Looking Back At Our 4 Favourite Anthony Bourdain Moments In Malaysia
Yesterday, 8 June, millions around the world were left in shock when it was reported that popular chef and travel documentarian Anthony Bourdain died at the age of 61 by an apparent suicide
According to CNN, Bourdain was in France working on an upcoming episode of his award-winning CNN series, 'Parts Unknown.'
The network's president, Jeff Zucker, said in a statement that, "Tony will be greatly missed not only for his work but also for the passion with which he did it."
Through his award-winning food shows, Bourdain took viewers on his trips across the globe to explore diverse cultures and cuisines in every one of his destinations.
Malaysia was no exception.
The renowned chef has made several visits to Malaysia throughout his career, exhibiting to the rest of the world some of his all-time favourite foods to eat, places to visit, and friends that he made along the way.
1. Gushing over asam laksa in Penang
"Every time I come to Malaysia there's one thing I gotta have... laksa."
In a 2012 episode of his travel show 'No Reservations', Bourdain raved about the local dish.
In the episode's introduction, the documentarian said that he usually prefers not to speak directly to the camera as he feels it is "artificial and awkward." However, Bourdain explained that he had to make an exception at the Pasar Air Itam laksa stall on Jalan Pasar because he wanted to share the "joy".
"If you like noodles and spicy stuff that comes in a bowl…you would really like this," Bourdain said, after taking his first bite of laksa.
"Wow I almost said yummy there. What the f**ck is happening to me?"
Laksa, according to Bourdain, is at "the absolute top" in the hierarchy of hot bowls of broth and noodles, and although he enjoyed Penang laksa, it was not Bourdain's personal favourite. He preferred Sarawak laksa, describing it as "breakfast of the Gods" when he was in Kuching in 2015.
"There is an incredibly delicious Penang version, with a tamarind and fish-based broth, chunks of mackerel and pineapple bobbing within—and while both styles have fervent adherents, the Kuching version is my favourite," Bourdain confessed.
He even went so far as to include Sarawak laksa from Choon Hui Cafe in Kuching (the kopitiam he ate at in that Instagram post) as one of the dishes for a New York food market he was planning to open.
Unfortunately, plans for the market were called off last December.
2. Returning to Aunty Aini's in Negeri Sembilan for chicken rendang
In 2015, the storyteller made his way to Negeri Sembilan for the second time to film an episode of 'Parts Unknown' at Aunty Aini's Garden Cafe in Nilai.
Bourdain described the actress turned chef Aini as "charming" and "fabulous", and her kampung style dishes as having been "prepared with a staggering finesse and precision."
"Who taught you to cook?" he asked while digging into the roast beef, poached egg, and chicken rendang laid out in front of him.
"When we were small, my grandmother would say stuff like, I don’t care who you are, if you can't cook you are nobody to me," Aini replied.
"There's no teaching Malay cooking here, it just comes from your grandma's kitchen, your mom's kitchen. You learn by smelling, by seeing, that's how I teach my children to cook."
3. Digging into a plate of char kuey teow in KL
"I love you, noodles!"
In a 2015 episode of 'Parts Unknown', Bourdain's first order of business when arriving in Kuala Lumpur was to beat his jet lag with some of the Malaysian delicacies he craved for the most.
"I don't want to get all heavy and philosophical at this point, but why I'm here, what my mission is, what I expect to find — basically retracing my steps and all that — we'll talk about that later. But right now: noodles!"
"Look at that greasy, fatty... yes. Come to daddy," said Bourdain while admiring his plate of char kuey teow at W.A.W Restaurant in Jalan Alor.
"Reveal yourself to me, my love," he jokingly said to a piece of black pepper crab before eating it.
4. Getting a traditional Iban tattoo in Sarawak
"I was broken hearted and at a crossroads in my life when I first went up the Skrang River in Sarawak. The people I met there, ten years ago, who hosted me and my crew in their longhouse, who fed us and looked after us, treated me with great kindness. When the Chiefs invited me back for their yearly harvest festival, GAWAI, I said I would come," explained Bourdain.
In the same 'Parts Unknown' episode, Bourdain decided to continue his tradition of signifying his trip to Sarawak with a tribal tattoo.
"If you were wondering by the way, if this hurts — two guys hammering away at my sternum with a bamboo club and sharp needles — yes, yes it hurt, a lot. And you can be damn sure if I wasn't on television while it was happening, I'd be whimpering and yelping like a gut-shot poodle," he said, according to Eater.
Despite the "ill advised" tattoo, Bourdain added that, "It's one of the most beautiful places on Earth - as remote and as different from where I grew up as any place could be. The people are lovely — and the food, as everywhere in Malaysia, incredible."
Since the news of his death broke, netizens have taken to social media to express their appreciation towards Bourdain for showing millions around the world what Malaysia has to offer