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"I’m always on the lookout for a good Irish bar where nobody gives a f--- about me," the Parts Unknown host tells Food & Wine

Maria Yagoda
January 18, 2018

Anthony Bourdain is recognized everywhere he goes, much to the chagrin of Anthony Bourdain. His high-visibility has, in fact, made shooting his show, Parts Unknown, somewhat difficult, as its whole mission is showing extraordinary food stalls, street carts and mom-and-pop shops how they really are, not how they are when crowds are swarming a high-profile customer. 

"It’s much easier for me and production of the show if no one knows or gives a shit," Bourdain tells Food & Wine at the 10th Annual Cayman Cookout at the Grand Cayman Ritz-Carlton. "We want people to behave as they did yesterday and as they’re going to behave tomorrow. We don’t want them to try too hard, freezing up, being intimidated or being impressed."

Bourdain says that "it's virtually impossible" to operate in some countries—and not necessarily the ones you would expect. "There are some countries where I cannot walk down the street," he says. "It’s a problem when it’s a crowd of really nice people. The Phillipines is really tough for me. I have a lot of Filipino fans, and they know I love them and the country. I’ll be eating in a restaurant, and there will be 100 people outside, all of them really nice with cameras. And I feel like an utter shit. It just changes the whole dynamic."

It's much easier, however, to shoot in a place like France, where no one cares that much, he says. "If I’m on T.V. there, it's an obscure little satellite network there. You never know which countries I’m in heavy rotation on cable. It’s just anomalies."

Rebecca Davidson

He never suspected to be so big in Borneo, for example, but the weirdest was when he was swarmed in "super-rural, middle-of-nowhere Oman" by women speaking in Arabic.

"They were like, 'I know you! You were on The Simpsons!' They recognized me as an animated character," he says. 

So if you think that Bourdain is going to share his favorite place to drink in New York City when we ask, you're out of your mind. When he's not traveling for his show, he likes to keep the lowest profile possible, which is why he refuses to tell us his go-to dive bar.

"I’m always on the lookout for a good Irish bar where nobody gives a f--- about me, and I found one," he says. "I can’t tell you where it is. It’s all janitors and construction workers, and they’re like, 'Hey you’re that asshole from T.V.' And after that I’m just a regular."

When he goes to restaurants, he doesn't want extra courses, and just like when he's filming, he doesn't want to be swarmed. That's why he and his daughter, Ariane, have a genius strategy for avoiding interactions.

"If we’re together, and I’m taking her out to dinner and an overzealous fan comes up, she immediately goes, 'Dada my tummy hurts,' so I can go honey, 'It’s ok,'" he says. "And then they feel bad interrupting me, and they go away. She even does the lip thing."