In an interview published just five days before his sudden death, Anthony Bourdain, host of CNN’s Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, revealed his three biggest passions: film, food and his love for actress Asia Argento.
CNN’s Parts Unknown, which Bourdain hosted for five years, is greatly influenced by the former Les Halles chef’s love for film. He remarked to Indiewire, which published the interview, “It’s always been, to one extent or another, a stealth food show. We pretend it’s about food. It rarely is. We always talk about films first, before we head to a location, for visual cues, for sound, for editing. We love nothing more than duping, emulating, or riffing on a film that few of our audiences have actually seen.”
The show gave the chef a chance to indulge in some of his greatest passions and most of the shows were indirectly an homage to a film that inspired Bourdain at some point in his life. Indiewire revealed that the chef was a fan of Wong Kar-wai movies and sampled clips from the films Chungking Express and In the Mood for Love in the episodes where he was seen touring and eating around Hong Kong. “That’s the fun part of making the show — getting to make small, cheap versions or homages to things that we love,” he said.
Bourdain wrote in his book Kitchen Confidential that his love of food was inspired in his youth while on a family vacation in France after trying his first oyster on an oyster fisherman’s boat. After attending Vassar College where he dropped out after two years, he began to pursue restaurant work in Massachusetts before attending the Culinary Institute of America, graduating in 1978. Bourdain made his way to New York where he worked in several restaurants before being named Executive Chef at Brasserie Les Halles.
Since 2016, Bourdain was in a relationship with actress and filmmaker Asia Argento. The couple met when she appeared on his CNN’s series’ eighth season. Asia continues to be one of the most outspoken critics of Harvey Weinstein after suffering sexual abuse at the hands of the producer. She is also at the forefront of the #MeToo movement.
For Bourdain, he was thrilled with the opportunity to work with his girlfriend on the newest season of Parts Unknown as she took the helm to direct several episodes. “Look, anytime I can get work out of Asia — even random suggestions, like when she calls me mid-show to make me aware of a Nigerian psychedelic rock scene of the mid-to-late-’70s — that’s a huge help to the show,” he said at the time. “I’d love to have her a continuing director. I just don’t think we can afford her. But, my god, I’d love nothing more than to repeat the experience. She made it incredible.”
Bourdain touched a nerve with viewers was not only his ability to take them visually to places they had never been but also to teach viewers about the people of an area. “I’m there to listen,” he said to Indiewire.
“I don’t go in asking hard-news questions, but incredibly enough, again and again, just by sitting down with people over food and giving them a platform where I can listen to them, they say extraordinary things that can be very political in their implications.”
Anthony Bourdain was found dead in his hotel room on June 6, 2018, of an apparent suicide, according to E!. He was working on a new episode in Strasbourg, France, when he took his own life. Bourdain’s close friend, French chef Eric Ripert, found Bourdain unresponsive in his hotel room.
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