Anthony Bourdain opens up about his 'happiest moments' in posthumous interview

Anthony Bourdain opened up about what makes him happy and raising his daughter, Ariane, in an intimate interview before his death.

The late chef spoke to Maria Bustillos from the magazine Popula last February, and the lengthy interview was published on Sunday. In June, Bourdain was found dead in a French hotel, with his death later being ruled a suicide. He was 61 years old.

In the interview, Bourdain discussed his philosophy on travel and life, including why putting roots down in one place was not for him -- though the issue was never about money.

"I’m not materialist… look, I like expensive plumbing, I like a really nice hotel room, especially after I’ve been staying  in some really rough ones," he clarified. "The way I acquire things has really changed over the years; maybe that’s a function of age, and two marriages. I know very much what won’t make me happy. The perfect car will not make me happy. The perfect house will probably make me sad, and terrified."

"Well, because… a house is a commitment, you know?" he continued. "You have to take care of it. It’s like any beautiful thing you have to maintain and protect. And then you also have to consider who gets it after you’re gone. And so even books and records, which I… books in particular, I have a lot of books that I really love. When I acquire one that I really love it’s difficult for me, because I think about… who does one pass this on to? Even works of art, things like that; who will appreciate it the same way? You cannot take it with you. You know?"

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Chef Anthony Bourdain through the years
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Chef Anthony Bourdain through the years
UNITED STATES - APRIL 12: Chef Anthony Bourdain has a drink at Tintol restaurant in Times Square. Bourdain, 49, is the star of 'Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations,' the Travel Channel series that's half travelogue and half food show. Traveling constantly for the show, on which he regularly grosses viewers out by eating such delicacies as fermented shark meat in Iceland - 'the smell alone would stop a rhinoceros in its tracks,' he says - means he's only in his Manhattan apartment a few days out of the month. (Photo by James Keivom/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
(AUSTRALIA & NEW ZEALAND OUT) Chef Anthony Bourdain, 27 October 2003. AFR Picture by MICHELE MOSSOP (Photo by Fairfax Media via Getty Images)
MIAMI BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 26: Chef Anthony Bourdain does a cooking demonstration at the South Beach Food And Wine Festival on February 26, 2005 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - APRIL 21: Chef Tom Colicchio and TV personality Anthony Bourdain attend the Food Bank For New York City's Sixth Annual Can-Do Awards at Abigail Kirsch's Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers on April 21, 2009 in New York City (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/WireImage for BWR)
MIAMI BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 28: Eric Ripert and Anthony Bourdain attend the 2010 South Beach Wine and Food Festival Grand Tasting Village on February 28, 2010 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images)
MIAMI BEACH, FL - JUNE 30: Anthony Bourdain discusses his book 'Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook' presented by Books and Books at Lincoln Theatre on June 30, 2010 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images)
TOP CHEF -- 'An Offer They Can't Refuse' Episode 808 -- Pictured: (l-r) Jduges Tom Colicchio, Anthony Bourdain (Photo by David Giesbrecht/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Anthony Bourdain attends the Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village during the 2011 South Beach Wine and Food Festival on February 27, 2011 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by John Parra/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 19: TV personality Anthony Bourdain attends the Great Googa Mooga 2012 at Prospect Park on May 19, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images)
LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 650 -- Pictured: (l-r) Anthony Bourdain, Jimmy Fallon -- (Photo by: Ira James/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
THE TASTE - ABC's 'The Taste' features no-holds barred chef Anthony Bourdain. (Photo by Sasha Shemirani/ABC via Getty Images)
PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 10: Anthony Bourdain attends the Disney ABC Television Group 2013 TCA Winter Press Tour at The Langham Huntington Hotel and Spa on January 10, 2013 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
MIAMI BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 23: Anthony Bourdain attends the South Beach Wine and Food Festival 2013 Grand Tasting Village on February 23, 2013 in Miami Beach, Florida. (Photo by John Parra/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 02: Anthony Bourdain signs his book at Hey New York: Meet Anthony Bourdain + Eric Ripert book signing event for his book 'Appetites: A Cookbook' at Williams-Sonoma Columbus Circle on December 2, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Owen Hoffmann/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - NOVEMBER 10: TV personality Anthony Bourdain attends 'Parts Unknown Last Bite' Live CNN Talk Show hosted by Anthony Bourdain at Atomic Liquors on November 10, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. 24280_001_0026.JPG (Photo by Isaac Brekken/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 10: (L-R) Senior vice president for talent and content development Amy Entelis, Anthony Bourdain and Senior vice president of development and acquisitions Vinnie Malhotra attend the CNN Upfront 2014 at Skylight Modern on April 10, 2014 in New York City. 24679_002_0417.JPG (Photo by Bryan Bedder/WireImage for Turner Networks)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0657 -- Pictured: (l-r) Author/Chef Anthony Bourdain and host Jimmy Fallon during an interview on April 19, 2017 -- (Photo by: Andrew Lipovsky/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 04: Chef, Author and TV Personality Anthony Bourdain attends The 2015 Bronx Academy Of Letters Chefs' Tasting Benefit at The Edison Ballroom on March 4, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Ben Hider/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 02: (L-R) Chef Mario Batali, Artist Shantell Martin, and Chef Anthony Bourdain attend The (RED) Supper hosted by Mario Batali with Anthony Bourdain on June 2, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 12: Anthony Bourdain attends the 2015 Creative Arts Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 12, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 08: Author/chef Anthony Bourdain attends the 2015 Center For Fiction Benefit & Awards at The Metropolitan Club on December 8, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Mireya Acierto/Getty Images)
Anthony Bourdain poses with the outstanding informational series or special award for "Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown" backstage at the 2015 Creative Arts Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, California September 12, 2015. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok
REFILE-QUALITY REPEAT U.S. President Barack Obama talks with Anthony Bourdain after an interview at a shopping area of Hanoi, Vietnam May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 12: Anthony Bourdain and Asia Argento attend the 2018 Women In The World Summit at David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center on April 12, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Bruinooge/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 18:Anthony Bourdain is seen in midtown on January 18, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Raymond Hall/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 09: Asia Argento and Anthony Bourdain attend the 2017 Creative Arts Emmy Awards at Microsoft Theater on September 9, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 19: Anthony Bourdain attends Build Series Presents discussing The New Documentary 'Jeremiah Tower: The Last Magnificent'at Build Studio on April 19, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Steve Mack/FilmMagic)
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Above all, Bourdain valued a sense of freedom.

"As much as I look at houses sometimes and think wow, that would be really nice, if that were my house, I know that I would be miserable," he noted. "It would be… cleaning out the… the gutters, and you know, what about the pipes freezing, and if you own a home it means you have to vacation in the same place every year. I’m a renter by nature. I like the freedom to change my mind about where I want to be in six months, or a year. Because I’ve also found you might have to make that decision… you can’t always make that decision for yourself, you know… sh** happens."

"I don’t feel complicit; I think money is sh**," he added. "You know… how much you spend on a thing… If I spend a couple thousand dollars on sushi for two, I don’t feel guilty about that."

Bourdain added, "I do find that my happiest moments on the road are not standing on the balcony of a really nice hotel. That’s a sort of bittersweet -- if not melancholy --alienating experience, at best."

Instead, Bourdain said his best moments while filming generally didn't involve lots of money or the most fancy lodgings.

"My happiest moments on the road are always off-camera, generally with my crew, coming back from shooting a scene and finding ourselves in this sort of absurdly beautiful moment, you know, laying on a flatbed on those things that go on the railroad track, with a putt-putt motor, goin’ across like, the rice paddies in Cambodia with headphones on," he described. "This is luxury, because I could never have imagined having the freedom or the ability to find myself in such a place, looking at such things."

"To sit alone or with a few friends, half-drunk under a full moon, you just understand how lucky you are; it’s a story you can’t tell," he continued. "It’s a story you almost by definition, can’t share. I’ve learned in real time to look at those things and realize: I just had a really good moment."

Bourdain also opened up about his 11-year-old daughter, Ariane.

"[My girlfriend] Asia said this to me, 'Children create themselves independently of us,'" he shared. "All you can do is show, like in my case, my daughter feels loved. She knows she’s loved. She has good self-esteem. Very important. And good martial arts skills. So no man, no boy ... can get the better of her. She knows she can take any boy in her age group. That’s all I can do as a father. I can’t pick all of the things that, you know. I can’t. She's so far… ahead of me, I can’t pick her music, her boyfriends, whatever, however she’s going to turn out. I can give her these basic things."

"I think how resolute she is, how much she wants to change the world, is willing to sacrifice in order to change the world, that’s gonna have to come from within," he further noted.

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Anthony Bourdain books
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As for his girlfriend, Asia Argento, Bourdain happily acknowledged at the time that he was in love. When Bustillos thanked him for being a "hero to women" for his outspokenness, especially when it came to disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein -- who Argento has publicly accused of sexually assaulting her, which Weinstein has denied -- Bourdain was humble.

"No really and truly not at all, I’m just a guy who saw what his girlfriend and her friends uh… you know. I saw a lot," he responded.

"I grew up sort of, you know, in a really post-hippie time, you know, where people were learning to say yes," he also shared about his own background. "You know, I went to a women’s university, surrounded by women, I started my career in Provincetown which is 90 percent gay, and whatever mentality or ethos existed in my early kitchens, most of which were in the West Village (an important distinction) it was very, yes, it was very sexually liberated, everybody slept with everybody, but it was also not a thing -- you don’t hit on women, not because of any ethical consideration, but because that wasn’t cool! That was just not -- that what the football team did."

"Sports, fu**ing hated them," he also said at one point. "Always hated sports. Again, it goes back to that '60s thing… I just wanna f**king survive. I don’t need to be number one. I don’t need to beat the fu** out of somebody. I don’t need to be ahead. I just want to still be here at the end of the f**kin’ day, doing what I’m doing, without anybody hassling me."

According to Manhattan Surrogate Court documents obtained by ET earlier this month, the bulk of the Parts Unknown host’s $1.21 million estate is going to Ariane. Bourdain’s estranged wife, Ottavia Busia-Bourdain, was chosen as the executor of his estate, and he left her all his “personal and household effects” to “dispose of in accordance with what (she) believes to have been my wishes.” 

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The best lessons Anthony Bourdain taught us about food
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The best lessons Anthony Bourdain taught us about food

 

When it comes to food, looks aren't everything

Sure, he’s eaten at some of the world’s finest restaurants, where plating is everything (one of his top spots was Per Se in New York—tapioca “sabayon” with oysters and caviar, anyone?), but Anthony Bourdain was no snob when it came to appearance. As he told Food & Wine, “some of the most inherently delicious food has been pickled, butchered, braised, stewed, and/or charred in a way that maximizes flavor, visual appeal be damned.”

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Don't be afraid to try something new

“Good food and good eating are about risk,” Bourdain wrote in his bestseller Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly. Through his TV travel adventures, the chef has eaten everything from a beating cobra heart to a raw seal eyeball, which he claimed were similar to an oyster and “not bad,” respectively. For viewers at home, the take-home message is: You won’t know if you don’t try. While raw organs aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, Bourdain encourages fans to open their minds to new foodie experiences—but you can always start with switching up the cheese on your turkey sandwich.

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Never order fish on Mondays -- until now

Even before writing Kitchen Confidential, Bourdain shocked the world with his breakout 1999 New Yorker essay revealing behind-the-scenes trade secrets from chefs. One of his most surprising: Seafood dishes usually aren’t very fresh on Mondays, when the fish is usually leftovers ordered for the weekend crowd. Restaurant goers followed the advice for years, but fast-forward 17 years and Bourdain changed his tune. “It's almost two decades later. Things have changed,” he told Business Insider, lamenting on the fact that it's still one of his most often-quoted tips. These are other foods chefs never order in restaurants.

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Typical "foodie" destinations don't have the only great eats

Rome? Been there. Paris? Done that. With his CNN show Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown the chef sampled local cuisine off the beaten path, bringing overlooked cities and countries to the public eye. Vicariously joining the chef on his journeys, viewers got to experience the cultures of Trinidad, Tanzania, Borneo, and countless others.

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How to spot the best local eats

Tourists always want to feel in-the-know about the best a city has to offer—but Bourdain knew not to just scan Yelp and call it a day. He told Bon Appétit to keep an eye out for long lines and non-touristy signs. “If a place is crowded, but the people lining up are not local, that’s a clue—a bad clue,” he said. “If it doesn’t have signs in English, it’s almost always worth investigating. I look to see if locals are willing to inconvenience themselves and wait in line for a long time to get something that only costs $1.50, especially if it’s a mixed bag of different incomes.” Don't miss these other 24 things restaurant owners wish they could tell you.

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Get cozy with the locals

Restaurant food might seem like the safer bet in foreign countries, but Bourdain wouldn’t shy away from a home cooked meal for a more authentic experience. “Generally speaking, there are countries where total strangers will invite you into their homes,” he told Bon Appétit. “In Tehran, just by virtue of being an American, you will probably be invited to dinner. I’d say, just be open. Don’t be afraid.”

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"Cheap, good food" isn't a paradox

One of Bourdain’s top spots was a hot dog joint of all places. At now-closed Hot Doug’s in Chicago, surprisingly affordable foie gras dogs were served up in paper trays. “It's proof that food doesn't have to be expensive to be great,” Bourdain said about it in Men’s Health.
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Quit demonizing butter

The health-conscious side of you might gasp in horror at a butter-soaked meal, but Bourdain unapologetically proclaimed you’ll find almost a full stick worth of butter in the best restaurant meals. “In the world of chefs … butter is in everything,” he wrote. Unless you want to give up pasta (yes, the noodles themselves), sauces, meat, and fish, you’ll have to give in to the fact that you’ll be consuming a whole lot of butter. Check out 57 more secrets restaurant servers won't tell you.

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Fresh is worth the extra effort

Bourdain was all about going fresh well before farm-to-table became a craze. In Kitchen Confidential, he scorned the idea of using jarred garlic in place of fresh cloves. “Avoid at all costs that vile spew you see rotting in oil in screwtop jars. Too lazy to peel fresh? You don't deserve to eat garlic,” he wrote. Some shortcuts just aren't worth it.

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Brunch isn't a real meal

Brunch might be a good excuse to day drink with mimosas, but Bourdain would not have been impressed with avocado toast. “[Dedicated cooks] despise hollandaise, home fries, those pathetic fruit garnishes, and all the other cliché accompaniments designed to induce a credulous public into paying $12.95 for two eggs,” he wrote in The New Yorker. “You can dress brunch up with all the focaccia, smoked salmon, and caviar in the world, but it’s still breakfast.” Don't miss these 10 things chefs never, ever order at brunch.

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No amount of restaurant food can replace home cooking

Not everyone will grow up to be a culinary genius like Bourdain, but he did wish young adults would stop relying on takeout and instant ramen. “I do think the idea that basic cooking skills are a virtue, that the ability to feed yourself and a few others with proficiency should be taught to every young man and woman as a fundamental skill, should become as vital to growing up as learning to wipe one’s own [butt], cross the street by oneself, or be trusted with money,” he wrote in Medium Raw.

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It's not all about what's on your plate

Not only did Bourdain have a deep appreciation for good food (to say the least), but he also understood the power of sharing a meal. In Vietnam and Mexico, for instance, the amount of time it takes just to pull a meal together is a strong bonding experience in and of itself, he wrote in A Cook’s Tour. “Meals make the society, hold the fabric together in lots of ways that were charming and interesting and intoxicating to me,” he wrote. “The perfect meal, or the best meals, occur in a context that frequently has very little to do with the food itself.”

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Keep it simple

There’s something exciting about tasting exotic ingredients or a creative take on classic dishes, but Bourdain never claimed that food needs to be complex be worth eating. “Good food is very often, even most often, simple food,” he wrote in Kitchen Confidential. Learn the 8 things celebrity chefs look for in a restaurant.

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