If you imagine this generation’s veteran chefs in a classroom situation, Anthony Bourdain is the smart-ass at the back of the room hurling one-liners at superior chefs heads, safe in the knowledge that while he might not end up with three Michelin stars, he has a host of other talents, with more personality than every other student combined.
Not only has the natural wordsmith won us over with a few excellent docu-series (one of which—No Reservations —currently airs on SBS), where Tony fuses his love of foodstuffs and verbiage with that infectious and in-demand personality.
We've compiled a collection of the coolest celebrities that have graced Bourdains most notable shows, No Reservations and Parts Unknown, with their presence.
Bill Murray – Hudson Valley, N.Y [Parts Unknown]
If Bourdain’s cred wasn’t already up there, scoring Murray for a much around Hudson Valley N.Y. scored him massive brownie points, and most likely attracted 20-something’s from the Irony Generation.
After a spot of minor league baseball, Murray and Bourdain visited award-winning chef Sean Brock’s southern-influenced restaurant, Husk. There, they sampled cuisine comprised of ingredients cultivated on-site, and held a poignant discussion about the Patrick Swayze 1989 cult classic Roadhouse.
Chuck Palahniuk – Pacific North-west [No Reservations]
Bourdain is quite the scribe, and has released best-selling books alongside his screenwriting gigs, so it’s no wonder a long list of authors have appeared on his programs. These included George Pelecanos (senior writer for The Wire), novelist Ian Rankin, poet Jim Harrison, and one Mr. Chuck Palahniuk.
Palahniuk, distinctive author of the novels Fight Club and Choke, joined Tony for a roam around Portland, and if you’ve never seen the man in the flesh, matching his personality and look with the head-fudging novelist is a fascinating process.
Sean Penn – Haiti [No Reservations]
Not exactly a food-themed episode, No Reservation’s season seven opener visited the still-recovering nation of earthquake-ravaged Haiti.
What’s a slightly depressing situation is covered with sensitivity, and we get a bit of meta-levity from Sean Penn popping up to show Tony around. One can almost imagine a Family Guy flash-away where Sean Penn is just always in Haiti, a stones throw away from anyone who wants to join the cause.
Josh Homme – U.S. Southwest [ No Reservations]
It’s only natural that one of the coolest men in food attracted the stomach of one of the coolest men in music—the crooning front-man from Queens of the Stone Age.
The two spent the episode in the Mojave Desert, a location that so perfectly fitted Homme you could imagine a Queens music video shot there.
So mutual was the bromance that Homme went on to provide the equally fitting instrumental track for the episode, featured in the above video.
Alice Cooper – Arizona [No Reservations]
If you’d been waiting for a good Cooper cameo since Wayne’s World, chances are you’ve already caught this season four episode of No Reservations and felt a little uncomfortable.
Bourdain stops over in Pheonix, where the dark lord of shock (I made that up) owns a frickin’ sports bar. The fact that the establishment doesn’t seem like somewhere Bourdain would frequent, let alone Cooper would own (though apparently his obsessive sports fandom is common knowledge), makes the whole experience a little wacky.
President Barack Obama - Vietnam [Parts Unknown]
While in Hanoi, Vietnam, Tony scored a sit-down, one-on-one date with President Barack Obama at an actual populated restaurant. Boy, off-camera secret service aside, it would it have been a lark to sit at that table.
During the meal, the two discuss the promo-worthy subject of ‘noodle-slurping’, fatherhood, and the nation of Vietnam, which was a surreal experience for Bourdain. He claims he hadn’t felt that nervous before a guest turned up since Iggy Pop.
Iggy Pop – Miami [Parts Unknown]
Bourdain is a rabid fan of Iggy Pop and The Stooges, which makes this episode more of a treasure than the others. Tony is noticeably giddy during the meet, and considering the notorious substance abuser is constantly sipping mineral water and waving the flag for healthy food, it’s quite the memorable affair.
Considering Bourdain wrote an account of the episode, and the man’s turn of phrase is compulsively readable, I’ll let his words do justice to the experience.
Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations airs every Wednesday night on Food Network at 7:30pm with double episodes. It is also available to stream on SBS On Demand.