Adventurous, cheeky with the censors and very open about speaking of his drug-fuelled past, American chef, author and television personality Anthony Bourdain is as close to a rockstar as a chef can ever be. And he’s just resurfaced in Singapore.
About 2 hours ago, local hawkerpreneur Li Ruifang of 545 Whampoa Prawn Noodles uploaded a series of photos taken with the chef himself, most likely here to film Season 9 of Parts Unknown.
You can check out the rest of her photos here on her Facebook.
Meanwhile, it’s clear that the celebrity chef is having the time of his life at Singapore’s foodie hotspots, and just like any well-seasoned traveller, Bourdain has plenty of tips on how to make the best out of life.
1) A ‘Writer’s Block’, Like Many Things, Is An Excuse You Give Yourself
Albeit not being a trained writer, Bourdain has written more than his fair share of books, articles and essays.
When asked about his explosive literary debut Kitchen Confidential, which became a New York Times Bestseller and boosted him to celebrity chef status, he talked about an “inelegant thought process” in which he “just didn’t give a sh*t at all what people might think (and) just told the truth on every page”.
In fact, he didn’t even think that anyone would read it.
He cites American novelist Elmore Leonard as his inspiration during ‘lower moments’, and that the best way to write a book is to “get in and out (clean and quick)”.
“No such thing as writer’s block; just pick up your Elmore Leonard. Hunter Thompson, William Burroughs, George C. Higgins, George Orwell’s “Down and Out in Paris and London,” those got the job done back then, and they still do.” (Source)
2) Don’t Believe Everything You Read
In spite of the massive success of Kitchen Confidential, his exposé of working life, and in particular working in a kitchen, he reveals his uneasiness on people liking the book for possibly the wrong reasons.
“A lot of people think it’s OK to get f***ed up and work. Kitchen Confidential was not a story about a particularly good or commendable career. It was my life; I wrote it in a way that made it sound like a lot of fun, but obviously it wasn’t. I think a lot of people tend to overlook that. It validates a lot of bad behaviour.” (Source)
With an increasing amount of people and influencers sharing insights on their lives these days, it is easy to envy and emulate their seemingly fun and interesting lives. This is a timely reminder that in many instances, what’s shared publicly is an exaggerated form of reality.
3) Don’t Hang On To Regrets
As someone who describes himself as “a complete a-hole. Selfish, larcenous, druggy, loud, stupid, insensitive and someone you would not want to have known” during his cocaine and heroin-fuelled 20s, you’d expect him to shun his former self or any mention of it.
However, he has this to say, “I look back on that and I think about what I’ll tell my (seven-year-old) daughter. That was daddy, no doubt about it. But I hope I’ll be able to say that was daddy then, this is daddy now. That I’m alive and living in hope.“
Simply feeling lucky to have gotten out of the habit, he states “Look, man, the only thing that matters is life or death. That’s the edge.
Embarrassment, shame, humiliation, I can live with those. I’m used to it. Why hang on to it, though?”
4) Count Your Blessings
From working part-time in a seafood restaurant during his college days, Bourdain has certainly come a long way. An accomplished and recognised chef, writer and tv personality, he defies the adage ‘jack of all trades, master of none’.
In spite of his success, he finds little reminders in his adventures and work of how good life had turned out for him:
“To climb a dune in the Egyptian desert and look out over the desert as the moon’s rising, surrounded by friends that I work with, a belly full of some food that no one outside that time zone ever gets to experience, that’s a “pinch me” moment for sure.
It’s pretty damn awesome for a guy for whom brunch shift is a pretty recent memory. (…) I feel like I’ve stolen a car – a really nice car – and I keep looking in the rearview mirror for flashing lights. But there’s been nothing yet.” (Source)
5) Be Open To Experiences, But Also Remember To Be Smart
Having no holds barred when it comes to experiencing all types of food, Bourdain has eaten sheep testicles, cobra heart and a raw seal eyeball (just to name a few), but states the Chicken McNugget as one of the worst things he has eaten. Yikes.
His unhindered approach is inevitable, given the nature of his hit television shows. However, he dishes a golden nugget (pun intended) of advice which, albeit in regard to alcohol, can definitely make you rethink your next YOLO escapade.
“I’d say, just be open. Don’t be afraid. If it’s appropriate to drink alcohol, drink heavily. Be smart, but be open to the world.” (Source)
Here’s a video of him trying Balut, a Filipino delicacy, among others. It is interesting to note how he approaches it as compared to the host and attempts to put the ‘disgusting’ nature of these foreign foods into perspective.
6) Always Trust The Locals
This is one for the foodies.
Bourdain is no stranger to Singapore, and dishes out (pun intended again) this piece of advice that even Singaporeans can use:
“If you’re in Singapore and there are two chicken and rice places, and there’s one with a huge line, go to the one with the huge line. Already, that’s a clue. If a place is crowded, but the people lining up are not local, that’s a clue—a bad clue.
If it doesn’t have signs in English. it’s almost always worth investigating. I look to see if locals are willing to inconvenience themselves and wait in line for a long time to get something that only costs a dollar fifty, especially if it’s a mixed bag of different incomes.” (Source)
Personally, I remember queuing up for over half an hour for laksa at a stall I’ve not frequented. In true Singaporean culture, when there’s a queue, YOU QUEUE TOO.
And was it worth it? Totally.
7) Harness The Power Of Crowdsourcing
The final tip is also food-related – Bourdain IS a chef after all.
“The other great way to figure out where to eat in a new city is to provoke nerd fury online. Go to a number of foodie websites with discussion boards.
Let’s say you’re going to Kuala Lumpur — just post on the Malaysia board that you recently returned and had the best rendang in the universe, and give the name of a place, and all these annoying foodies will bombard you with angry replies about how the place is bullshit, and give you a better place to go. (Source)
Not just for food, this method can also be used to draw out the general consensus of certain issues that you might be divided on.
Just remember to be responsible about it.
Featured Image Credit: newyorknatives