Anthony Bourdain was a storyteller, TV personality, chef, writer, and much more. He was passionate about his work, about life, and his tragic end didn’t quite finish his story.
Instead, there are many things we can still learn from the famed American. And of course, whenever you want to travel and enjoy some exquisite cuisines, you can return to his five-year-old show Parts Unknown.
Or, grab one of Bourdain’s many books, as his writing was, just like the man himself, nothing short of extraordinary.
His sharp mind can also inspire you since he had a way with words, so his quotes are quite encouraging, simplistic, yet honest.
We can’t serve you any of Tony’s famous specialties, but we can give you 30 of his most valuable quotes.
Bourdain on traveling
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. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.
This saying is about life, love, and everything that makes your day. So, traveling is a metaphor, but isn’t life a journey?
I learned a long time ago that trying to micromanage the perfect vacation is always a disaster. That leads to terrible times.
Travel is about the gorgeous feeling of teetering in the unknown.
Most of us fear the unknown. But, can you really achieve anything without confronting your fears?
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.
The journey is part of the experience — an expression of the seriousness of one’s intent. One doesn’t take the A train to Mecca.
Without experimentation, a willingness to ask questions and try new things, we shall surely become static, repetitive, and moribund.
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 a**hole shouldn’t prevent you from enjoying their company, working with them, or finding them entertaining.
You can try to fight it, but wouldn’t it be better to find amusement even if your job sucks or people around you act like a-holes? Don’t change yourself; change the perspective.
Skills can be taught. Character you either have or you don’t have.
I’m a big believer in winging it. I’m a big believer that you’re never going to find a 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.
There’s no way you will always experience joy or even make the right decisions. But, to find whatever is that you’re looking for, embrace all of it. Even the bad things.
Without new ideas, success can become stale.
The way you eat your omelet…
Your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.
Simply, explore, experience, and enjoy. Life, your food, good wine, love.
You learn a lot about someone when you share a meal together.
Cooking is a craft, I like to think, and a good cook is a craftsman — not an artist. There’s nothing wrong with that: The great cathedrals of Europe were built by craftsmen — though not designed by them. Practicing your craft in expert fashion is noble, honorable, and satisfying.
Your mark on this world doesn’t have to be enormous. But, what truly matters is to find your passions. And for the late chef, everything started with food.
The way you make an omelet reveals your character.
To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living.
Cream rises. Excellence does have its rewards.
Is it really about the cream? For Mr. Bourdain, it was, but what it might be for you, well, that’s up to you.
I’m not afraid to look like a big, hairy, smelly, foreign devil in Tokyo, though I do my best not to, I really do.
I’m very type-A, and many things in my life are about control and domination, but eating should be a submissive experience, where you let down your guard and enjoy the ride.
Find what you want
I can unload my opinion on anybody at any time.
What are our expectations? Which of the things we desire are within reach? If not now, when? And will there be some left for me?
If you don’t go after what you want, who will? And will it be too late later?
Don’t lie about it. You made a mistake. Admit it and move on. Just don’t do it again. Ever.
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.
We’re all living on a limited time. So, let’s stop questioning every little detail because there might not be the right answer. Why waste time?
I don’t have to agree with you to like you or respect you.
I always entertain the notion that I’m wrong, or that I’ll have to revise my opinion. Most of the time that feels good; sometimes it really hurts and is embarrassing.
Bourdain on Bourdain
Luck is not a business model.
Some will say that the chef was fortunate enough to be in the right place, and so on. But, this is his reminder that his success came with a lot of effort.
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.
I’m not afraid to look like an idiot.
I’m not going anywhere. I hope. 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.
Nothing is always rosy, but there’s hope. And there’s that thing you want to do because you feel it will make you a better person. You’re not perfect; life isn’t as well. But there’s always hope.
When I die, I will decidedly not be regretting missed opportunities for a good time. My regrets will be more along the lines of a sad list of people hurt, people let down, assets wasted, and advantages squandered.
Sadly, Bourdain left us way before his time. Or perhaps, it was his time; we can’t get into that. However, his message was clear: if you can do it, don’t hesitate. If you can love someone, love them, or if you have to leave, say goodbye.
But, make peace with regrets, because no matter what, you’ll have them.
I wanted kicks — the kind of melodramatic thrills and chills I’d yearned for since childhood, the kind of adventure I’d found as a little boy in the pages of my Tintin comic books.