Chef Anthony Bourdain
After working in the restaurant business for nearly three decades, Anthony says he began to suffer from "fine-dining exhaustion." These days, he says his quest is primarily focused on simpler fare. "If you look where chefs go after work, we're looking for simple, honest food—anybody's grandmother's food—or just really simple, pretense-free, one-chef, one-dish joints."
That's not to say Anthony's taste buds don't crave excitement. His food escapades have taken him to faraway places such as the Namibian desert, Vietnam and Russia, where he's eaten things like the still-beating heart of a cobra, warthog anus and seal eyeballs. Still, Anthony says he doesn't seek out the grotesque on purpose. Rather, eating local foods is his way of showing an appreciation for his hosts and their culture.
In return for his brave palate, Anthony says locals embrace him in a way that would not be otherwise possible. "People open up in such extraordinary ways," he says. "I've eaten with former Khmer Rouge, former Viet Cong, Russian gangsters, very formal Japanese situations where I never would have broken through—the iron gates would have come down had I turned down that 14th shot of vodka or the seal eyeball!"
When it comes to his own restaurant—New York's famed bistro Les Halles—Anthony says he's proud that there isn't a single original recipe on the menu. Instead, he says the restaurant dishes up classic French cuisine that would make any Frenchman feel right at home. "Frenchmen are very happy and even on occasion tear up in our restaurant," Anthony says. "Homesick Frenchmen like that—we aspire to nothing more than that."