This past May, Anthony Bourdain shared a meal with President Barack Obama in Hanoi, Vietnam for an episode of his CNN show “Parts Unknown” that premiered in September.
The scenario would have sounded like a joke to Bourdain 20 years ago, when he was bouncing around New York City’s restaurant scene, doing whatever he could to make it one day to the next.
Bourdain, 60, has documented in detail his adjustment to the surrealness of the fame that hit him in his 40s with the huge success of bestselling 2000 memoir “Kitchen Confidential” and the television series that followed, but in an interview with Business Insider earlier this year, he explained that only recently has he attained a level of inner peace.
“I know the guy who wrote ‘Kitchen Confidential’ very well,” Bourdain said. “He’s not me anymore. I’m not boiling with rage. I don’t live in this tiny, tunnel-vision world. I had such a limited view of what reality was like outside of the kitchen doors — I had no clue! I never lived with normal people. I lived in the restaurant universe for my entire adult life.”
A major turning point for Bourdain was the birth of his daughter Ariane in 2007. “I’m no longer the star of the movie,” he said. “At all. That’s it!”
“It’s a huge relief in a lot of ways. And it’s such an understatement to say that having a kid changes your life. You’re just no longer the first person you think about or care about. You’re not the most important person in the room. It’s not your film. The music doesn’t play for you — it’s all about the girl. And that changes everything.”
Setting aside his ego has also allowed him to pursue career opportunities that he may have overanalyzed in the past, he explained, such as being the spokesman for the Balvenie whiskey company or appearing as a judge on “Top Chef.”
“I work really hard to not ever think about my place in the world,” he said. He continued:
“I’m aware of my good fortune. I’m very aware of it, and I’m very aware that, because of it, people offer me things. Opportunities to do extraordinary things. The ones that are interesting to me are collaborations. I get to work with people who 10 years ago I wouldn’t have dreamed to have been able to work with. And that’s a big change professionally, and it’s something that I think about a lot.”
Bourdain said he’s now driven by the desire to “play in a creative way” and “not repeat” himself. “I like making things,” he said.
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