Anthony Bourdain was a true non-conformist. An artist, a chef, and a writer who took pleasure in never following the traditional blueprint for success. For a personality who first shot to fame as a TV chef, there was always more to Bourdain than the rest of the pack, and through Parts Unknown, we got to understand the man and offered a view of the world through his explorative lens.
There was an affable charm to Bourdain that made you immediately warm to his character, and his programme was simply heads and shoulders above any other travel offering of the time. Bourdain always made sure to get under the skin of whatever part of the world he found himself. Rather than visiting the usual tourist spots, Bourdain got stuck into the real people and real culture, he brought to our screens the beating heart of the city and its people.
However, it wasn’t just professionally that Bourdain adopted an authentic approach; he carried himself with integrity in every walk of his life. He championed counter-culture in every aspect, and his punk credentials and aptitude for dispelling antipathy truly knew no limits. Bourdain’s love of music has been well documented, but the adoration was reciprocal.
Bourdain drew comparisons between the life of the New York Punk movement and his work as a chef at that time. They both walked the streets at night to bring culture to New York City. He stoked up friendships with burgeoning names of the scene, and throughout his life, musicians saw Bourdain as a kindred spirit. The acclaimed chef was a person they could relate to, and the place he occupied in their hearts has never been filled since he sadly departed us in 2018.
Here, we look back at the friendships that Bourdain built throughout his life and what these famous faces thought of the man that provided us with a pure, unfiltered look at the world through his wandering eyes.
Anthony Bourdain’s friends:
British-American duo, The Kills, which comprises Alisson Mosshart and Jamie Hince, occupied a significant place in Bourdain’s heart and his record collection.
Both group members make cameos in Parts Unknown, with Bourdain making a stop at Mosshart’s home in Nashville for some home cooking. Meanwhile, Hince showed him around some of his favourite watering holes in London town and whisked the chef off to a spot of Jamaican food.
“I mean, he was a very, very special guy,” Mosshart told Stereogum in 2020. That show — I mean, the body of work that is Parts Unknown. Well, actually, everything he’s done. It’s amazing. It’s very, very unique. Very cool. It’s kind of the best of its kind in that a lot of people have tried to do something similar, and it doesn’t work without the guy. You know? It was him.”
When Bourdain ventured to Phoenix, Arizona, there was one place that he needed to tick off his bucket list, and that’s Cooper’s Town. When Alice Cooper isn’t shocking audiences with his exploits on stage, there’s a good chance that you’ll find him watching the game at his very own sports bar.
The two men chewed the fat at the bar about their mutual love of baseball, and there was a clear affinity between the duo. Following Bourdain’s passing, Cooper tweeted: “He was a rock’n’roll guy, he definitely should’ve been in the band.”
Adding: “He made it actually cool to be a foodie. May he rest in peace.”
The parallels between the lives of Marky Ramone and Anthony Bourdain are clear for all to see. They both threw caution to the wind, channelled their cavalier spirit, and left a glorious stain on the culture of New York that is embedded in the history of the city forever.
Bourdain was even invited to appear in Joey Ramone’s posthumously released track, ‘New York City’, in 2012. This appearance came after he visited Cleveland in 2007 for No Reservations and hit up the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame with Marky Ramone. The two were friends for almost 20 years, they often met, and their love of music and food meant that the conversation never grew tired.
“When we talked about music, he’d tell me about how he used to hang around CBGBs,” the drummer eulogised in Rolling Stone. “He loved the whole atmosphere of the place and the political connotations of the whole movement. We talked about how we liked the same music – Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers, the Dolls, the Ramones, Blondie, the Pistols – and he despised right-wing, conservative fanaticism.
“He was a true punk. I mean, look, he did what he did. He tried to maintain a lifestyle without all that garbage in his system, but it was very hard,” Ramone added. “I always knew there was some kind of edginess in him. But then again, when you do things like [drugs] for part of your life, a lot of times it stays with you. It’s hard to get rid of. I mean, I can relate to it because I had my demons.”
If you’re ever in Miami, the one person you want to show you around is Iggy Pop. However, for the likes of you and me, that’s nothing but a pipedream, yet, for Anthony Bourdain, it was a reality.
Iggy has a presence to him, and following the encounter, Bourdain wrote: “Of all the people I’ve met, I’ve never been more intimidated, more anxious, more starstruck than when I met Iggy Pop.”
Bourdain left an impression on Iggy, who mournfully wrote after his death, “I’m in shock having just heard that Anthony Bourdain has passed away. I loved the guy, and he was a light of kindness and good vibes in my life.”
Queens Of The Stone Age’s leader Josh Homme was more than just an acquaintance who Bourdain would catch up with if he were in town, they were close friends, and Homme even provided the soundtrack for Parts Unknown.
Perhaps the best summary of their kinship is the letter that the chef cooked up for Homme’s daughter, Camile, in 2011, which the singer shared after Bourdain’s passing. She was upset after seeing him smash up a guitar on No Reservations, which was made to look like it belonged to her father, and he took time out to reassure her it was merely a prop.
“That this was, in fact, a not so subtle reference to the early works of John Landis and John Belushi is something you could hardly have been expected to know, Animal House having been released long before you were born, and I apologise,” Bourdain wrote.
Bourdain’s letter then detailed his respect for Homme. “I like your Daddy so much, that when an obnoxious superfan of mine… got in your Daddy’s face — had your Daddy not gently guided him by the thorax to the welcoming arms of security — I would have broken my beer glass across the man’s skull and then jabbed the jagged remnants into his fucking neck. That’s the kind of guy I am. I had your Daddy’s back — just like he had mine. You will learn about these things later — possibly in grammar school.”
Captioning the letter, Homme wrote: “Tony, I miss you bad. Once, Camille was so mad at you. She was defending me. & So were you. Defending me. As we had done & would do many times over the years for each other. & you, with great care, such empathy, such sweetness… you apologised to a little girl who was defending her daddy. Ariane, this was your father. Humbly yours, Joshua.”