Anthony Bourdain Opens Up About His 'Happiest Moments' in Posthumous Interview
By Antoinette Bueno
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Anthony Bourdain opened up about what makes him happy and raising his daughter, Ariane, in an intimate interview before his death.
The late chef spoke to Maria Bustillos from the magazine Popula last February, and the lengthy interview was published on Sunday. In June, Bourdain was found dead in a French hotel, with his death later being ruled a suicide. He was 61 years old.
In the interview, Bourdain discussed his philosophy on travel and life, including why putting roots down in one place was not for him -- though the issue was never about money.
"I’m not materialist… look, I like expensive plumbing, I like a really nice hotel room, especially after I’ve been staying in some really rough ones," he clarified. "The way I acquire things has really changed over the years; maybe that’s a function of age, and two marriages. I know very much what won’t make me happy. The perfect car will not make me happy. The perfect house will probably make me sad, and terrified."
"Well, because… a house is a commitment, you know?" he continued. "You have to take care of it. It’s like any beautiful thing you have to maintain and protect. And then you also have to consider who gets it after you’re gone. And so even books and records, which I… books in particular, I have a lot of books that I really love. When I acquire one that I really love it’s difficult for me, because I think about… who does one pass this on to? Even works of art, things like that; who will appreciate it the same way? You cannot take it with you. You know?"
Above all, Bourdain valued a sense of freedom.
"As much as I look at houses sometimes and think wow, that would be really nice, if that were my house, I know that I would be miserable," he noted. "It would be… cleaning out the… the gutters, and you know, what about the pipes freezing, and if you own a home it means you have to vacation in the same place every year. I’m a renter by nature. I like the freedom to change my mind about where I want to be in six months, or a year. Because I’ve also found you might have to make that decision… you can’t always make that decision for yourself, you know… sh** happens."
"I don’t feel complicit; I think money is sh**," he added. "You know… how much you spend on a thing… If I spend a couple thousand dollars on sushi for two, I don’t feel guilty about that."
Bourdain added, "I do find that my happiest moments on the road are not standing on the balcony of a really nice hotel. That’s a sort of bittersweet -- if not melancholy -- alienating experience, at best."
Instead, Bourdain said his best moments while filming generally didn't involve lots of money or the most fancy lodgings.
"My happiest moments on the road are always off-camera, generally with my crew, coming back from shooting a scene and finding ourselves in this sort of absurdly beautiful moment, you know, laying on a flatbed on those things that go on the railroad track, with a putt-putt motor, goin’ across like, the rice paddies in Cambodia with headphones on," he described. "This is luxury, because I could never have imagined having the freedom or the ability to find myself in such a place, looking at such things."
"To sit alone or with a few friends, half-drunk under a full moon, you just understand how lucky you are; it’s a story you can’t tell," he continued. "It’s a story you almost by definition, can’t share. I’ve learned in real time to look at those things and realize: I just had a really good moment."
Bourdain also opened up about his 11-year-old daughter, Ariane.
"[My girlfriend] Asia said this to me, 'Children create themselves independently of us,'" he shared. "All you can do is show, like in my case, my daughter feels loved. She knows she’s loved. She has good self-esteem. Very important. And good martial arts skills. So no man, no boy ... can get the better of her. She knows she can take any boy in her age group. That’s all I can do as a father. I can’t pick all of the things that, you know. I can’t. She's so far… ahead of me, I can’t pick her music, her boyfriends, whatever, however she’s going to turn out. I can give her these basic things."
"I think how resolute she is, how much she wants to change the world, is willing to sacrifice in order to change the world, that’s gonna have to come from within," he further noted.
"No really and truly not at all, I’m just a guy who saw what his girlfriend and her friends uh… you know. I saw a lot," he responded.
"I grew up sort of, you know, in a really post-hippie time, you know, where people were learning to say yes," he also shared about his own background. "You know, I went to a women’s university, surrounded by women, I started my career in Provincetown which is 90 percent gay, and whatever mentality or ethos existed in my early kitchens, most of which were in the West Village (an important distinction) it was very, yes, it was very sexually liberated, everybody slept with everybody, but it was also not a thing -- you don’t hit on women, not because of any ethical consideration, but because that wasn’t cool! That was just not -- that what the football team did."
"Sports, fu**ing hated them," he also said at one point. "Always hated sports. Again, it goes back to that '60s thing… I just wanna f**king survive. I don’t need to be number one. I don’t need to beat the fu** out of somebody. I don’t need to be ahead. I just want to still be here at the end of the f**kin’ day, doing what I’m doing, without anybody hassling me."
According to Manhattan Surrogate Court documents obtained by ET earlier this month, the bulk of the Parts Unknown host’s $1.21 million estate is going to Ariane. Bourdain’s estranged wife, Ottavia Busia-Bourdain, was chosen as the executor of his estate, and he left her all his “personal and household effects” to “dispose of in accordance with what (she) believes to have been my wishes.”