The Time Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown Went Too Far

It might be said that beloved and now-forever-iconic celebrity chef, Anthony Bourdain, was a lot of things, from mind-bogglingly creative, talented, passionate, and expressive, to tragic-slash-tortured genius, anti-xenophobia activist, and then some. But one thing the late, great Bourdain, who died by suicide in 2018, was never known as was a "saint," according to SaportaReport. Bourdain had "bad-boy" written all over him, from his days as a non-conformist college dropout with a bad-girl girlfriend, who later became his wife. According to Northpoint Recovery, he also had a burgeoning heroin habit. In "Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly," Bourdain also revealed even more shocking and, at times, embarrassing secrets of the restaurant business that both titillated and horrified readers. And in his final years, he became known as the intrepid traveler of the world in search of culinary treasure in the CNN series "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown." 

Despite his popularity growing exponentially, there are various instances in the cooking and traveling show where Bourdain's behavior could be deemed, at the very least, low-key mischievous. And in some cases, it doesn't seem a stretch to speculate that, perhaps, "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown" went just a bit too far.

Who could forget the time Bourdain took Parts Unknown to Pittsburgh?

Who would have guessed a trip to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, could end up going too far? And yet this is what happened when "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown" made its way to the city long known for its admirable working-class values. According to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, in an episode that aired on October 22, 2017, Bourdain described Pittsburgh as a city on the cusp of a "renaissance" as a result of the influx of tech companies, thus whetting the appetite for culture and new restaurants. Hoping to discover the "Pittsburgh of the future," Bourdain ate and chatted his way through the best of the city's eating establishments, and, when he was done, he remarked that he hoped "he did the town right" with what he appears to have thought was nothing more than a thoughtful examination of Pittsburgh's racial and economic disparities.

It was not received that way, per tweets compiled by Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "That's not the Pittsburgh I know," one Pittsburgh resident tweeted. This sentiment was apparently seconded by the Mayor himself, Bill Peduto, via retweet. "Apparently Bourdain set out to make [Pittsburgh] look like a backward racist town," replied another Twitter user. "This is a highly inaccurate depiction of the city." 

Labeling this "Parts Unknown" episode as an offensive misrepresentation of their beloved, if not flawed, hometown, Pittsburghers criticized Bourdain before they even got all the way through the episode (via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).