From his best "Kitchen Confidential" quotes, to Anthony Bourdain’s thoughts on life, his passionate search for new cultures and cuisines will inspire your next adventure.

By Maya Kachroo-Levine
February 05, 2019

I have a printed out copy of Anthony Bourdain’s first New Yorker article, Don’t Eat Before Reading This, in my desk drawer. Sometimes I forget it’s there, and sometimes it gets crushed by external hard drives, travel brochures, or extraneous chords. But every so often, when I’m sick of working, I’ll clean out my desk and start reading the crumpled pages. And almost instantly, I am thrown by the way Bourdain sculpts sentences, by his matter-of-fact humor, and by how timeless his words are. Bourdain’s work hooks me instantly, and offers answers to questions I didn’t even know I had. Much of Anthony Bourdain’s writing advocates for experiencing culture through food, and exploring the lesser-known sights of new cities. And those ideas have helped informed how I travel.

Whether you’re a fan of his written work and are searching for "Kitchen Confidential" quotes, or you’re more partial to watching Parts Unknown, there's a piece of his wisdom to suit every appetite. These 52 Anthony Bourdain quotes about life will broaden your travel horizons and inspire you on your next journey.

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Anthony Bourdain Travel Quotes

“It seems that the more places I see and experience, the bigger I realize the world to be. The more I become aware of, the more I realize how relatively little I know of it, how many places I have still to go, how much more there is to learn.”

“Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life — and travel — leaves marks on you.”

"The journey is part of the experience — an expression of the seriousness of one’s intent. One doesn’t take the A train to Mecca."

“If you’re twenty-two, physically fit, hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel – as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them — wherever you go.”

“If I'm an advocate for anything, it's to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. The extent to which you can walk in someone else's shoes or at least eat their food, it's a plus for everybody. Open your mind, get up off the couch, move.”

“Travel is about the gorgeous feeling of teetering in the unknown.”

“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”

“It’s an irritating reality that many places and events defy description. Angkor Wat and Machu Picchu, for instance, seem to demand silence, like a love affair you can never talk about. For a while after, you fumble for words, trying vainly to assemble a private narrative, an explanation, a comfortable way to frame where you’ve been and what’s happened. In the end, you’re just happy you were there — with your eyes open — and lived to see it.”

"I’m a big believer in winging it. I’m a big believer that you’re never going to find perfect city travel experience or the perfect meal without a constant willingness to experience a bad one. Letting the happy accident happen is what a lot of vacation itineraries miss, I think, and I’m always trying to push people to allow those things to happen rather than stick to some rigid itinerary."

"Do we really want to travel in hermetically sealed popemobiles through the rural provinces of France, Mexico and the Far East, eating only in Hard Rock Cafes and McDonald's? Or do we want to eat without fear, tearing into the local stew, the humble taqueria's mystery meat, the sincerely offered gift of a lightly grilled fish head?"

"Drink heavily with locals whenever possible."

“Nothing unexpected or wonderful is likely to happen if you have an itinerary in Paris filled with the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower.”

“Plans should be ephemeral, so be prepared to move away from them.”

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Anthony Bourdain Food Quotes

“You learn a lot about someone when you share a meal together.”

“Barbecue may not be the road to world peace, but it’s a start.”

“Your body is not a temple, it's an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.”

“I, personally, think there is a real danger of taking food too seriously. Food should be part of the bigger picture.”

"I think food, culture, people and landscape are all absolutely inseparable."

“The mishandling of food and equipment with panache was always admired; to some extent, this remains true to this day.”

"I learned a long time ago that trying to micromanage the perfect vacation is always a disaster. That leads to terrible times."

“I've long believed that good food, good eating, is all about risk. Whether we're talking about unpasteurized Stilton, raw oysters or working for organized crime 'associates,' food, for me, has always been an adventure”

“Good food is very often, even most often, simple food.”

“An egg in anything makes it better.”

“But 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 ass, cross the street by oneself, or be trusted with money.”

“The way you make an omelet reveals your character.”

“An ounce of sauce covers a multitude of sins.”

“And now to sleep, to dream. . . perchance to fart.”

“Food is everything we are. It's an extension of nationalist feeling, ethnic feeling, your personal history, your province, your region, your tribe, your grandma. It's inseparable from those from the get-go.”

“Meals make the society, hold the fabric together in lots of ways that were charming and interesting and intoxicating to me. The perfect meal, or the best meals, occur in a context that frequently has very little to do with the food itself.”

“For me, the cooking life has been a long love affair, with moments both sublime and ridiculous.”

“You have to be romantic to invest yourself, your money, and your time in cheese.”

“Generally speaking, the good stuff comes in on Tuesday: the seafood is fresh, the supply of prepared food is new, and the chef, presumably, is relaxed after his day off.”

“You can dress brunch up with all the focaccia, smoked salmon, and caviar in the world, but it’s still breakfast.”

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Anthony Bourdain Quotes about Life

“I am not afraid to look like an idiot.”

“There is no Final Resting Place of the Mind.”

“I’m through being cool. Or, more accurately, I’m through entertaining the notion that anybody could even consider the possibility of coolness emanating from or residing anywhere near me.”

“Skills can be taught. Character you either have or you don't have.”

“Luck is not a business model.”

“But I'm simply not going to deceive anybody about the life as I've seen it. It's all here: the good, the bad and the ugly.”

"I don't have to agree with you to like you or respect you."

"If you’re a writer, particularly if you’re a writer or a storyteller of any kind, there is something already kind of monstrously wrong with you."

“If I believe in anything, it is doubt. The root cause of all life’s problems is looking for a simple f—ing answer.”

“Perhaps wisdom. . . is realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go.”

“Without new ideas, success can become stale.”

“What are our expectations? Which of the things we desire are within reach? If not now, when? And will there be some left for me?”

“Give the people you work with or deal with or have relationships with the respect to show up at the time you said you were going to. And by that I mean, every day, always and forever. Always be on time.”

“I have a tattoo on my arm, that says, in ancient Greek, ‘I am certain of nothing.’ I think that’s a good operating principle.”

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