Chef Deb

10 Inspiring Life Lessons from Chef Anthony Bourdain

10 Inspiring Life Lessons from Anthony Bourdain Chef Deb Culinary Business Coach

The culinary world lost a legend today – Chef Anthony Bourdain. It’s always heartbreaking to hear about the death of someone who inspired so many and had such talent. My heart goes out to his friends and family and all of the chefs (including myself) who looked up to him in many ways. One of the incredible things about him was his “lucky breaks” as he called them that took him from his humble beginnings in the New Jersey suburbs to graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in 1978 to having multiple TV shows where he got to travel the globe and experience food from various cultures.

His knowledge on food and commanding personality eventually landed him a job as the executive chef of the NYC Brasserie Les Halles.  Perhaps what really put him on the map was his popular book “Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly” which gave people a behind the scenes of what really goes on in America’s restaurant kitchens.

Clearly, he went from an average joe to a celebrity chef who’s net worth is $16 million as of 2018 according to Celebrity Net Worth. Talk about inspiring! I thought that it would be nice to share some of Chef Anthony Bourdain’s quotes that he has shared during his lifetime to remember his work and to hopefully inspire you in your own culinary journey.

1) Show up on time.

“I learned this from the mentor who I call Bigfoot in Kitchen Confidential. If you didn’t show up 15 minutes exactly before your shift — if you were 13 minutes early — you lost the shift, you were sent home. The second time you were fired. It is the basis of everything. I make all my major decisions on other people based on that. Give the people you work with or deal with or have relationships with the respect to show up at the time you said you were going to.”

2) The “don’t f*** up” instinct is much more important than the “I’ve got to keep this going” instinct.

“People are going to offer you a lot of things, and I always have to ask myself, “Okay. This might be good and profitable today or tomorrow, but will this thing be good for me in a year or in two years when everybody thinks I’m an asshole for having done it?” I was offered a project years ago. It would have been spectacularly profitable franchise. And I went in with my partners, and we met with someone who’s very, very good at this business and would have no doubt made us spectacularly wealthy. We all emerged from the meeting and looked at each other, and I said, “Look, do you want to answer, when the phone rings, do you want to pick it up and have that guy on the other end? Do you want that person in your life? We’ll all be f******miserable. I don’t want to go on that ride. I want to keep the assholes in my life to an absolute minimum, if not zero.” That’s worth real, real money — to not have assholes in your life.”

3) Regret is something you’ve got to just live with, you can’t drink it away.

“You can’t run away from it. You can’t trick yourself out of it. You’ve just got to own it. I’ve disappointed and hurt people in my life, and that’s just something I’m going to have to live with. If you made the basic decision that even in spite of your crimes, you are worth persevering, that it’s worth trying to get good things for yourself, even though you might not deserve them, then you eat that guilt and you live with it. And you own it. You own it for life.”

4)  Travel changes you.

“As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life – and travel – leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks – on your body or on your heart – are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.”

5) Good food is very often, even most often, simple food

6) “Writer’s block,” like many things, is an excuse you give yourself 

7)  You learn a lot about someone when you share a meal together

8)  Skills can be taught. Character you either have or don’t have

9)  What nicer thing can you do for somebody than make them breakfast? 

10) “I’ve long believed that good food, good eating, is all about risk.

Whether we’re talking about unpasteurized Stilton, raw oysters or working for organized crime ‘associates,’ food, for me, has always been an adventure.”