Chef, bestselling author, public speaker and star TV Anthony Bourdain travels for a living. Known for his acerbic wit and passion for food, he shares his journeys with the world in his CNN show Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.
We talked to the sage globetrotter to find out everything from what he wears when he travels to his favorite places to visit.
What do you wear when you travel?
I’m always wearing Clarks Desert Boots when I go to the airport because they’re easy to kick off and they’re quick to put back on.
Generally, I wear comfortable jeans and a very comfortable shirt, maybe a button-down. And I’ll keep a lightweight down Patagonia jacket balled up inside my carry-on, just in case it gets cold somewhere, or I need to use it as a pillow.
But everything is designed for security — I’m not going to be holding you up on the security line.
What are your favorite places to visit?
Hanoi fits in with my romantic notions of the East, my little boy fantasies of the way travel should be.
Tokyo, I just love. I feel about Tokyo the way all chefs seem to — that it’s really the mountaintop for pure food perfectionism and fetishism, as well as just being so wonderfully impenetrable. There will always be more to learn about Japan in general and Tokyo in particular.
And I love Barcelona and Rome, for obvious reasons.
What are your favorite hotels?
I travel so much and stay in so many hotels, but I have a few that I’m really loyal to and love. First and foremost, the Chateau Marmont in L.A. That’s the hotel I want to die at.
That to me is the perfect hotel; I feel most at home there and happy. I travel so much and stay in so many hotels, I really like to know where I am the second I open my eyes. I love The Raleigh in South Beach, too.
But I also have a real fondness for Southeast Asian colonial-era hotels, like the Metropole in Hanoi and Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor in Siem Reap — those remnants of French and mostly British Empire in places like Penang and Sri Lanka. I love those.
What are your favorite restaurants?
There’s a place in Rome called Il Timoniere. We shot there in our Rome episode. It’s a really casual place and it’s jokingly referred to as “the angry cousin.” They just do wonderful, very typical Roman pastas and braised dishes — it’s very simple, but my whole crew’s in love with the place. We eat there even if we’re not shooting there.
Where else do I love? Asador Etxebarri near San Sebastián is the place that most chefs I know want to have their last meal. It’s Basque, but very deceptively simple. The best ingredients grilled with a fetishistic attention to detail. And we covered that place in one of the Spain shows as well. But, wow, that is an awesome, awesome restaurant.
What do you always take with you when traveling?
My iPad has become quickly essential. It’s just loaded with books and videos of film. I need to stay in touch, but I also need to be prepared for long, unexpected stays in airports or waiting rooms and the iPad’s really invaluable for that.
What are your favorite souvenirs to bring home?
I’m a collector of really only one thing: I like old Persol sunglasses. So if I see those for sale anywhere in Italy — if I see a shop seller with a good line of Persols — I’ll go in and see if there’s one I don’t have that looks pretty cool.
What is your favorite airline?
Singapore Airlines by far and away. It’s comfortable, has a high level of service and very comfortable, flat beds, a wide range of movies and food that’s actually edible. The baggage services — your stuff is up there on the carousel by the time you arrive every time. They do everything right.
Cathay Pacific is also good.