Anthony Bourdain's All-Time Favorite Episodes

After 8 season of No Reservations, Anthony Bourdain looks back at some of his favorites.
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"I'm happy with all our Vietnam shows -- probably because I’m always so ludicrously happy to be there. I could just watch the B-roll from those shows all day. It’s a good place to work, a good place to eat. A good place to be." -- Tony Bourdain


"The 2006 Beirut show obviously holds a special place in the memories of all who were involved. Like the war that broke out around us, it happened unexpectedly. That experience changed those of us who were there. And it changed subsequent shows. We never, from that point on, forgot how arbitrary life and death can be, and how harsh life can be for the people we leave behind when we head safely home with our cameras." - Tony Bourdain

Cleveland: Harvey Pekar

"Harvey Pekar. We wanted to celebrate and step inside the life of Cleveland’s greatest chronicler in the style of American Splendor. It took a lot of work and pre-production to do that. But I’m very proud of the result. Not least because I believe so fervently that the late, great Pekar was a uniquely American, wonderful and important man whose life deserves celebrating and remembering. My love for Cleveland is absolute. I may not love it for the reasons some might like -- but I love it just the same. I am honored that Harvey, may he rest in peace, liked the show." -- Tony Bourdain

Hong Kong

Hong Kong, particularly the scene where a third-generation noodle maker practices his craft, rocking painfully and disfiguringly on his bamboo pole under the faded photos of his parents, encompassed everything I believe to be good and true about people who choose to make food the very best they can. It was a beautifully shot and edited sequence -- one of our very best. If our show is principally in the business of celebrating cooks -- wherever they may cook -- and in whatever circumstances -- then this was as good an example of our work as we could ask for." -- Tony Bourdain


"Montana, which opens with the great American author and poet Jim Harrison reading from his work, would have been a proud achievement for that alone: Jim Harrison is in it. That’s enough. But it’s also where I started to look at those parts of America so different than my own -- cowboy country, gun country, red state, Palin bumper sticker America , with a genuine affection I’d previously only felt for Vietnamese and South Americans and Europeans." - Tony Bourdain


"Sardinia was a risky show, because it was so personal, and I had a whole new Italian/Sardinian family looking over my shoulder -- and more perilously -- I had chosen to include my wife. My wife’s father’s family in the mountain towns of that incredibly beautiful island were the best "fixers" any one could have hoped for. The cinematography was incredible. And the editors, in spite of the fact that I was sitting in their laps for much of the cut and making their lives miserable, responded with a beautiful and heartfelt love letter to what is for most people an unfamiliar culture." - Tony Bourdain


"Venice was where we were really hitting a golden period for cinematography, I think. Using film lenses and adhering to a stylebook shamelessly lifted from works like Don’t Look Now and The Comfort of Strangers, we’d do things like wake up very early in the morning to shoot in Piazza San Marco -- intending to make the usually crowded Venice look empty and haunted. It’s an example of a show that came out just as we’d planned, looked and sounded like we wanted it to, and it also had the advantage of being filled with great characters and food." - Tony Bourdain


"Probably my favorite show of all of them. My proudest achievement. Why” Because it was so suicidally stupid. Because no one wanted it. Because everybody thought it was a bad idea to do a show in Rome—that most beautiful and colorful of cities—in black and white. : Instead of run and gun hand held cameras and fast editing, we shot stationary, with film lenses. Instead of no lighting and barely acceptable sound, we lit as if in a studio, made frequent use of subtitles." - Tony Bourdain

El Bulli

"It was the most important restaurant in the world -- in its last days. And the greatest culinary artist of this or last century, Ferran Adria, had agreed to open his life and his kitchen to us. So it was important to get it right. We threw everything we had at it. Every camera, every technical innovation -- every creative idea we could come up with. We got the right guy -- the best guy -- Jose Andres -- to come along and show us, through personal reminisces, what it all meant -- and why it was important." - Tony Bourdain

Holiday Specials

"Our last in a series of Holiday Specials was a high watermark of sorts. It has always been my belief that the pursuit of excellence in television is impossible if one does not regularly seek to cause terror and confusion at one’s network. The network’s sweetheart, Samantha Brown, playing herself as a crazed, vengeful, alcoholic and homicidal shut-in, pumped a bullet into my leg (spraying blood on a stuffed kitten) between pouring schnapps into a bowl of Fruity Pebbles." - Tony Bourdain

Cajun Country

"The pig slaughter and boucherie in the Cajun Country show is a personal favorite. It starts with a prayer. And it’s a scene I’m most grateful to the network for -- for leaving it alone. Pretty disturbing stuff to see a pig shot close-up to the brain. It’s ugly, and painful. But that’s what happens when you take a life for your dinner. And somebody, somewhere does -- every time you order a pork chop. We always work extra hard whenever we shoot in New Orleans or Louisiana -- to do right by them -- as they have been egregiously failed by so many others. Also, we love the place ferociously." -- Tony Bourdain

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