By Katie Duffin
Known for his candid attitude and unrivalled passion for food, throughout his lifetime Anthony Bourdain became one of the world’s most iconic chefs. On one side, his love for the culinary arts and will of adventure led him to all corners of the world, on the other, his sharp-witted writing quickly made him one of the most influential chefs of all time. As the world mourns his loss, we take a look at Bourdain’s extraordinary career and how cooking shaped his life
Born in 1956 in New York, Bourdain firstly fell in love with food after tasting vichyssoise whilst visiting his grandparents in France. He took up his first restaurant job as a teen, working as a dishwasher. In an interview on NPR’s Fresh Air, Bourdain jokes, “I learned every important lesson, all the most important lessons of my life, as a dishwasher,” referring to the military-style discipline he witnessed in the kitchen.
After graduating from high school, Bourdain studied at Vassar for two years before dropping out. It was at this point, in his twenties, that he first encountered heroin. Bourdain struggled with drug addiction throughout his life, particularly as a young adult. Speaking to Dave Davies on Fresh Air he says, “I should’ve died in my 20s,” however, his fervor for cooking helped put him on the right track.
In 1978, Bourdain graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, after which, he took a chef job working twelve hours per days, five to six days a week. Throughout the eighties and nineties, he worked his way up to become line cook and sous-chef at restaurants in the Northeast, before landing his position as executive chef at Brasserie Les Halles.
In 2000, at the age of forty-four, Anthony Bourdain rose to stardom after his book, “Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly,” became a best-seller. Following the success of “Kitchen Confidential”, Bourdain went on to write eleven more books, and plunged himself into the world of television. His first hit show, “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations,” aired in 2005 and earned him two Emmy Awards alongside dozens of nominations. His most recent series, “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” sees Bourdain combine food and travel to create a hard-hitting show, exploring the history and cultures of countries across the world. In the first episode of “Parts Unknown,” he describes all good travelers as “relentlessly curious without fear or prejudice” – an attitude that the world-renowned chef exercises expertly throughout.
In 2007, Bourdain married Ottavia Busia and welcomed his daughter, Ariane, the same year. He admits to Business Insider’s Richard Feloni:
“It’s such an understatement to say that having a kid changes your life. You’re just no longer the first person you think about or care about. You’re not the most important person in the room.”
With families in mind, Bourdain released his last cookbook, “Appetites” in 2016. Most of the recipes, if not all, were inspired by his travels. However, after years of globe-trotting and cooking for A-listers, Bourdain found a humble delight in cooking for family and friends. Unlike his other cookbooks, “Appetites” is a humble handbook filled with personal favourites from his own kitchen that brings cultures from all over the world into the home.
Let’s have a look at the tasty recipe for a Macau-Style Pork Chop Sandwich.
Macau-Style Pork Chop Sandwich
- 4 boneless pork rib chops or cutlets
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- ¼ cup Chinese rice wine
- ¼ cup black vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 4 garlic cloves peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon five-spice powder
- 1 tablespoon of dark brown sugar, packed
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1½ cups panko bread crumbs
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 cups peanut oil
- 8 slices white sandwich bread
- Chili paste
Pound the pork to ¼-inch thickness, using a meat mallet. If using a rolling pin, be sure to wrap the meat in plastic before whacking it.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, rice wine, vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, five-spice powder, and sugar. Place the pork in a sealed plastic bag or container and pour the marinade mixture over, turning the chops to ensure that they’re evenly coated. Seal the bag and refrigerate for 1-12 hours.
Remove the chops from the marinade and brush off the garlic. Beat the egg in a shallow bowl and place the flour and bread crumbs in separate bowls. Season the flour with salt and pepper. You may need to add a tablespoon of water to the beaten egg, to loosen its texture so that it adheres evenly to the meat.
To a large, heavy-bottom frying pan, add the peanut oil and heat over medium-high.
While the oil heats, dredge the chops in the flour, then in the egg and finally in the bread crumbs.
Test the oil with a pinch of bread crumbs. If they immediately sizzle, carefully slide the chops into the hot oil, working in batches if necessary to avoid overcrowding the pan and bringing down the temperature of the oil. Cook for about 5 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Remove the cooked chops from the oil and let drain on a lined sheet pan. Season lightly with salt.
Toast the bread until golden brown. Finally, assemble the sandwiches and serve with the chili paste alongside.
Besides sharing delicious recipes such as this one, Anthony Bourdain lived a life of curiosity and inspired so many of us across the world to venture that little bit deeper into the world of cooking. As news of his death passes, it is important to note that male suicide is currently the single biggest cause of death for men under the age of 45 in the UK. Mental health is something that many of us struggle with, and if you find yourself struggling with these kinds of thoughts, or suspect someone you know might be, it’s important to reach out to somebody for help. According to Mind, the majority of people who have experienced suicidal feelings go on to live fulfilling lives if they get the support they need – it’s just one conversation away.