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Style & Living Food and Drinks

7 Life Lessons We Learned from Anthony Bourdain's New Cookbook (Plus a Killer Recipe)

These tips will also save your parties, every time.

By Salma Abdelnour

Anthony Bourdain's latest cookbook, Appetites, launches today, and it finds the one-liner-spewing, planet-traipsing chef in rare form. As usual. The Parts Unknown star can barely get through a "hi" without dropping a couple of aphorisms for the ages, and his latest book is packed full of them. Oh, and there are recipes too. We've included an easy one below, and we guarantee it'll help you slay the holiday party circuit. And in case the cover art rings a bell: It was designed by Ralph Steadman, who did the seminal cover of Hunter S. Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. But first, a few notes we gleaned as we paged through, looking for the spicy noodle recipes (Malaysian laksa, found!) we'll be self-medicating with this winter. Photos by Bobby Fisher.

1. The right kind of tomato soup will save your life

Bourdain likes cream of tomato soup because it reminds him of when he was beat up in second grade, and his mom made him soup from a can—"you know what can I'm talking about." His own tomato soup recipe is included in Appetites, and it doesn't involve a can, at least not a soup can (although you might buy the canned version of peeled plum tomatoes that the recipe calls for). But however homemade your soup is, "it should not wander too far from the stuff that comes in a can."

2. Beware the sausage and pepper hero

The ubiquitous sausage heroes at New York City street fairs are incredibly messy, highly dubious, and totally irresistible, and they make him "sh** like a mink." His recipe "will hopefully spare you the terrible personal cost of having to score on the street."

3. Never feed sausage and gravy to a four-star French chef

Watching a French chef eat Southern-style sausage gravy with biscuits is an experience that will scar you. Bourdain tried to feed the dish to celebrity chef Eric Ripert, and compared the event to "feeding a grape to a dog" and watching the dog stare at you, totally confused, having no idea what to do. Here's Ripert, eating pasta this time, "Bourdain style," and knowing exactly what to do:

4. Club sandwiches are f***ed

Club sandwiches are "f***ed from the get-go," says Bourdain. The third slice of bread, the one in the middle of an otherwise delightful sandwich, ruins everything and creates "a plate full of broken dreams." Go ahead and eat that club sandwich. It's probably pretty damn good. Just light the third slice on fire.

5. Coke is for curing hangovers and pork

Cola is only for "fighting the effect of a hangover" and for braising pork shoulder. "It's a wholly unnecessary category of beverage for all other occasions."

6. Brunch still sucks

But a fresh and well-made hollandaise sauce—despite the vitriol he directed at the brunch cliché in Kitchen Confidential"can still be a beautiful thing."

7. Pigs in a blanket rule the world

No matter how fancy you get with the food you serve at your parties, how much you labor over the stunning hors d'oeuvres, the only dish that will make any impression are the pigs in a blanket. "What everybody loves, what they will be all over in a swarm, every time, is commercially made freezer-sourced pigs in f***ing blankets." They'll also swarm over these bar nuts, so whip up a batch, thaw the frozen pigs, and call it a day.

The Grill Bitch’s Bar Nuts

Bourdain writes, "I first worked with Beth Aretsky, who later came to identify herself as 'the Grill Bitch,' at One Fifth, one of the many long-gone New York City restaurants of my checkered career. She created these spicy and sweet bar nuts, which caused many a customer to linger over drinks far beyond the advisable cutoff point. They are truly addictive."

Makes 8 cups


4 large egg whites

5 pounds mixed nuts

½ cup granulated sugar

¼ cup light brown sugar, packed

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1½ tablespoons ground cayenne pepper

1½ tablespoons salt

Special equipment:

2 (9 × 13-inch) sheet pans lined

with parchment paper or

silicone mats

Preheat the oven to 325˚F.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites until they are foamy and nearly stiff.

In another mixing bowl, combine the nuts, sugars, cinnamon, cayenne, and salt and toss to coat. Fold in the egg whites, tossing gently to make sure that all the nuts have been coated in egg white.

Divide the mixture evenly between the two prepared sheet pans.

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pans and stirring the nuts at the 15-minute

mark. The nuts should be dry and crisp after 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let cool before serving. 

Reprinted by permission from Appetites: A Cookbook (Ecco, 2016).

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