My Secret Life: Anthony Bourdain, chef and writer, 55


My parents were... middle class, aspirational, Mad Men-era Democrats who wanted the best for me. They were unusually adventurous about food.

The household I grew up in... A small Dutch colonial house on a tree-lined street in New Jersey. We had a nice back yard.

When I was a child I wanted to... be an underground cartoonist, like Robert Crumb. I was obsessed by the early underground cartoons like Zap – they were filthy and politically radical, and incredibly creative.

If I could change one thing about myself...I'd be able to play bass guitar like Bootsy Collins.

You wouldn't know it but I'm very good at... locating lost Barbie shoes. Handling an AK-47. Flower arranging. Sketching still lifes. Basic first aid. Entertaining a four-year-old girl.

You may not know it but I'm no good at... dancing. Basketball. Karaoke. Remembering birthdays.

At night I dream of... Dick Cheney – in a nappy – being waterboarded.

I wish I'd never worn... a powder-blue Pierre Cardin suit in the Seventies. Other than that, I managed to make it through the decade with dignity intact.

What I see when I look in the mirror... Every fucking year of my life, written on my face. And I deserve every line and crease.

It's not fashionable but I like... cowboy boots. Always did. Always will. Also, Depeche Mode.

I drive... a BMW 5 series family car. It's my first car – of my whole life. At no point until a few years ago could I ever have afforded one. I'm giddy with ownership. And the thing's a beast on the road.

My house is... a rented apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Half seems filled with my daughter's toys, the other half with my wife's martial arts stuff.

My favourite building... The Chateau Marmont hotel in Los Angeles.

A book that changed me... Orwell's essays. Hunter S Thompson's Fear and Loathing.

My secret crush is... Gong Li.

My greatest regret... I never did an apprenticeship in a truly great restaurant kitchen. As a result, I never got really good as a chef. I wonder what it would have been like to have apprenticed with a Michel Bras or Arzak. No serious regrets, though. Things have turned out pretty damned good.

My real-life villains... I guess Dick Cheney is about as repugnant a figure as one could conjure. But Ronald McDonald is probably worse for the world.

The person who really makes me laugh... AA Gill. Chris Rock. My wife.

The last time I cried... Shortly after the birth of my daughter. I was just watching her sleep; started bawling like a motherfucker...

My five-year plan... I plan to just keep on doing what I'm doing as long as I can get away with it; travelling, making television as creatively and as uncompromisingly as I can, writing.

My life in six words... "He wasn't such a bad bastard".

A life in brief

Anthony Bourdain was born in 1956. He graduated from the Culinary Institute of America. Bourdain was executive-chef at New York brasserie Les Halles, and has written numerous bestselling cookery books, crime novels, the candid memoir Kitchen Confidential and its follow-up, Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook. He fronts the TV shows Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations and The Layover. Bourdain lives in Manhattan with his wife and daughter

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