Anthony Bourdain's 23 Essential Quotes on Food, Traveling, and Life
Anthony Bourdain was a man with an opinion.
He spoke his mind. He had balls and the brain to match. He had convictions. He held on to his worldview with a rigidity that was both refreshing and borderline revolutionary for someone in his position: he was a chef who spoke the hard, often brutal truths about his industry, a travel guide who cut through the sanitized, force-fed bullshit, a media icon who wasn't afraid to be criticized, ostracized, or demonized if it meant standing by his own words.
But for all his steadfast positions on everything from scrambled eggs to Guy Fieri, he held one belief, unwaveringly: He wanted to make the world a more inclusive place. He implored people -- Americans, specifically -- to give their comfort zones a well-deserved "fuck off." He embraced and celebrated the humanity present in every culture, in every region, in every hole-in-the-wall noodle shop in Singapore or Michelin starred restaurant in Pairs, equally. He poured enough life into his 61 years on this earth to inspire a generation to travel with passion. To eat with an appetite. To drink with a stranger. To love, to swear, to sweat, and above all, connect with our fellow human beings.
He was never afraid to challenge his own ignorance. He championed travel as not just a pastime but as a pathway to deeper empathy and understanding. At a time when genuine human connection and the willingness to embrace and understand the unfamiliar feels so fragile and fraught, the erasure of his voice is an unequivocal loss.
We lost one of the good guys today. He was a warrior. A champion of the undervalued and overserved. He was on our side. He was Sal Paradise with a point. Rick Steves with a mission. Martha Stewart with a pint glass (or two). He was real. He was raw. He was fearless.
And -- even if he might not have recognized it -- he was a teacher. It's these lessons that will continue to inspire, ignite, and challenge us to embrace the unknown. For everything he gave us during his brief but brilliant life, that is how we will remember him.
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1. "To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living."
2. "Under 'Reasons for Leaving Last Job,' never give the real reason, unless it's money or ambition."
3. "Your body is not a temple: It's an amusement park. Enjoy the ride."
4. "If I'm an advocate for anything, it's to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. Walk in someone else's shoes or at least eat their food. It's a plus for everybody."
5. "Skills can be taught. Character you either have or you don't have."
6. "Travel is about the gorgeous feeling of teetering in the unknown."
7. "Assume the worst. About everybody. But don't let this poisoned outlook affect your job performance. Let it all roll off your back. Ignore it. Be amused by what you see and suspect. Just because someone you work with is a miserable, treacherous, self-serving, capricious, and corrupt asshole shouldn't prevent you from enjoying their company, working with them, or finding them entertaining."
8. "I don't have to agree with you to like you or respect you."
9. "As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life -- and travel -- leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks -- on your body or on your heart -- are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt."
10. "The way you make an omelet reveals your character."
11. "It's very rarely a good career move to have a conscience."
12. "Basic cooking skills are a virtue... the ability to feed yourself and a few others with proficiency should be taught to every young man and woman as a fundamental skill. [It's] as vital to growing up as learning to wipe one's own ass, cross the street by oneself, or be trusted with money."
13. "Luck is not a business model."
14. "When dealing with complex transportation issues, the best thing to do is pull up with a cold beer and let somebody else figure it out."
15. "Without experimentation, a willingness to ask questions and try new things, we shall surely become static, repetitive, and moribund."
16. "Maybe that's enlightenment enough: to know that there is no final resting place of the mind; no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom... is realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go."
17. "There's something wonderful about drinking in the afternoon. A not-too-cold pint, absolutely alone at the bar -- even in this fake-ass Irish pub."
18. "I'm not afraid to look like an idiot."
19. "Without new ideas success can become stale."
20. "I learned a long time ago that trying to micromanage the perfect vacation is always a disaster. That leads to terrible times."
21. "I'm a big believer in winging it. I'm a big believer that you're never going to find perfect city travel experience or the perfect meal without a constant willingness to experience a bad one. Letting the happy accident happen is what a lot of vacation itineraries miss, I think, and I'm always trying to push people to allow those things to happen rather than stick to some rigid itinerary."
22. "Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s OK. The journey changes you; it should change you... You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind."
23. "It's been an adventure. We took some casualties over the years. Things got broken. Things got lost. But I wouldn't have missed it for the world."
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