Five Things You Didn’t Know About Anthony Bourdain

The globetrotting chef and host of Parts Unknown returns to the Bay State for a Symphony Hall appearance this month.

anthony bourdain boston

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Anthony Bourdain’s career may have taken him all over the world, but it began right here in Massachusetts. So it’s fitting that the Parts Unknown star is kicking off his new tour in Boston on October 7, followed by stops at Foxwoods and in Portland, Maine. Ahead, Bourdain reminisces about his “golden years” on the Cape in the ’70s, weighs in on New England comfort-food classics, and dishes about eating Vietnamese street food with President Obama.

1. He broke into the culinary world with a summer dishwashing job in Provincetown.

“These were kitchens where everybody smoked while they cooked and everybody drank heavily throughout the shift. Everybody stole. It was a very different world. But I look back on it with a lot of affection.”

2. That job inspired him to drop out of Vassar and become a chef.

“A lot of the important moments in my early cooking career that motivated me to go to the Culinary Institute and motivated me to cook at all, and then later motivated me to cook better—all of that started in Massachusetts.”

3. He’s appalled by the New York Daily News’s dismissal of lobster rolls as “overrated.”

“I have no idea what motivated them to say such a stupid thing. How could you hate a properly made lobster roll? Any chef, any Frenchman, anyone who loves food would appreciate it for its merits.”

4. He wouldn’t eat a McDonald’s lobster roll, though.

“No. I mean, that’s just wrong.”

5. He was surprised Obama agreed to do Parts Unknown at a “shabby, family-run restaurant” in Vietnam.

“To see the president of the United States on a low plastic stool drinking Hanoi beer from the bottle and eating bún cha with chopsticks, as much fun as it was for me and my crew, the effect on ordinary Vietnamese from Hanoi the next day was absolutely electric. People were coming up to me in the street literally crying with gratitude and surprise that the president of the free world had chosen to eat this specifically Hanoi dish.”