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Three years ago today, we lost iconic cook and traveler Anthony Bourdain. He used TV to show us faraway places and tasty food. Celebrate his legacy with us.

What was the best Anthony Bourdain show? Celebrate his life with a recap

Anthony Bourdain didn’t just expand our flavor palates – he also broadened our understanding of the world. He ate food we would have never tried and journeyed to countries we were too afraid to visit. Throughout his career, Bourdain had various shows including A Cook’s Tour, No Reservations, Parts Unknown, The Layover, and more. 

We believe that it’s almost impossible to pick which show by Bourdain was the ultimate series. Each show featured a different phase of Bourdain’s life and journeys. Instead of selecting the best show, we’re going to narrow down some of our favorite episodes from the legendary chef/adventurer. 

It’s been three years to the day since Bourdain passed away, so join us as we revisit his show’s gems and celebrate the life of Anthony Bourdain. 

Parts Unknown: “Iran” (season 4, episode 6)

“I’m so . . . confused. It wasn’t supposed to be like this,” Bourdain stated at the beginning of the episode. “Of all the places, of all the countries, of all the years of traveling, it’s here, in Iran, that I’m greeted most warmly by total strangers.” This eye-opening episode of Parts Unknown first aired in 2014. 

Bourdain threw out any concept of negative political narrative which was intense in the United States at the time and even still now. Instead, he saw the country as it truly was by its friendly population and vibrant traditional cuisine. Bourdain further proved that countries shouldn’t be judged by their politics but by the kindness of their people. 

No Reservations: “Iceland” (season 1, episode 2)

This is an episode of No Reservations where Bourdain actually didn’t like what he was eating, or even more, was too jet-lagged to express his distaste. After what was a tumultuous journey to Iceland, Bourdain continued to find himself in numerous setbacks & oddities such as running into a skinhead rock band and getting stuck in a blizzard.

As the episode comes to a close, Bourdain finally gets a bowl of the local delicacy, hákarl, fermented shark. As he takes a bite into the dish, we can tell just from his face the dissatisfaction with not only the meal but perhaps his entire journey. It’s a harsh reminder to travelers that sometimes your trip just doesn’t go as planned but you just have to laugh at it all.    

Parts Unknown: “Thailand” (season 3, episode 7)

Bourdain’s drunken journey through Chiang Mai’s culinary world is entertainment at its best. Through the hot & sticky summer nights of Northern Thailand, Bourdain and chef Andy Ricker wander through the countless street vendors and have a taste of the local favorites. 

Both sentimental and rowdy, Bourdain shows the colorful Thai nightlife filled with delicious braised meats & never-ending alcoholic drinks. These elements seem to strike Bourdain as heart-warming and thrilling in a way he never expected.

Parts Unknown: “Lagos” (season 10, episode 3)

Shot on 16mm film and directed by Morgan Fallon, this episode feels more like an award-winning documentary than a food/travel show. Beautifully shot and deeply researched, Bourdain delves into the bustling Nigerian city which has so much to offer. 

In the episode, Bourdain says, “They say that where there’s a will, there’s a way. And there is plenty of will in Nigeria. Find a niche, create a business, build a home, a school, a community, or look beyond to creating a new society.” Bourdain highlights the extraordinary men & women who are tirelessly working to create a better life for the population. 

A Cook’s Tour: “My Life as a Cook” (season 1, episode 20)

Bourdain reached his peak of fame later on in life. This episode from his first show, A Cook’s Tour, goes back to the early days of Bourdain’s career. We watch the iconic New York City chef travel back to his roots in Provincetown, Massachusetts. 

This episode is special because not only do we get to see the first restaurant Bourdain worked at in 1974, but also feel a bit closer to the chef we all know & love. This episode is both personal and entertaining for viewers and remains a fan favorite. 

Three years ago today, we lost an iconic chef & traveler. We hope these episodes will bring comfort to fans looking to rewatch Bourdain’s best moments. Which Anthony Bourdain show is your favorite? Have you seen any of our personal favorites? Let us know in the comments below!

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