'It's a Dream Job': Anthony Bourdain's Worldwide Search for Great Food

There's no corner of the globe too remote. No dish too disgusting to try … just once. No drink with too great an after burn.

That's the concept of Anthony Bourdain's phenomenally successful show "No Reservations" on the Travel Channel.

"For me, it's that confluence of events, when I can live my life like a Graham Green character," said Bourdain. "When I can lose myself in the film, I kind of always wanted to be in."

"You know it's a dream job," he said. "I'm getting used to it."

When "Nightline" first met Bourdain seven years ago, he was head chef at Les Halles in New York.

He had just published "Kitchen Confidential" based on an article he wrote for the New Yorker magazine — a chef's-eye view of the New York restaurant scene. It was the sort of best-seller that makes you think twice about dining out.

"Many restaurants save up their table butter, used table butter, you know a big crock of softened butter that they take out of your, little, you know, butter at the table. They'll heat it up, strain out the cigarette butts and the bread crumbs, and use that for the Hollandaise," Bourdain told "Nightline" in 2000.

Seven Crucial Years


A lot has changed for Bourdain, "pretty much overnight." He's no longer the bad boy of the restaurant scene.

Now the same man whose book warned people to avoid restaurants with dirty bathrooms is going off to Uzbekistan, where there is no bathroom.

"I was so wrong about so many things," Bourdain said. "I regret saying you should check out the bathroom and if the bathroom's filthy … many of the best meals in my life have been in absolutely septic environments, with chickens and pigs running around on the floor."

From Marco Pierre White to Marco Polo in seven short years, this master chef has now become an adventurous traveler. Bourdain is now a bona fide food celebrity. And as a guest judge on "Top Chef," he's become the Simon Cowell of food television.

"The lobster had the texture of doll head," he said on one episode. "In prison you couldn't serve it. It was wretched. We're talking cat food territory. That, that dry."

He not only has fans, he has groupies. It's not uncommon for people to approach him on the street just to tell him that he's "awesome," or in the case of one woman, to hand him a rose.

"Nightline" caught up with him in Austin, Texas.

'I'm More Comfortable in Singapore'

Bourdain has spent so much time traveling abroad that Texas is now almost a foreign country to him.

"It's a good thing it's Austin. Because if you're going to be in Texas, Austin is a good place to be," Bourdain said. "I was kind of freaked out when I first started to see my own country. When I'd go out on a book tour and I come to places like Texas. I come with all the New York prejudices. I think it took, you know, I realized I'm more comfortable in Singapore at this point, it's a lot less strange to me than Texas."

Perhaps that's why he recently took "No Reservations" to Cleveland where he observed surfing on Lake Erie, visited the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame and dared to taste the fructose syrup that still flows through the rusty pipes of a now-defunct Twinkie factory.

Bourdain's guide at the time told him he's a brave man: "The flies won't go near it.The mice and rats wouldn't go near it. How is it? Is it still sweet and succulent?"

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