First Person

Anthony Bourdain on his start in Provincetown

TV’s culinary adventurer, who will appear at Boston’s Symphony Hall on November 16, talks about his first kitchen job and love of travel.

Anthony Bourdain is leaving the Travel Channel and will appear on CNN starting early next year. 
Travel Channel
Anthony Bourdain is leaving the Travel Channel and will appear on CNN starting early next year. 

I was sharing a house in Provincetown one summer with a bunch of friends from high school. I was not contributing to the rent, and everybody I was living with was working in seasonal jobs at restaurants either as cooks or floor staff. One night they just said, we need a dishwasher and it’s going to be you, since you are not contributing to the rent. So I GOT STARTED AS A DISHWASHER and fell in love with the whole business and the whole subculture.

When I was 44 years old and had been working in the restaurant business for almost 30 years, I wrote an article for a free newspaper called the New York Press. The idea was to entertain other cooks and chefs. But in a moment of drunken humor, I withdrew the article and sent it to The New Yorker. Forty-eight hours after the article was published I had a book deal, Kitchen Confidential [which was published in 2000].

It is inconceivable to me that anyone who can travel wouldn’t. I AM CURIOUS ABOUT THE WORLD. I like films, I like books, to explore a different landscape, a different culture, A DIFFERENT CUISINE — that’s deeply satisfying to me in every possible way. I love nothing more than the feeling of being in a city where I don’t speak the language, can’t read the signs, don’t really know what it is that they are eating.


I love the New England Portuguese flavors, Azorean Massachusetts flavors. The first thing I’d like to do when I come back to Boston is to GO TO CRAIGIE ON MAINand do some serious drinking. I have heard really, really great things about it, and I haven’t been yet.  — As told to Visi R. Tilak 

This interview has been edited and condensed.