In 'Parts Unknown,' Anthony Bourdain is not a man on a mission

Sat Sep 27, 2014 8:16am EDT
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

By Mary Milliken

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Anthony Bourdain's television travelogue "Parts Unknown" goes to Iran to discover how people live behind the geopolitical smoke screen and to small-town Massachusetts to chronicle the heroin scourge.

But even if the fourth season of his Emmy Award-winning CNN show fosters cultural diplomacy or raises drug awareness, this outspoken New York chef insists he is on no kind of socially minded mission. And he's not an advocate, activist, journalist or expert on anything.

"There have been times I have had an agenda or developed an agenda or came back feeling very strongly about something, but I am not out to make the world a better place or inspire people to do one thing or the other," Bourdain told Reuters ahead of the Season 4 premiere on Sunday.

If, however, more Americans got passports and traveled the world and walked in other people's shoes by seeing his show, he would feel good about that.

"But I am not so pompous as to think that is any kind of a mission of mine," he said. "I am a lucky son of a bitch who gets to travel around the world and talk about it."

It's not just about telling a story for Bourdain, who broke out of the culinary world and into popular culture in 2000 with his best-selling restaurant chef memoir "Kitchen Confidential." He puts a premium on the show's artistic elements, depicting offbeat destinations like Detroit or the Congo with cinematic flourish.

The season stars with "Shanghai." Bourdain says he and his crew take the show to new aesthetic heights, inspired by the joint work of Hong Kong film director Wong Kar Wai and cinematographer Christopher Doyle.

They used splashes of red - in flowers or a handkerchief - and varying camera speeds to mimic the atmospheric effect of films like Wong's "In the Mood for Love." The episode ponders the longing and desire that comes with China's explosive economic growth.   Continued...

Chef and television personality Anthony Bourdain arrives at the 65th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, California September 15, 2013. REUTERS/Jonathan Alcorn