Anthony Bourdain: a talented chef and champion of hip-hop culture.
Today (June 8), famed chef, author, and television personality Anthony Bourdain died by suicide. He was 61. Born in New York City in 1956, Bourdain would work in a number of professional kitchens before releasing his New York Times bestselling book Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly. From there, he made a name for himself as a TV personality, using shows like No Reservations and Parts Unknown to explore different cultures through their food.
Bourdain will forever be remembered for not only being a compelling storyteller but inspiring human being. The beauty of shows like Parts Unknown was how accessible and approachable Bourdain came across. You felt like you were there with him in Russia or Japan or the Bronx — drinking beers, eating food, and shooting the shit.
In remembrance of Bourdain, we’ve compiled some of his best hip-hop moments, specifically interactions he had with rap artists throughout his numerous TV series. And yes, we absolutely made sure to include his Parts Unknown “Houston” episode.
Das Racist (No Reservations, 2010)
Rather than doing the traditional chef’s holiday special, Bourdain instead enlisted Das Racist for a surreal music video. As the chef goes to his refrigerator in search of an ingredient, he’s greeted by Himanshu Suri and Victor Vazquez, whose heads are in an egg carton. From there, the raps begin.
“I’m from Queens, where ain’t shit to do but cook/Watching Tony Bourdain, plus I copped his book/Plus I copped his look/That means T-shirt and jeans,” Suri raps. The hilarious bit ends with Bourdain declaring that he “needs to clean out [his] fridge more often.”
Talib Kweli (No Reservations, 2012)
For the series finale of No Reservations, Bourdain frequented Brooklyn alongside Talib Kweli. As the pair dines on ravioli and duck, they also discuss the gentrification that has — and continues — to change the borough the Radio Silence rapper once knew.
“I’m ignorant about what’s going on Brooklyn,” Talib tells Bourdain. “Where I moved to now is by Myrtle Ave. When I was growing up it was called ‘Murder Ave.’ I walk down there’s an organic grocery and it’s like white guys with beards. Which, I’m not mad at it. But it’s something that’s so different I didn’t recognize it.”
Yasiin Bey (The Getaway, 2014)
From 2013 to 2014, Bourdain executive-produced a television series titled The Getaway, which followed celebrities as they ventured through their favorite or dream destinations for a quick trip. For one particular episode, Bourdain followed Yasiin Bey and Ferrari Sheppard through Morocco, where the pair participated in a night market as well as listened to traditional Gnawa music at restaurant Dar Mohar.
DJ Kool Herc (Parts Unknown, 2014)
In 2018, hip-hop is a worldwide phenomenon. But when it was first created, the music genre — and the culture that came with it — started out in the Bronx. And it’s all thanks to the man who has been called both the “Founder of Hip-Hop” and the “Father of Hip-Hop” — DJ Kool Herc.
“Moodies Records. Inside rummaging for records just like he used to do, is the man, the legend, one of the very select few who started it all. Who created the sound that hundreds of millions of people now claim as their own,” Bourdain says in the “Bronx” episode of Parts Unknown as Herc searches through records. “Google ‘Who created hip-hop?’ Go ahead. You get DJ Kool Herc.”
Questlove (Parts Unknown, 2015)
“Every time I check Instagram, you’re eating with one of my culinary heroes,” Bourdain tells Questlove as they meet at Miami restaurant Yardbird Southern Table & Bar for deviled eggs, fried green tomatoes, and other delicacies in this Parts Unknown episode. As the pair dines together, Questlove also explains what makes up the Miami sound that impacted dance music.
“You can’t say something specific like ‘Well Philadelphia had orchestral strings in their arrangements whereas Stax Records had organ in theirs.’ But I do consider the sound of Miami to be the beginning of really great dance music,” Questlove explains.
This same episode also features an appearance from 2 Live Crew‘s Luther Campbell, where the rapper and entrepreneur takes Bourdain to MLK Restaurant in Liberty City.
Lupe Fiasco (Parts Unknown, 2016)
Bourdain’s “Chicago” episode features a number of guest appearances, including one from Lupe Fiasco and his mother, Shirley. As the group eats in Shirley’s home, both Lupe and his mom talk about the violence that plagues Chicago while also speaking to what makes the city so great.
“It’s a beautiful place. It’s a genuinely beautiful place. You have to redefine what beauty is to you,” Lupe explains. “When you go to different neighborhoods and it’s really bad. And even in that, there’s still a beauty in the people.”
“Then just from a cultural front, we got everything here. If you want capoeira, we got capoeira. If you want house music we got that too. If you want straight finance and you want to just be a stock market baron we got that too. If you want some of the best food you’ll ever find we got that too,” he adds. “So we’re a crossroads, and we’ve picked up a lot of little DNA and things from different places on all fronts.”
Slim Thug (Parts Unknown, 2016)
“LA may have lowriders but Houston has slab, its own car culture with its own accompanying sound, its own chopped and screwed hip-hop style,” Bourdain says as scenes of renovated cars are shown. Depending on who you ask, slab has different meanings. “Slow, low and bangin’,” “Slow, loud and bangin'” — even though the acronym’s meaning differs, there’s no denying its ties to Houston rap culture, which is highlighted in this episode of Parts Unknown.
With Slim Thug as his guide, Bourdain learns about what’s needed to create a slab car and how each one comes with its own distinct personality.