Anthony Bourdain's Recipe for a Good Life

The globe-trotting chef talks to WebMD about his guilty pleasures, his health habits, and how becoming a father has changed him.

Medically Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on March 29, 2010
3 min read

I have yet to turn down food. Anywhere. I try very hard to be a good and grateful and appreciative guest. Chances are, the culture where I'm eating has been doing it longer and better than mine. I consider myself fortunate to be there, and try to act accordingly.

Things are much better now -- with fish markets, with the quality of food handling in general -- and the prospects of a restaurant meal. There is a sense of pride and raised expectations in kitchens now that didn’t exist when I started out. Eat in busy places with a menu that’s tightly focused with a real identity -- meaning they know what they’re good at and not trying to be everything to everybody -- and you’ll be fine. Specialization, a busy place, a visible sense of pride are good things to look for. A slow place with a big menu or "half price" deals or all-you-can-eat? Not so good.

Just a few. Nothing too serious. My crew -- who are more careful and fussy about street food, get sick more often -- almost invariably from the hotel buffet or Western-style businesses.

Lightly grilled warthog rectum. I avoid American fast food whenever I can. I never eat chicken McNuggets.



No resolutions. I'm realistic

KFC’s macaroni and cheese. I’m SO ashamed.

My mom was a good cook with a small but very decent repertoire of French and American classics. We ate at fairly adventurous restaurants for the time: Chinese, Japanese, Swedish. And of course, I spent summers in France, eating classic bistro and brasserie and home cooking.

You’re making a big mistake if you think you can get a surprise dinner off me. My refrigerator is empty. We're going out to dinner -- or calling out for pizza. I’m a New Yorker!

Well, other than AIDS, breast cancer, the obvious answers ... I think it’s disgraceful the rate of morbid obesity and type 2 diabetes among children in this country.


Fusion. And molecular gastronomy. [Spain’s star chef of El Bulli fame] Ferran Adrià is a genius. Chances are, the guy imitating him is NOT. As far as fusion, I’d more often than not eat authentic Thai rather than fake Thai.

I try to feed my daughter healthy things -- so she has the opportunity later to make her own choices. I quit smoking for her. Because I obviously can’t smoke around her. And because -- while dying early was once my own prerogative -- I now feel an obligation as a 51-year-old new dad to at least try and be around for her a bit longer. Beyond that? My feeling is you’re on your own.

A beach, a palm tree, pile of books, and a beer.

Originally published in the January/February 2008 issue ofWebMD the Magazine.