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Anthony Bourdain: Express Yourself Through Authentic Content

The news of his passing created a ripple effect in the media that undoubtedly affected millions of people around the world – especially when the reports of how he died were confirmed. However, this post is not designed to reflect on the death of Anthony Bourdain but the value of his life.

A life that was full of well-deserved accomplishments and accolades that were cherished and respected by Anthony’s friends, family and fans around the globe. He seemed to travel quite a few roads throughout his life and career that allowed him to embark on numerous adventures. Anthony Bourdain built a solid reputation associated with his name that created a vast range of various personal achievements and professional titles that essentially defined him.

Celebrity chef. Adored, Emmy-winning television personality and producer. Line cook and longtime dishwasher with an unbelievable sense of pride in both professions. A man known for his blunt honesty and refusal to hold his tongue. Advocate for the #MeToo Movement. Expert slayer of Twitter trolls. Published author of 13 books with multiple titles that made waves on the New York Times bestseller list. World traveler. Lover of fine and exotic cuisine, tattoos, and exotic foods – except for airline food and warthog rectum. Loyal friend. Devoted father.

Those in the world of content marketing respected and adored Anthony Bourdain as a creator, lover and defender of quality content.

Published Novelist Before a Celebrity Chef

Many people do not know that Anthony Bourdain was a novelist and short-story writer first long before he became a celebrity chef. He submitted a piece to a literary journal in 1985 and wrote two crime novels – Bone in the Throat and Gone Bamboo – in 1995 and 1997 respectively.

As referenced above, his love for writing continued to reveal itself in the art of publication even after his journey to fortune and fame focused on his culinary expertise instead of his exquisite content. He published 13 books – including 5 fiction titles. He even co-wrote a graphic novel.

Anthony Bourdain was a man who used to get up before dawn to type up a new passage before starting his 12-hour restaurant shift. This was a man who financed his own book tour and remembers sitting at tables in Barnes & Noble being intentionally ignored by the people who would walk past his table.

He was not an overnight success with his writing. He sent a vast number of unsolicited manuscripts to the editor of that downtown literary journal in the 1980s before eventually getting a story approved for publishing. He may have made the bestselling list and acquired international notoriety and critical acclaim for his later work – such as Kitchen Confidential – but his first two crime novels were initially pulled from the shelves and out of print.

However, his lack of success and exposure did not extinguish the fire of content creation burning within him. He just kept creating and eventually the spotlight of exposure shined on his work.

A Valuable Lesson: Just because your “early work” does not get the exposure and traffic that you expect or even desire does not mean that you will not eventually get it. Passion and persistence are two cornerstones of content creation and marketing. Think of the massive sea of content that is filled with authors, bloggers and other content writers. The pool of persistent writers and creators who keep at it, though, is much smaller in comparison. Remember: Five years separated the underperforming Bone in the Throat crime novel from the bestselling memoir Kitchen Confidential. You must give yourself time to develop your content, polish your craft, find your voice and build your audience.

“Don’t Eat Before Reading This”

Many people may not realize that Anthony Bourdain made a name for himself as a writer and built the foundation of his future fame and international stardom on an essay.

The New Yorker published his essay, “Don’t Eat Before Reading This” in 1999 – an essay that would later lay the groundwork for his bestselling memoir, Kitchen Confidential. Bourdain found a creative way to combine his behind-the-scenes restaurant knowledge and culinary expertise with his longtime passion as a writer to create the highly-respected essay structured as a source of advice for the average restaurant customer.

Within the paragraphs of his published essay, you find an abundance of artistically-crafted sentences driven by an expeditious expert train of thought and blunt honesty. Over the years, Bourdain was known for holding nothing back – especially when it came to the quality (or lack thereof) of restaurants, chefs and menu options.

His essay, “Don’t Eat Before Reading This” provides a formal introduction to that uncensored, unfiltered honesty that fans eventually flocked to Anthony Bourdain to experience and enjoy:

  • Chef Preferences: “The good stuff comes in on Tuesday… Chefs prefer to cook for weekday customers… and they like to start the new week with their most creative dishes.”


  • Why You Should Never Order “Well-Done” Meat: “People who order their meat well-done… pay for the privilege of eating our garbage.”


  • A Cook’s Hatred of “Brunch”: “The ‘B’ word is dreaded by all dedicated cooks… You can dress brunch up with all the focaccia, smoked salmon, and caviar in the world, but it’s still breakfast.”

The massive exposure and recognition that was received by this essay breathed life into the concept of “Kitchen Confidential” – a memoir that proved he had not yet reached the limit of extreme candor with his previously published essay.

Instead of trying to create another fictitious crime novel, Bourdain apparently decided to just express himself through the pages – standing on a literary soapbox of sorts to dissect the hospitality industry from the inside-out.

A Valuable Lesson: Passion begets passion. If you are passionate about your topic, then your audience will become passionate about your content. If you have reached a plateau with your writing or created content, perhaps it is because you have not tapped into that internal passion enough. It is a little too easy in today’s evolving era of the digital age to follow the footsteps of trending topics and other viral content instead of taking the step to create your own path.

However, with passion comes the opportunity of absolute candor and the freedom of expression. In a world of content that is overflowing with fabricated fiction, clickbait and “fake news”, authenticity and honesty are treasured gems that the average consumer is still determined to find and cherish whenever and wherever possible. Allow your content and overall online presence to be a treasure chest for those dedicated honesty hunters.

The Value of Authenticity

If Anthony Bourdain taught nothing else throughout his life, it was the value of authenticity. Instead of focusing on how he died, it is imperative to appreciate the way he lived. Remember: Effective content creators and marketers are always on the lookout for the stories that are not being told instead of following the headlines that are being rehashed and recycled.

We will miss Anthony Bourdain for his authenticity and candor, his passion for quality content and consumption, as well as his somewhat revolutionary approach to building an amazing and noteworthy career on the foundation of his longtime love for writing.

Annie Ianko

Chief Content Officer

Annie has over 20 years of experience as an editor and content creator and manager. With work in television and written media, she has dedicated her past 10 years to learning the ropes of online content creation, from writing to editing, from SEO to content management.

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