Home Celebrity Foods Anthony Bourdain Refused To Eat (and Some of His Favorites)

Foods Anthony Bourdain Refused To Eat (and Some of His Favorites)

Monica July 17, 2023

Thanks to his decorated career and life, Anthony Bourdain was one of the world’s most famous food critics. He deservedly earned the title of celebrity chef and helped restaurants make their way to fame with his kind words. On the flip side, he also crumbled others with his harsh words and criticism. Even though he faced a tragic ending, he was famous in the food world for two decades.

Bourdain was never too shy to talk about his favorite foods and also the foods he disliked the most. After reading this list, you might change your opinion about a food item or two. And as Bourdain put it, “To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living.” Check out the foods that Bourdain refused to eat and several others he loved right here.


Hated: Brioche Hamburger Buns

According to Bourdain, the hamburger bun acts as a delivery vehicle for the hamburger. It’s not supposed to add grease and get in the way. He said, “The hamburger bun is designed to absorb grease, not add greasiness to the experience. A proper hamburger bun should retain its structural integrity, playing its role as a delivery vehicle for the meat patty until the last bite. The brioche bun, woefully unsuitable for this role, crumbles.” Bourdain believed potato buns absorb grease and don’t change the flavor of the hamburger like brioche buns do (via Tasting Table).

Eating the Globe

Loved: Bali’s Roasted Pig

Meaty, juicy, and flavorful, roasted pig was Bourdain’s favorite dish. While most of us wouldn’t dare try it, Bourdain favors this dish above others. It was in Bali that he tried the life-changing dish, called babi guling. All of its flavor is thanks to the spices slathered all over the pig’s skin right before it’s roasted (via Eating the Globe).


Loved: St-Viateur Bagels

These aren’t just any bagels, they’re bagels from a specific shop in Montreal, Canada. When Anthony Bourdain visited this shop and tried this mouthwatering bagel, it changed his life. He even recommended it as, “one of the best examples of Montreal-style bagels”. And even though this shop has been up and running for over six decades, Bourdain was one of their biggest fans (via Continents Condiments).

First We Feast

Hated: Pumpkin Spice

Even though most of us go crazy for a bit of pumpkin spice during the fall, Bourdain can’t stand it. He hoped it’s a trend that’ll eventually disappear, though that doesn’t seem likely, considering it takes over the Starbucks menu every October. He said pumpkin spice “drowned in its blood. I don’t see anything out there that I instinctively hate existentially. I sound like a complete curmudgeon at this point” (via Refinery29).

Eater Vegas

Loved: Steak Frites

There are few things better than steak frites according to Anthony Bourdain. His friends even commented he was part European. Chef Daniel Boulud said, “He was taking pride in doing simple things, even if it was a steak frites. Tony was quite European in a way, in his thinking of cooking. Even French, I would say.” Bourdain particularly loved the steak frites he ate in Paris, France (via Mashed).


Hated: Club Sandwiches

Not only do club sandwiches rarely if ever stay together, but they’re taken over by the flavor of that extra, unnecessary piece of bread. Anthony Bourdain said, “I’m irritated by that useless middle slice of bread on the club sandwich. It’s been there forever; it’s not a trend. It’s lasted for decades and why, when we can so easily dispense with it? Do you know who invented the middle slice? Enemies of freedom. Their mission? Sap our will to live by ruining our sandwich experiences through ‘tectonic slide.” It’s easy to say he was not a fan of the club sandwich and that useless third slice of bread (via Inside Hook).


Loved: The Burger From Minetta Tavern

This Black Label Burger costs a whopping $33, but the price tag didn’t matter in Bourdain’s world. He once praised this burger as the best one in Manhattan. It meets NYC standards, and Bourdain said it’s “A special blend made just for them by Meat Master General of New York, Pat LaFrieda.” It’s made of dry-aged ribeye, a skirt steak, and brisket (via Cozy Meal).


Hated: Truffle Oil

Most of us love truffle oil, especially when it’s dribbled onto our pizza. But did you know there’s not even truffle in truffle oil? It’s olive oil and a chemical compound that goes by the name of 2,4-Dithiapentane. That’s one way to put us off. We’re actually eating chemicals when we eat truffle oil, not actual mushrooms. He said that it’s “about as edible as Astroglide and made from the same stuff.” Bourdain hated this fact and stayed far away from truffle oil (via Eater).


Hated: Kobe Sliders

Bourdain hated Kobe sliders more than he hated truffle oil. The food itself annoyed him, and he didn’t understand why people like it. He said, “There is no food crime worse the very epicenter of [horror] is the Kobe slider. If you see Kobe Slider on a menu at a restaurant that you’ve walked into, turn on your heels and leave. No good will come of this, it will just be a sea of high-fiving hedge funders and people you do not want anywhere near you.” It sounds like the Kobe Sliders haunted Bourdain. That’s enough to turn us off of them (via Eater).


Hated: Hollandaise Sauce

Bourdain hated hollandaise sauce, and it was all thanks to bacteria. In his book, he said, “How about hollandaise sauce? Not for me. Bacteria love hollandaise. And hollandaise, that delicate emulsion of egg yolks and clarified butter must be held at a temperature not too hot nor too cold, lest it breaks when spooned over your poached eggs. Unfortunately, this lukewarm holding temperature is also the favorite environment for bacteria to copulate and reproduce.” We’ll try not to let him ruin our favorite, eggs benedict. There are some things in life we’re better off not knowing and this is one of them (via Good Reads).


Hated: Swordfish

In Kitchen Confidential, Bourdain doesn’t shy away from the truth. He openly talks about how much he hates swordfish, and he has a point. He wrote, “My seafood purveyor, when he goes out to dinner, won’t eat [swordfish]. He’s seen too many of those three-foot-long parasitic worms that riddle the fish’s flesh. You see a few of these babies and you won’t be tucking into swordfish anytime soon.” It looks like we won’t either. If the chef doesn’t properly cook or take care of your swordfish, there’s a big chance you won’t feel well. If Bourdain eats swordfish with a chef he trusts, he’ll eat it, but that’s few and far between, and the same goes for any other fish (via The Guardian).


Hated: Gluten-Free Diets

Bourdain can’t stand gluten-free diets for people other than those with celiac disease. Worst of all, if there’s a restaurant patron who complains because their pasta wasn’t gluten-free, he can’t stand it. During an interview, he said, “Look, before you start boring me to death at a party about how you got gluten-free, shouldn’t you see a doctor before you make this big move? I don’t think half of these people even understand what they’re talking about.” If you haven’t yet had a doctor’s opinion, don’t even try the gluten-free diet (via The Travel).


Loved: Charcuterie

If you’re a fan of delicious deli meats, then you would have gotten along just fine with Bourdain. He adored French charcuterie boards, which include spreads of meats, cheeses, fruits, and bread on a wooden board. It sounds like everything delicious in life and more. But you better make your charcuterie delicious, otherwise, Bourdain wouldn’t come back (via Vice).


Hated: Brunch

Bourdain believed brunch is a bunch of leftovers. When a restaurant offers brunch, he said, they’re usually taking the leftovers they couldn’t sell the day before and charging a horrendous price for it. On the subject, he said, “[It’s a] horrible, cynical way of unloading leftovers and charging three times as much as you ordinarily charge for breakfast. It’s the least popular shift for cooks. I hate it. I’ve all sorts of deep, highly traumatic memories of my years cooking brunch.” It’s just another one of those troublesome food trends that will never catch on (via Oregon Live).

The Spruce Eats

Hated: Well-Done Steak

There was nothing more disgusting in the tastebuds of Bourdain than a well-done steak. If a chef can’t sell a part of the meat, they’ll usually wait for a naive person to order their steak well-done, and then chuck them the unwanted piece. He said, “People who order their meat well-done perform a valuable service for those of us in the business who are cost-conscious. They pay for the privilege of eating our garbage. In many kitchens, there’s a time-honored practice called ‘save for well-done.’ The philistine who orders his food well-done isn’t likely to notice the difference between food and flotsam.” It has the same consistency as shoe leather and Bourdain disliked it for this reason (via Town and Country Mag).


Hated: Airplane Food

If there’s one thing Anthony Bourdain refused to eat, it was airplane food. He would either skip it altogether or bring his own food on board. In an interview, he said, “No one has ever felt better after eating plane food. I think people only eat it because they’re bored. I don’t eat on planes. Bring some good barbecue on and have everybody in the plane smell it,” said Bourdain. “I brought some Joe’s BBQ on the plane from Kansas City once, and the look of pure loathing on everyone’s faces as I gnawed on my ribs—I wouldn’t care to repeat it.” There’s nothing worse than food envy. Thanks, Anthony (Spoon University).

Eat Like Bourdain

Loved: Thai Food

While Bourdain was in Thailand, he got a taste for delicious, authentic Thai cuisine. His favorite was the Thai chicken noodle soup. He couldn’t get enough of those savory flavors with a touch of sweetness. He ate a ton of spots in the food haven of Chiang Mai. Bourdain also ate a caramelized banana, banana leaf fish, and khao soi, a coconut milk curry with chicken and yellow noodles (via Eat Like Bourdain).

Restaurant Clicks

Hated: Ranch Dressing

First, there was the hollandaise sauce, now there’s the ranch dressing. It feels like our favorite foods are taking the brunt of Bourdain’s criticism. He did have a point, though. Bourdain said, “There’s a place for it, but I don’t want it on my chicken wings. You know, if you ‘ranch’ something, does it make it better? Probably not. It’s not a flavor I particularly understand.” He also believed it did a good job of masking the preservatives and artificial flavors in any dish. There are certainly better foods out there (via Tasting Table).


Hated: McDonald’s Chicken Nuggets

If there’s one thing Bourdain would never touch, it’s the chicken McNuggets from McDonalds. Granted, there’s something unnatural and chewy about the nuggets, but even that doesn’t stop most people from chowing down on those little brown bites. But Bourdain wouldn’t go near them (via The Travel).

The New Yorker

Hated: Extra Hot Fried Chicken

Some people love spicy chicken and others hate spicy chicken. Bourdain hated it. He said, “That was truly, truly terrifying. And if you’re considering going to Nashville, by the way, please notice that Nashvillians themselves don’t eat the extra-hot fried chicken. They know better. Unless you’ve got three or four days to spend in a bathroom, I advise against that.” He once dove into a mound of Nashville Hot Chicken and the cayenne pepper mixed with oil made him feel horrible (via Inside Hook).

Wine Berkshers

Hated: Frito Pie

Bourdain made sure the world knew how much he hated the Frito Pie served at the New Mexico Five & Dime General Store. He said, “[It’s like] canned Hormel chili and [a] day-glow orange cheese-like substance dropped right into a bag of Fritos. In just six minutes, I’ve achieved a depth of self-loathing that it usually takes a night of drinking to achieve.” That doesn’t sound like any sort of review anyone would want to receive at their restaurant, ever (via LA Times).

Urban Daddy

Hated: House Ketchup

Even though house-made ketchup certainly sounds a lot nicer than the plastic bottled ketchup we buy at restaurants, it certainly tastes the same. Bourdain hated the house-made ketchup, and as he noted, “You have to find a house-made ketchup that’s better than the platonic idea of ketchup. Which is the same cheap ketchup you always had. I think the industrial product, in this case, has powerful emotional connections that cannot be replicated or bettered.” There’s zero difference between house-made ketchup and ketchup you’d buy in a bottle at the store (via Urban Daddy).


Loved: Nigerian Food

For an episode of his beloved television show ‘Parts Unknown,’ Bourdain visited Nigeria. He dove into the local cuisine scene, where he chowed down on masa griddle cakes, jollof rice, pepper soup, cornmeal porridge, and roasted eland. Tunji Andrews, who took Bourdain around Nigeria, said, “While I was being proper using cutlery, he washed his hands and dug in Naija style.” Bourdain did not shy away from diving into the food like a local (via QZ).


Hated: Craft Beer

Even though Bourdain was a huge food critic, it doesn’t mean he was also a big alcohol critic. He was a simple man who liked a cold, refreshing beer and didn’t care too much for craft beer. Actually, he disliked the stuff entirely. In an interview, he said “I haven’t made the effort to walk down the street 10 blocks to the microbrewery where they’re making some Mumford and Sons IPA. I don’t drink the best beer in the world on the show. It’s a problem that comes up a lot. The angriest mail I get is from beer nerds — people who are craft beer enthusiasts. They get cranky with me. I just like cold beer. My standards rise and fall depending on access to cold beer.” There’s something we can agree on with Bourdain. A simple, cold beer is never a bad idea. He wanted people to stop analyzing cold beer (via HuffPost).


Hated: Juice Cleanses

Juice cleanses have been all the rage for a while now. They’re supposed to aid in detoxing the body and providing ample vitamins and minerals. Instead of eating solid food, you rely on juiced fruits and vegetables. Bourdain could never understand the fad and wanted it to disappear from the world forever. Even though he loved juice, he would never be caught doing an entire cleanse and only drinking juice (via Restaurant Clicks).

CBN News

Loved: Suckling Pig

Chinese food is delicious. There’s so much variety to choose from, that it makes it hard to pick just one. Which is why we usually overeat and feel overly full at the end of a Chinese meal. When Bourdain visited Macau, China, he indulged in a suckling pig meal and fell in love with its flavors and textures. He was reported saying, “Oh my God, that was a religious experience. In the words of Homer Simpson, the pig is a magical animal. When it’s done brilliantly, I mean, it’s all about the ski, and that skin was just fantastic.” Thanks Bourdain, now we’re drooling (via Today).


Hated: Bacon

Even though bacon is tasty, delicious, crunchy, and salty, too much of it isn’t necessarily a good thing. He liked to enjoy it every so often, and even said, “I love bacon, but I don’t think we need it on everything. I think there’s a tendency to over-jack and over-umami food these days.” Bourdain liked to enjoy these sorts of things every once in a while. It does make it better, after all (via Gulf News).


Loved: Lebanese Hummus

We love hummus. There’s nothing better than dipping crunchy bread or fresh vegetables into that delicious concoction of chickpeas, olive oil, and tahini. Before his trip to Lebanon, he’d already had experience with Lebanese food. During an interview, he said, “I know a great chef in Melbourne Australia, who made me sensational Lebanese food way before I went to Lebanon. I ate decent Lebanese specialties in New York at the little joint around the corner. I had very high expectations, already well aware of how good the food could be”. When Bourdain visited Lebanon, he couldn’t get enough of the stuff. He often frequented restaurants in Lebanon serving only the best hummus (via CNN).

The Wrap

Hated: Soy Sauce and Wasabi

Don’t show up to a sushi restaurant and mix your wasabi with your soy sauce. And don’t you dare dip your rice side down. Bourdain said, “If you immediately plop a big wad of wasabi into your dish of soy sauce, mix it around with your chopsticks. Your sushi chef loses all respect for you. Dip your nigiri into its rice side down. He hates you now. You may as well spit in his face. Seven years learning rice and you just shat in it.” There’s nothing more disrespectful than not eating sushi correctly, according to Bourdain, and he hated people that are ignorant enough to do so (via Inside Hook).


Loved: Ribs From Missouri

If there’s one thing Bourdain couldn’t get enough of, it was the ribs from Joe’s in Kansas City, Missouri. Whenever he walked into the restaurant, he eyed those delicious ribs and fully indulged in their delicious flavors. He said, “Here, the brisket (particularly the burnt ends), pulled pork, and ribs are all of a quality that meets the high standards even of Kansas City natives. It’s the best barbecue in Kansas City, making it the best in the world.” He even added it to his list as a place everyone should eat at before they die (via Cheat Sheet).


Loved: Deep-Fried Hotdogs

If there’s anything we love more than a hotdog, it’s a deep-fried hotdog. Bourdain was enamored by the hotdogs sold at Hiram’s stand in New Jersey, where they deep fry the hotdogs. They’re the best in the state, and probably in the country. He’d visited the hotdog joint since the ’50s, and even claimed they are the “finest hot dogs in the land.” (via North Jersey).

Business Insider

Hated: Unicorn Frappuccinos

We learned Bourdain hated pumpkin spice lattes, but what about unicorn frappuccinos? When he shared his opinion about Starbucks’ Unicorn frappuccino, he said, “Wow, that’s like four things I hate all in one sentence: Starbucks, unicorns, and the colors pink and purple. Also a frappuccino! It’s the perfect nexus of awfulness. Just add pumpkin spice to that mix, and you can nuke the whole country.” When put that way, it does sound pretty horrendous. There’s nothing more unnatural sounding than a unicorn frappuccino (via Business Insider).