] cutting through mounds of banking bullshit and doublespeak.”
2. Bourdain is still surprised by his success on television.
“I assumed from the get-go that every minute I was on television was a freakish anomaly that would be over quickly. It came as a sobering and confusing moment when I realized I was still on the air. What the fuck is going on?”
3. Bourdain is still searching for the meaning of life.
“Life is complicated. It’s filled with nuance. It’s unsatisfying...If I believe in anything, it is doubt. The root cause of all life’s problems is looking for a simple fucking answer.”
4. Bourdain’s parents were adventurous eaters for their day.
“My parents were pretty adventurous. We would go into New York and eat at a Swedish restaurant or a Japanese restaurant or something. We liked movies with subtitles in my house. That meant something. The ‘other’ wasn’t bad or frightening. It was interesting.”
5. Bourdain’s wife, Ottavia Busia, reveals that the chef cries during Disney Movies.
“Disney cartoons make him cry. He has no problem admitting to terrible things, like drug addiction, crazy escapades, but he doesn’t admit his soft side.”
6. Bourdain quit smoking for his daughter’s sake.
“I mean, I’ve had more time on this Earth than I probably deserve, and I enjoy cigarettes very much, but now I feel that I owe this child who loves me to at least try to live a little longer, you know?”
7. Despite rumors of his separation from Busia, Bourdain plans to keep his family intact.
“Ottavia and I have lived mostly separate lives for years. I travel the world 250 days a year. She trains seven days a week. I admire her desire and commitment as I admire anyone who wants to be the best at something, just as she has been supportive of my professional choices. We have a lot of love and respect for each other and have managed to raise a happy, healthy, self-assured little girl together and we will continue to—together. We are and will remain a family. Maybe not your family, but a family just the same.”
8. Though they've had their differences, GQ’s Alan Richman respects the hell out of Bourdain.
“He’s about the smartest and best-informed nonintellectual I’ve ever met, and I mean that as a compliment. I don’t think there’s a man on Earth who wouldn’t enjoy a meal with him.”
9. Bourdain Market is attempting to convince street food vendors from around the world to move to NYC.
“You bring the people in who know what they’re doing and you let them do it. You bring in the guy who’s the best chicken-and-rice guy in Singapore and just let him do his thing.”
10. Bourdain believes Americans have become more open to diverse cuisines.
“People are lining up for food that would have burned their head clean off their shoulders ten years ago. People are craving and lining up to eat kimchi, which, you know, they would have bullied a kid for eating ten years earlier if they brought it with their lunch.”
11. Bourdain will either make his food hall a reality, or die trying.
“I feel in my bones this is a space that New Yorkers should be able to call their own, and I find myself in the ludicrous position of being able to make that happen, apparently. I’m going to fucking make it happen if I can, or fail gloriously...If it feels like a Todd English product, then we can all just go home and throw a noose over the fucking shower stall.”