The No Reservations Episode Anthony Bourdain Never Wanted To Air

Maybe some things are too real for television. And sometimes, if you're a celebrity, your privilege makes it practically impossible to tell the real story. Anthony Bourdain and his crew arrived in Beirut, Lebanon in July 2006 to shoot an episode of "No Reservations." The show was going to be about good food and a culture that was thriving and diverse, despite its recent experience with civil war. After shooting two scenes for the series over two days, everything came to a halt. Israel had started bombing Beirut in response to the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers by Hezbollah, a radical Muslim group. "Basically, we got caught up in a war," Bourdain says in a scene from the new documentary "Roadrunner."

"I really didn't know how to process it," Bourdain said years later, in an interview with the Television Academy Foundation. "My immediate feeling when I came out of it was, 'We are not making a show out of this.'" He told Larry King the same thing shortly after he had returned to America. "We shot a lot of footage that I don't think we ever want to use, " Bourdain explained (via YouTube). "What we went through in Beirut is nothing compared to what Beirutis themselves had to go through."

Bourdain felt conflicted by his experience

In the "No Reservations" episode, Bourdain states he and his team expected to make "a happy food and travel show about a resurgent country ... a newly refurbished, reconstructed city," but after just a short amount of time in the city the bombing started. Bourdain and his crew waited by a hotel pool for about a week before they could leave Beirut. Meanwhile, as the Beirut episode of "No Reservations" relates, one of their local drivers had his house destroyed in the bombing (via Vimeo). "We're sitting around the pool, getting tan, while we're watching a war," he said. "If there's a single metaphor in this entire experience, that's probably it."

Bourdain may not have wanted to use the footage they shot in Lebanon to make a show, but the executives at the Travel Channel saw it differently. The Beirut episode of "No Reservations" aired on August 21, 2006, only a month after the crew had fled Lebanon (via IMDb).

Anthony Bourdain didn't want the Beirut episode to air, but it was powerful television

Anthony Bourdain's Beirut experience changed his approach to making television forever. He realized his shows didn't need to always focus on food, even though that was the main reason he started making the programs in the first place. "Food's super important," Bourdain told the Television Academy Foundation. "It's the way we get people to say things to us ... but it's not everything."

The host may not have wanted to air the Beirut episode of "No Reservations," but it turned out to be a powerful episode. It was nominated for an Emmy, and it moved Lebanese journalist Kim Ghattas, who also had been in Beirut covering the conflict for BBC (via The Atlantic). "I knew his episode had told my country's story better than I ever could," Ghattas wrote. "I cried when I watched it."