10 Questions for Anthony Bourdain

10 Questions for Anthony Bourdain

He has eaten seal eyes in the Arctic and cobras in Vietnam. The outspoken chef has a new book based on his adventure-travel eating show No Reservations. Anthony Bourdain will now take your questions

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever eaten —George Brozowski, San FranciscoFermented shark in Iceland. They celebrate their hardy Viking roots by eating shark that has essentially rotted and is then marinated in lactic acid for six months. There was also the warthog rectum in Namibia. Steer clear of that.

How do you avoid getting parasites when eating in so many places around the world —Malaika McKee-Culpepper Broomfield, Colo.It’s always the breakfast buffet at the major-chain hotel that gets you. It’s almost never street food. But some of our crew got subcutaneous larvae, which I thought was pretty cool. In the book we have a medical-anomalies chapter that I’m very proud of.

Do you think your show has a positive impact —Clifford DuVernois Long Beach, Calif.If I’m an advocate of anything, it’s the virtue of curiosity. But mostly the show is about me having a good time and someone else paying for it.

On the show, you seem squeamish when an animal is slaughtered. Isn’t it good for a chef to see every stage of the main ingredient —Erasmo Zayas, Calexico, Calif.I think it’s both useful and appropriate to experience the shame, guilt and discomfort of seeing what the real cost of dinner is. That said, who likes to see an animal in pain, except for Ted Nugent I dearly love pork, but seeing a pig die is a pretty bloodcurdling experience.

Did your travels ever influence the menu at your restaurant —Bryan Johnson, Hamden, Conn.I’m an old-school French chef. I ended my career cooking very rustic French food. So I’m not suddenly going to open Tony’s Pan-Asian Fusion Pit. It ain’t gonna happen.

Do you worry that smoking dulls your palate —Anthony Dauer, Annandale, Va.I’m amused by food nerds who say, “I’d never eat at a restaurant where the chef smokes.” Almost all the chefs I know smoke. That said, I’m also a new father of a 6-month-old girl. I don’t want to encourage anyone to quit smoking. In my experience, it really does make you cool. Chicks love it. But after 38 years, I quit.

Why do you always pick on Rachael Ray —Trandafir Albrando, ManilaShe can take it. She’s incredibly powerful and far more loved than I am. But she genuinely offends me. Julia Child, for example, raised people’s expectations of food. When Rachael tells you that it’s perfectly O.K. to buy prechopped onion from the supermarket… I mean, how hard is it to chop an onion The takeaway is, I could cook, but [instead] I’ll finish this bag of Cheetos and that gallon of Diet Pepsi before dying of diabetes.

Do you think Vietnam’s rapid modernization is affecting its food scene —Lien Murakami, Oakland, Calif.Yeah, I worry about that… With any rising middle class and exploding economy come fusion restaurants with crappy food and novelty martinis.

Are you ever going to open another restaurant —Irwin Chen, Brooklyn, N.Y.I’m 51 years old. From age 37, you don’t get any smarter or faster in the kitchen. Your palate is in decline. So God, I hope not. Though this TV scam could all go wrong, and I might need the job. [Laughs.]
Do you have any advice for an aspiring French chef —Sarah Lautengeo, Shizuoka, JapanGo work a month or two as a dishwasher in a really busy restaurant, and see if it’s still for you — the adrenaline and futility and craziness and cruelty. If you’re over 30 and you think you’re going to live your dream as a professional chef, sorry, Pops. It’s too late.

For more read these extra questions with Anthony Bourdain. To subscribe to the 10 Questions podcast on iTunes, go to time.com/10questions.