11 Reads by and about Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain was a New York City chef who became a household name after writing the bestselling book Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly.

He achieved further fame with his food and travel show No Reservations, which aired on the Travel Channel for nine seasons. Bourdain also wrote a number of other books, both fiction and non-fiction, before his death in 2018.

This post features 11 nonfiction books written by or about Anthony Bourdain and a list of the fiction books he wrote.

Anthony Bourdain Books

1. Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly

Kitchen Confidential

Published: 2000

Pages: 307

In his best-selling book, Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain lifts the veil on the fascinating and sometimes brutal world of professional cooking. Bourdain pulls no punches as he describes the gritty reality of working in a kitchen, from the long hours and grueling conditions to the hierarchy of the kitchen staff.

However, he also writes with candor and humor about the camaraderie and creativity found in a well-run kitchen. With millions of copies sold, Kitchen Confidential has become essential reading for anyone interested in pursuing a career in the culinary arts.

In this updated edition, Bourdain includes a new afterword in which he reflects on the changes that have taken place in the restaurant industry since he first wrote it.

2. Typhoid Mary: An Urban Historical

Typhoid Mary: An Urban Historical

Published: 2001

Pages: 160

This book tells the story of Mary Mallon, also known as Typhoid Mary. In the early 1900s, Mary was a cook in New York City. She was responsible for several outbreaks of typhoid fever, but she refused to believe that she was sick.

As a result, she continued to work and spread the disease to others. However, unlike the legends tell, she probably only infected less than fifty people, and only three died.

Eventually, Mary was quarantined by the health department and sadly spent the rest of her life in isolation.

Bourdain tells Mary's story with compassion and insight, showing how her story is representative of the challenges faced by immigrants and women in America.

3. A Cook's Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines

A Cook's Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines

Published: 2001

Pages: 274

In this incredible book, Anthony Bourdain takes readers on a culinary journey to some of the world's most remote and exotic locations. From feasting on live octopus in Korea to sampling scorpion soup in China, Bourdain sheds light on international cuisine's often bizarre and always fascinating world.

While his writing is often humorous, Bourdain also provides intriguing insights into the cultural significance of food and its role in human societies.

In addition to chronicling his culinary adventures, Bourdain also interviews various chefs, food writers, and other experts, providing a wealth of information on the subject.

Whether you're a seasoned traveler or armchair adventurer, A Cook's Tour shows you a world beyond your imagination.

4. Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook: Strategies, Recipes, and Techniques of Classic Bistro Cooking

Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles Cookbook

Published: 2004

Pages: 304

Bourdain provides readers with a behind-the-scenes look at the classic French bistro. Bourdain reveals the secrets to creating authentic bistro cuisine through a combination of strategies, recipes, and techniques.

In addition to using fresh ingredients, Bourdain also advocates for simplicity in cooking. He believes that good food does not need to be complicated or fussy.

And you can be sure that his writing style is exactly phrased as if you were inside his kitchen with him over your shoulder, for better or worse depending on how much you screw it up.

Instead, it should be honest and straightforward. Bourdain provides readers with everything they need to make pretty much anything from his restaurant with these principles in mind. The photos in it are incredibly helpful and quite beautiful.

5. The Nasty Bits: Collected Varietal Cuts, Usable Trim, Scraps, and Bones

The Nasty Bits

Published: 2006

Pages: 288

The Nasty Bits is a collection of Bourdain's essays on food, published in 2006. These essays were written for his column in the New Yorker and articles that originally appeared in other magazines such as Rolling Stone and GQ.

He offers his unique perspective on the world of food, which is often humorous and irreverent. Interestingly, they are arranged by taste: Salty, Sweet, Sour, Bitter, Umami. Therefore, you will get an idea of what type of story or rant, depending on his mood or taste, where he has put them.

The updated version has commentary and thoughts from Bourdain about each essay at the end of the book.

6. No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach

No Reservations

Published: 2007

Pages: 288

If you have seen the show on tv, you’ll easily be able to guess what this book is about just by the title. It is an insightful and entertaining account of Anthony Bourdain's experiences as a world-renowned chef and author.

Bourdain chronicles his globe-trotting adventures in searching for the perfect meal in this book. He takes readers to some of the most exotic and remote corners of the world, where he samples local cuisine and observes the customs and culture of the people he meets.

Along the way, Bourdain provides readers with a behind-the-scenes look at the restaurant industry and offers his unique insights on various topics, from the politics of food to the art of fine dining.

With gorgeous photos and more, No Reservations will appeal to anyone with a taste for adventure or a love of great food.

7. Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook

Medium Raw

Published: 2010

Pages: 281

As with Kitchen Confidential, Bourdain pulls no punches here, calling out everything from bad working conditions to unsustainable farming practices.

He also has some harsh words for the celebrity chefs who have turned cooking into a spectator sport. Despite all this, Bourdain still has a deep love for food and those who prepare it, even Alice Waters, who he had often disparaged.

He celebrates the traditions and cultures that have given us such delicious dishes, and he salutes the hardworking men and women who work in kitchens around the world. An example of this is the gentleman who works for hours cleaning and cutting fish to make them perfect.

It's a complex book, full of anger and hope in equal measure. And it's sure to provoke plenty of discussion among food lovers.

8. Appetites: A Cookbook

Appetites: A Cookbook

Published: 2016

Pages: 304

Written in his 50s, this is a different Bourdain than in his early books. Drawing on his extensive experience in the kitchen, Bourdain offers a collection of simple yet delicious recipes that are perfect for any occasion.

Appetites has something for everyone, from quick and easy weeknight dinners to show-stopping party dishes. In addition to traditional favorites like roast chicken and spaghetti and meatballs, the book also features several international flavors, such as Vietnamese pho and Moroccan tagine.

Appetites makes it easy to create restaurant-quality dishes at home with clear and concise instructions. The photos in it are very different from his other books as they are a bit more artistic and not always “pretty” ones of food.

9. World Travel: An Irreverent Guide

World Travel: An Irreverent Guide

Published: 2021

Pages: 480

This book was written when Bourdain and his assistant, Laurie Woolever, met for a one-hour discussion. That happened just a few months before he committed suicide. This is basically a book tracking each of the countries he visited, their cities, the places where he ate, and information about them.

Instead of the usual acerbic wit where Bourdain rips apart others or praises them, this is more of a travelogue in a way. So, if you are looking for his spark and wit, you probably won’t find this book to your liking.

The Two Best Books about Anthony Bourdain

10. Bourdain: The Definitive Oral Biography

Bourdain: The Definitive Oral Biography

Written by: Laurie Woolever

Published: 2021

Pages: 384

Though he is no longer with us, Anthony Bourdain's influence on the food world is still very much felt. In her new book, Laurie Woolever seeks to capture the man in all his complexity through a series of interviews with those who knew him best.

Bourdain was many things - a chef, a writer, a TV host - but above all else, he was a storyteller. He had a way of making even the most mundane experiences seem exciting and exotic. The result is a fascinating portrait of a larger-than-life personality.

This gift for storytelling is what made him such a successful author and television personality. It is also what made him so beloved by his fans.

11. In the Weeds: Around the World and Behind the Scenes with Anthony Bourdain

In the Weeds

Written by: Tom Vitale

Published: 2021

Pages: 304

In his new book, In the Weeds: Around the World and Behind the Scenes with Anthony Bourdain, author Tom Vitale chronicles his time spent with the world-famous chef and television personality. Being that Vitale was the director and producer of No Reservations, The Layover, and Parts Unknown, he has a knowledge of the man, unlike most people.

Vitale first met Bourdain while working as a producer on Parts Unknown's hit show. Since then, he has traveled with Bourdain to some of the most remote and dangerous corners of the globe, including Iraq, Haiti, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In addition to providing a behind-the-scenes look at Bourdain's work, Vitale's book also gives readers a glimpse into Bourdain's personal life, including his struggles with addiction and depression.