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Anthony Bourdain Quotes That Will Inspire You

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Pierce Alquist

Senior Contributor

Pierce Alquist is a transplanted New Yorker living and working in the publishing scene in Boston. Don’t worry if she fooled you, the red hair is misleading. She’s a literature in translation devotee and reviewer and lover of small, independent presses. A voracious traveler and foodie, you can find her in her kitchen making borscht or covered in red pepper paste as she perfects her kimchi recipe.

Few people have touched hearts and minds like Anthony Bourdain, chef, author, and world traveler. I know I’m not alone when I say that I miss him—his wit, his wisdom, his honesty, his generosity, his unfailing kindness—but the impact of his life on mine and the world over still goes on. And in that vein, I hope these Anthony Bourdain quotes will inspire you to travel more, eat bravely, and live a life with no reservations.

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Anthony Bourdain Quotes About Travel

“Do we really want to travel in hermetically sealed popemobiles through the rural provinces of France, Mexico and the Far East, eating only in Hard Rock Cafés and McDonalds? Or do we want to eat without fear, tearing into the local stew, the humble taqueria’s mystery meat, the sincerely offered gift of a lightly grilled fish head? I know what I want. I want it all. I want to try everything once.” —Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly


“Travel changes you. 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.” —The Nasty Bits: Collected Varietal Cuts, Usable Trim, Scraps, and Bones


“If you’re twenty-two, physically fit, hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel—as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them— wherever you go.” —Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook


“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. 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.” —No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach


“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.” —Cook’s Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines


“It’s an irritating reality that many places and events defy description. Angkor Wat and Machu Picchu, for instance, seem to demand silence, like a love affair you can never talk about. For a while after, you fumble for words, trying vainly to assemble a private narrative, an explanation, a comfortable way to frame where you’ve been and what’s happened. In the end, you’re just happy you were there—with your eyes open—and lived to see it.” —The Nasty Bits: Collected Varietal Cuts, Usable Trim, Scraps, and Bones


Anthony Bourdain Quotes About Food

“Good food is very often, even most often, simple food.” —Kitchen Confidential


“Food, it appeared, could be important. It could be an event. It had secrets.” —Kitchen Confidential


“I’ve long believed that good food, good eating, is all about risk. Whether we’re talking about unpasteurized Stilton, raw oysters or working for organized crime ‘associates,’ food, for me, has always been an adventure” —Kitchen Confidential


“Don’t touch my dick, don’t touch my knife.” —Kitchen Confidential


“Your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.” —Kitchen Confidential


“An ounce of sauce covers a multitude of sins.” —Kitchen Confidential


“Toast your goddamn muffins.” —Appetites: A Cookbook


“People confuse me. Food doesn’t.” —Kitchen Confidential

Anthony Bourdain Quotes About Life

“I am not a fan of people who abuse service staff. In fact, I find it intolerable. It’s an unpardonable sin as far as I’m concerned, taking out personal business or some other kind of dissatisfaction on a waiter or busboy.” —Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook


“Skills can be taught. Character you either have or you don’t have.” —Kitchen Confidential


“It’s very rarely a good career move to have a conscience.” —Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook


“Don’t lie about it. You made a mistake. Admit it and move on. Just don’t do it again. Ever.” —Kitchen Confidential


“And I’m not going to tell you here how to live your life. I’m just saying, I guess, that I got very lucky. And luck is not a business model.” —Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook

Hungry for more of Anthony Bourdain’s trademark brand of keen insight and snark? Check out The Essential Anthony Bourdain Reading List.