The lost books of Bourdain

Three years ago, the world lost an example of the American dream. A bottom level chef, dope addict, and workaholic wrote a book that transformed his life and the life of others. Kitchen Confidential boosted Bourdain from a kitchen to television. There were books that came before and after but none of them were as successful as his culinary opus. For some reason his path did not take him into the literary world as he inspired to do, instead he ended up on television throwing insults at Rachel Ray and Emeril Lagasse. That trip didn’t appear to have an ending and somewhere along the way there was the idea for Bourdain to help others become published. An Anthony Bourdain Book became a subdivision of Ecco publishing, the company that published Kitchen Confidential. Every year after 2011, Bourdain picked books, some of them by people he knew, and they were published with his Oprah like stamp on the cover. For seven years this trend continued until Bourdain’s death in 2018. I have come across these books over the years and I have enjoyed every single one. I became curious, how many of these were published? Are there more on the way? Is there a list of all the Bourdain books with his stamp of approval? Sadly, Ecco stopped the publication of Bourdain books in 2018. The last books that Bourdain picked that year were the last to be published with that stamp of approval. The other questions took my down a Google rabbit hole that left me in a world of disappointment. Ecco didn’t have a list of books they had published, only listing items that were still available or still in print. Amazon doesn’t have a category for Anthony Bourdain books although they carry many of the titles I found. eBay was hit or miss with the deciding factor being how the seller listed the item. Even Wikipedia, while it had a listing for Ecco and their subdivision, did not have a list of books that Bourdain published.

The following is the list that I have been able to put together so far:

You’re Better Than Me by Bonnie McFarlane

Pain Don’t Hurt by Mark Miller

Start the Fire by Jeremiah Tower

WD50 by Wylie Dufresne

The Prophets of Smoked Meat by Daniel Vaughn

We Fed an Island by Jose Andres

The Mission Chinese Cookbook by Danny Bowien

Prisoner by Jason Rezaian

Vegetables Unleashed by Jose Andres

Grand Forks by Marilyn Hagerty

L.A. Son by Roy Choi

They call me Supermensch by Shep Gordon

Eating Korea by Graham Holliday

Eating Vietnam by Graham Holliday

Rice Noodle Fish by Matt Goulding

Grape Olive Pig by Matt Goulding

Pasta Pane Vino by Matt Goulding

Hawker Fare by James Syhabout

Adios, Mother Fucker by Michael Ruffino

Stealing Green Mangoes by Sunil Dutta

The publisher stated that the Bourdain portion of the company would publish 3-4 titles per year. There are 20 titles listed here and I’m not sure if they are all of the books published. I have a feeling there might be some missing. After this, there is the question of the introductions Bourdain wrote for other authors, books that Bourdain edited like the 2008 Best of Travel Writing, and the documentaries that Bourdain created like Wasted! The Story of Food Waste. Besides No Reservations and Parts Unknown Bourdain did a lot of projects on the side and some of which were released after his death. To stay on track here let’s focus on the books that Bourdain thought were worthy of being published.

I don’t know if this is a complete list or not. If there is anything missing, please comment on this post so that I can add and edit anything that had been forgotten. For one reason or another Bourdain thought these books were important and while some became popular for obvious reasons there are some that were forgotten the moment they hit the shelves. I find it interesting that Eating Korea appeared to have sold well and was an enjoyable read. However, Eating Vietnam was forgotten and I didn’t even know about it until I started doing this project. Even Goodreads appeared to have dropped the ball on that one.

Where should I go after this? Documentaries? Obscure writings that Bourdain contributed to? Let me know. In the meantime, I have some reading to do.

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