Anthony Bourdain might just have the best job in the world. In the eighth season of “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations” the chef takes his audience on a tour of 15 locations throughout six continents.
Throughout the season, which airs on Mondays at 9 p.m. on the Travel Channel, Bourdain plays with a venomous king cobra snake in Penang; is gouged, cupped and drained of blood by a Finnish massage therapist; rides a BMX bike on a beach in Mexico; and is kidnapped by The Black Keys.
While Bourdain claims there were no high-security moments so far this season, all of his adventures carry some element of danger.
He recalls his trip to Beirut, Lebanon, in 2006: “When you’re filming with expensive cameras in a place where people are very hungry, and a few dollars makes a difference of life and death, it can understandably get very tense.”
Bourdain says he has one guiding principle when choosing the lineup of countries to visit: Where can he go that interests him and excites him?
“If traveling around the world and being a guest of people [is a job], if it’s not interesting and fun to me, I don’t see any reason it would be interesting or fun to anybody else.”
His formula is simple: Travel, eat, experience — and then write.
“The place reveals itself to us,” he explains. “You can’t write a script and [then] try to conform your experiences to preconceptions.”
Season 8 kicks off in Mozambique, where Bourdain was pleasantly surprised: “The food was amazing. I came out feeling hopeful of the world.”
For Bourdain, the best experiences are the ones spent with the locals — the people who don’t know who he is and what he does.
“The people who don’t understand why the camera men are not eating and drinking. … Those are the best times,” he says.
Cutting American cuisine some slack
Bourdain said Americans can be forgiven for their lapses when it comes to food. According to Bourdain, Americans lost touch with its roots in the country’s moment of wealth.
“We’re a young country,” he says. “We don’t have a culture that’s un-conflicted about food as Italy, Spain or France. … I’m actually hopeful and optimistic about the way things are going in American dining culture.”
Follow Mary Ann Georgantopoulos on Twitter @marygeorgant