A rogue's gallery of instigators, troublemakers and Eric Ripert.
Anthony Bourdain has been traveling the world in front of a camera for 17 years and in that time, he’s featured a lot of sidekicks and partners-in-crime on his various shows. However, since kicking off his television career with A Cook’s Tour in 2000, certain individuals have appeared on the show more than others, acting as both instigators and foils for Bourdain. Here are the seven people Anthony Bourdain has traveled with most.
Philippe Lajaunie (3 Appearances)
If there’s one person that should be held responsible for what Bourdain has become, it’s his former boss—former Les Halles owner Philippe Lajaunie. Years before Bourdain became a TV star, Lajaunie sent his then-chef to Tokyo to help open a restaurant. It was Bourdain’s first proper trip out of the U.S. and it sparked his wanderlust. So far, Lajaunie has made three appearances on Bourdain's shows, most recently in the "Myanmar" episode of Parts Unknown. While Bourdain prefers to take in a new locale by walking in silence and absorbing what’s around him, Lajaunie prefers to chat up locals—even when he doesn't speak the language.
Appears in “Vietnam: No Place Like Home” (No Reservations), “Into The Fire” (No Reservations), “Myanmar” (Parts Unknown)
Michael Ruhlman (3 Appearances)
While Ohioans may never forgive Michael Ruhlman for taking Bourdain to Skyline Chili in the Cleveland episode of No Reservations—Skyline belongs to Cincinnati and Cincinnati alone—he is certainly one of Bourdain’s favorite travel companions. In the "Hudson Valley" episode of No Reservations, the two returned to the Culinary Institute of America, which both of them attended, albeit at radically different ages, to speak to students about what comes after school. While Ruhlman did his best to remain professional and educational, Bourdain jokingly hawked fake merch outside the school and handed out branded condoms. Later, they visited the hotel that inspired The Shining. Their bond is truly unbreakable.
Appears in “Cleveland” (No Reservations), “Hudson Valley” (No Reservations), “Las Vegas” (Parts Unknown)
Chris Bourdain (4 Appearances)
Bourdain’s younger brother Chris is quite different from his older brother, which is what makes their on-camera relationship so great. Chris, who has had a long career in international banking, likes to call out his sibling, especially on matters related to their youth (Bourdain embellishes). Chris’s four appearances on Anthony’s three shows constitute the older Bourdain’s entire TV career, beginning with the “Childhood Flavors” episode of A Cook’s Tour and most recently when they returned to their home state of New Jersey together on Parts Unknown.
Appears in “Childhood Flavors” (A Cook’s Tour), “Holiday Special” (No Reservations), “Uruguay” (No Reservations), “New Jersey” (Parts Unknown)
Linh (5 Appearances)
Linh was Bourdain’s fixer during his first trip to Vietnam, a country that Bourdain has since become obsessed with and has filmed in more than any other. Throughout Bourdain’s six Vietnam episodes, Linh is almost always present, both to help Bourdain navigate the crazy streets and to introduce him to new foods, like squeasel (aka porcupine) during his first trip to Hanoi.
Appears in “My Friend Linh” (A Cook’s Tour), "Vietnam: The Island of Mr. Sang" (No Reservations), “Vietnam: There’s No Place Like Home” (No Reservations), “Vietnam: Central Highlands” ((No Reservations), “Vietnam” (Parts Unknown)
Nari Kye (5 Appearances)
Nari Kye is one of Bourdain’s most trusted producers and is undoubtedly Bourdain’s most positive and jolly foil. Whenever he shows up hungover, sleep-deprived or grumpy, Kye is 100 percent excited and optimistic. In one of the best early episodes of No Reservations, Bourdain and Kye visit Korea together and focus the entire episode on Kye's family's story. More recently, Kye returned to Korea with Bourdain for what was one of the most beautifully shot episodes of Parts Unknown thus far.
Appears in “New Jersey” (No Reservations), “Korea” (No Reservations), “Vancouver” (No Reservations), “So Long, Summer” (No Reservations), “Korea” (Parts Unknown)
Eric Ripert (5 Appearances)
In recent years, chef Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin has become Bourdain’s go-to sidekick on his global adventures. However, their on-screen relationship has a very humble beginning. On 2007’s “Into The Fire NY” episode of No Reservations, Bourdain returns to the Les Halles kitchen for a day and invites Ripert along to join him. Of course, Bourdain, who had been out of the kitchen for almost seven years at this point, gets crushed, while Ripert, who to this day still works regularly in the kitchen, mans the grill station with a giant smile on his face. It’s the perfect contrast for two friends who are so different, yet play off each other so well. Bourdain and Ripert filmed an episode in Chamonix, France earlier this year so expect their adventures to continue on at full speed.
Appears in “Into the Fire” (No Reservations), “Paris” (No Reservations), “Peru” (Parts Unknown), “Marseille” (Parts Unknown), “Sichuan” (Parts Unknown)
Zamir Gotta (9 Appearances)
When it comes to sheer number of appearances on Bourdain’s many shows, one man rises far above the rest: Zamir Gotta. Beginning with Bourdain’s painful journey into Uzbekistan for No Reservations back in 2004, Gotta has acted as Bourdain’s top fixer and guide through much of the Eastern Bloc, along with making various appearances around the United States. Basically, any time there’s a shady Eastern European government to deal with, Gotta is there to help. As such, some of Bourdain’s drunkest and most peculiar moments from his entire on-camera career have occurred as a result of Gotta’s questionable leadership.
Appears in “Uzbekistan” (No Reservations), “Russia” (No Reservations), “Romania” (No Reservations), “Rust Belt” (No Reservations), “Ukraine” (No Reservations), “Kansas City” (No Reservations), “Seven Deadly Sins” (No Reservations), “Off the Charts” (No Reservations), “Russia” (Parts Unknown)