PEOPLE spent three days with Anthony Bourdain whereas he filmed an episode of Components Unknown. Decide up the newest concern, on newsstands Friday, to get a better have a look at his life on the highway, his final journey ideas and secrets and techniques from the set.
Anthony Bourdain extinguishes his Marlboro Purple earlier than heading right into a Popeyes in Lafayette, La., on a wet February night—his third journey to the fried-chicken chain in three days whereas on the town to movie the upcoming June 17 Cajun-themed episode of his CNN present Components Unknown. Bourdain has been frequenting this spot—the place he orders the mac and cheese, spicy fried rooster and biscuits and gravy with a fountain Dr. Pepper—as a result of, as in each metropolis he visits, he’s carried out his analysis.
The chef turned journey TV host is aware of that this specific Popeyes, a seven-minute stroll from the DoubleTree Hilton resort the place he’s staying, is the final remaining location within the U.S. with a buffet—and having simply eaten his approach by Bhutan and Hong Kong, he’s in an all-you-can-eat sort of temper for one thing totally different.
“To me, Popeyes is exotica,” he tells PEOPLE on this week’s concern, on newsstands Friday. “I used to be consuming noodles and roast goose and Chinese language meals for the previous 10 days. So to be again and eat some Americana meals, effectively, I’ll weep with gratitude at macaroni and cheese.”
Indulging purely for pleasure is uncommon for Bourdain, 61. He and his tight-knit six-person movie crew—lots of whom have labored with him since his first foray into tv in 2002 on Meals Community’s A Prepare dinner’s Tour—spend about 10 days in every metropolis searching for out indigenous delicacies and the locals who make it finest. All of Bourdain’s waking hours, together with his meals, are meticulously scheduled by a producer for the sequence, at present in its 11th season.
“They fight to not beat up on me and never schedule two massive consuming and consuming scenes in sooner or later,” says Bourdain, who will typically quick off-camera to maintain his urge for food sturdy on-set.
Whereas most days begin early for Bourdain, on this morning in Lafayette, he has a “gloriously late name time” so he can down “two massive jugs of espresso” for breakfast, retreat as much as his resort room to do some writing (he pens all his voiceovers for Components Unknown), and sneak in a nap.
At three p.m. he meets his driver, who will take him to the episode’s largest meals scene, the fais-dodo, a Cajun dance get together set underneath an infinite white tent within the yard of a buddy he met whereas filming a earlier episode. Bourdain has researched the historical past of the fais-dodo and the folks he’ll encounter there, however all the things else that occurs is spontaneous.
“We’ll present sufficient backstory, however there’s no script,” says the episode’s producer Jeff Allen. “Tony simply arms himself with data.”
The crew have been on the scene for hours to arrange and collect additional footage so by the point Bourdain reveals up, the party-goers have forgotten they’re being filmed. “Everybody ought to consider these crew guys as, at worst, an annoying relative with a digital camera. Not as an invading military from outdoors,” says Bourdain. “Alcohol helps and subsequently, it’s not simply my accountability, however the accountability of the crew to drink.”
His impossibly cool demeanor (he wears all his personal garments—often denims and T-shirts—and doesn’t trouble with hair or make-up for filming) and basic uninterest with being the star of the present assist to set the locals comfortable.
“Ideally I shut up and let different folks discuss. Or if I ask quite a lot of silly questions, we’ll edit these out,” he says. “The purpose is, it’s not about me, it’s about getting folks to a spot the place they really feel comfy sufficient to say fascinating issues about who they’re, the place they arrive from and what makes them completely happy.”
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As a result of he spends roughly 250 days a 12 months on the highway, Bourdain says the Components Unknown workforce “has grow to be like my dysfunctional household. On the finish of the shoot, quite a lot of instances we hang around for hours consuming someplace just like the breakfast nook slash bar within the resort.”
However he additionally makes time, albeit extraordinarily restricted time, for his circle of relatives. Bourdain by no means shoots two cities back-to-back. As an alternative he reserves about 5 days a month to spend with Ariane, his 11-year-old daughter, who lives together with his ex-wife Ottavia Busia, a mixed-martial-arts fighter, in New York.
“I’ll return, see my daughter, unpack, repack, mimic a standard life, which is awfully pleasurable to me,” says the star, who additionally additional complicates his hectic journey schedule by planning journeys to Rome to go to his girlfriend, actress Asia Argento, between shoots. “I actually love doing laundry. Once I go residence, placing my laundry within the machine after which listening to the dryer going round, that’s very comforting to me.”
Although that doesn’t imply Bourdain is able to put away his passport (he’s on his 12th) and retire to one of many almost 100 nations he’s visited anytime quickly. “I gave up on that. I’ve tried. I simply suppose I’m simply too nervous, neurotic, pushed,” he says. “I might have had a special reply a couple of years in the past. I might need deluded myself into pondering that I’d be completely happy in a hammock or gardening. However no, I’m fairly positive I can’t. I’m going to just about die within the saddle.”
Components Unknown airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on CNN.