I believe Anthony Bourdain is to be put on a pedestal and worshiped as one of the most interesting and inspiring Foodies who travels to eat (second on my list would be Alton Brown for his Feasting on Asphalt series) for the following reasons:
1) He is a trained Chef who actually COOKED most of his life producing terrific and memorable dishes and perfecting his craft. He knows a professional kitchen and what it takes to run one and cook in one . . .day in and day out. He's got skills.
2) He had the guts to want to be more than just a Chef and the courage to believe he might actually have something memorable, interesting and humorous to say about his profession, which he certainly did starting with his book Kitchen Confidential. (Can you image how many times he must have second-guessed himself when writing that first book? Will people like me? Perhaps, I am just a Chef fooling myself? Am I a good enough writer? Trust me, it is tough to one day wake up and call yourself a writer. It takes guts.)
3) He has a sense of adventure . . .in his travel, his ability to eat or try anything placed in front of him and generally in his outlook on life (switching careers, smoking, tattoos, roller derby). As a FOODIE, he makes me want to get out of my armchair and go with him to the farthest reaches of the world to understand their culture and traditions around food. I want to think and believe that I also would have the ability to at least try anything placed in front of me that was cooked by human hands for my pleasure and enjoyment. His show "No Reservations" on the Travel Channel is an extension of his philosophy and relationship with food and how it continues to change his life. He is presenting it to us to accept or reject . . .but it is his view of how diverse the foodie world can be.
4) His personality does not strike me as egotistical, it strikes me as honest. I think Anthony wants to try (as much as he can) to continue to be true to himself and his opinions on what is going on in the world of food. It is part of his personality and it of course, infuses his public persona as well. It must get very difficult with agents, handlers and TV censors to really say what you think and have the courage to stand behind your opinions in such a public way. Anthony does not strike me as a "hater" of the food biz and those people in it. How hypocritical would that be considering he is one participating in that frenzy as well? I think he would be one of the first one to admit that to us. I think when he says what he says, it is with the intent to be honest and true to himself and to all of us. Frankly, I agree with him on Rachel Ray and others. I don't want all of my food entertainment to be sugar-coated and EVOO spoon-fed. I want to see some grit, I want to see some raw foodie experiences as well. Anthony delivers.
5) He is not following the cookie-cutter, celebrity chef formula to achieve his success. He it choosing to do in on his own terms, using skills he believes he has and clearly enjoys - writing and traveling etc. If he were interested in following the pack he would have his own line of Cooking with the Rock Stars cookbooks, he would have a cooking show on probably on MTV, he would own one funky little restaurant and one French coffee shop and bakery in NYC and be opening a new place at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas. He would have his own brand of cigarette's and be hocking plain black T-shirts for the Gap while he was quietly working with a designer on developing his own clothing line called "DIS-DAIN". He would be working on taking over David Letterman's spot on night-time TV, and with that voice he would be looking to start his own satellite radio station and finally he would star in his own rock and roll band. To my knowledge he has done, none of those things.
Like him or not. He is REAL. And he might be one of the best things to happen to this whole "celebrity chef-dom" phenom . . .Rock on Anthony, rock on!