May 25, 2010

Interview with Anthony Bourdain

IMG_1611, originally uploaded by ajcarpinelli.

I was privileged enough to get to speak to Anthony Bourdain on the phone earlier. It was not a lengthy conversation, but it was amazing on several levels. I got a lot of great information for my articles as well as a lot of things I just wanted to personally know. We discusses his cooking career, travel career, personal thoughts, his writing, and so on.
It really made me think about a lot of things. So I apologize now if this starts to sound like a diary entry.
I wrote up a preview for of his speaking engagement at Heinz Hall for the Herald-Standard, and other then that I haven’ really processed much of the interview. This post isn’t a re-hashing of what I am writing for the paper, but rather a more personal observation of why I look up to him.
Bourdain is my hero on several fronts. I look up to him first because we both share the same attitude. He is known for being snarky and a cruel sense of humor, but he really isn’t a bad, mean guy the way you think of say that judge on American Idol, who’s name escapes me. Simon. Anyway, sometimes I think that attitude can come off as just being a jerk, but through Bourdain I now see more people get it then I thought. I mean, he is famous for that attitude after all.
I am a huge fan of his books, and I was never sure why until today. He told me he writes like he talks. He said he doesn’t have the time, or care, to pick every perfect word. He just writes and goes about his life. And that is just it, his books are about the content, not the style. That is my personal preference too. Bourdain said he gets it from the oral tradition of story-telling, and he has a point there.
The other big thing is that he has the job I want. He gets to travel the world, experiencing the cultures. This is something I have always wanted to do, so I made sure to ask about it in the interview. Mainly, he said he always more-or-less got to do it on his own terms, working Travel Channel.
I also wanted to know some of the downsides, and he told me a lot about them, without it sounding bad at all. Then he re-assured me saying “I really do have the best job in the world.” We also discusses the places he still wants to go. I was curious if after so long, he had been everywhere, and was in any way bored. He rattled of a fairly detailed list of places, and then added a lot of places he wanted to go back to. That is pretty impressive, since he told me he is away from home over 200 days a year.
It is good to have it re-affirmed for you that what you want to do in life can not only be done, but that it is entirely possible to have a great time doing it. I know that sounds obvious, but I’m not going down an easy, or common career path. I still think that it takes a certain kind of person to do this work, and that personality is rare. After this interview though, I feel more empowered and confident that I can do it then ever.
I interviewed both of my main heroes in life within half a year of each other, which is an opportunity most people never get. So I am grateful for the opportunities I get, and I know just how lucky I can be. How many people ever meet their heroes at all, let alone all of them before age 23? I just now wonder what new goal I should set myself.

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