SXSW: Anthony Bourdain

“I’ll go back to brunch, motherfucker. I don’t care.”

“I joke about ‘not giving a fuck’ as a good business model – but it’s true,” said Anthony Bourdain to a big laugh. The host of CNN’s Parts Unknown and unqualified rock star elucidated with an honest-to-goodness candor, built through his experiences and travels.

photo by Gary Miller

Interviewed by Nathan Thornburgh, co-founder of Roads & Kingdoms – a Brooklyn and Barcelona based digital media startup partly founded by Bourdain – the superstar spoke in his hilariously blue candidness about personal trials and the highs and lows of television production. Show clips from Parts Unknown – principally influenced by filmmakers Bourdain loves, like the Wong Kar-wai bend found in the dizzying Shanghai episode – provided tremendous color for the discussion.

After a clip of the Massachusetts episode – where he delved into his heroin addiction – the former Brasserie Les Halles (Manhattan) chef talked openly about his struggles and its relation to recently publicized drug addiction issues found in rural New England. To this he noted that his past, on display in his best-selling memoir Kitchen Confidential, actually led to his success, saying that he’s “never had a reputation to lose. It’s an advantage.” He claimed it assisted him with television executives: “I’ll go back to brunch, motherfucker. I don’t care.”

Not being tethered to potential judgment enables Bourdain to go for broke, in all contexts, especially concerning his strong liberal editorializing of Parts Unknown. Following the Gaza clip, where he’s asking particularly pointed questions to his subject concerning offensive anti-Arab graffiti, Bourdain explained his desire to cut through to the white meat. “Sometimes when you’re eating, you have to acknowledge the elephant in the room.” His process demands he steer toward “embracing the difficulty and gray area.”

True to his tenets, even acknowledging and embracing television as a manipulative medium – he aims to “[make] an artificial process less artificial” – he’ll never shoot toward the lean of the viewing public, saying, “that’s the road to madness.” Adding, “we know what people like. Every show would be about barbecue.”

Anthony Bourdain as Interviewed by Nathan Thornburgh

Sunday, March 13, Austin Convention Center

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

Sound on Sound Review: Car Seat Headrest
Sound on Sound Review: Car Seat Headrest
Slacker Pavement hooks meet James Murphy’s drollness

Doug Freeman, Nov. 6, 2016

ACL Review: Anderson Paak
ACL Review: Anderson Paak
Hip-hop/R&B fusionist takes an ATX victory lap

Alejandra Ramirez, Oct. 9, 2016

More by Kahron Spearman
Austin's Hip-Hop Pioneers, in Their Own Words
Austin's Hip-Hop Pioneers, in Their Own Words
The Austin History Center-archived rappers and industry innovators share stories

Sept. 15, 2023

The Prodigal Producer: Austin’s Malik Baptiste Comes Home
The Prodigal Producer: Austin’s Malik Baptiste Comes Home
Alchemical rapper returns from L.A. with 24-karat solo tracks

Sept. 8, 2023


Anthony Bourdain, SXSW, SXSW 2016, Parts Unknown

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Keep up with happenings around town

Kevin Curtin's bimonthly cannabis musings

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle