Anthony Bourdain Posted Anonymously To This Subreddit For Years

Most people only knew Anthony Bourdain through his writing and television shows, like his bestselling book, "Kitchen Confidential," and CNN series, "Parts Unknown." However, others got to know the chef in a more intimate, unedited way. In December of 2021, Alexander Darwin revealed in a piece for Rolling Stone what only a small community was aware of for quite some time: Bourdain had an anonymous Reddit account under the name of u/NooYawkCity. While he never officially unveiled his true identity, many thought that the posts and comments by the user, shared in a martial arts subreddit, read just like Bourdain.

In a post about Brazilian jiu-jitsu titled "Chicken Fried Steak," for example, u/NooYawkCity wrote, "58 years old and getting so gassed during warm ups, that when we start to roll, I end up sticking my own head into an obvious guillotine –just to take a break." Redditors remarked on his "excellent" writing, with one person comparing his style to that of German poet Charles Bukowski. Eventually, though, over the course of three years and the user's roughly 80 posts about the martial art, people began to believe that u/NooYawkCity was really Anthony Bourdain. Per Rolling Stone, they were right, as confirmed by two sources close to Bourdain, including his wife, Ottavia Busia.

What Brazilian jiu-jitsu really meant to Bourdain

It's known that Anthony Bourdain stayed fit by practicing jiu-jitsu nearly every day of the last few years of his life (via The New Yorker). On Reddit, he gave people a more unfiltered look at what the sport meant to him. In u/NooYawkCity's first post, he wrote, "I've been training about a year, and only recently gotten solidly hooked. ... Now it's an obsession." Later, when another person started a thread asking about Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioners who have dependency issues, Bourdain responded with how he had spent 40 years addicted to drugs. "Frankly," he continued, "BJJ as an addiction has in many ways replaced my previous ones. ... My emotional state when deprived of training would, in different circumstances, be called 'drug seeking behavior.'"

Bourdain wrote often about the pleasure he got from working hard to improve his jiu-jitsu practice. When he finally achieved a blue belt, he described on Medium how only the birth of his daughter eclipsed the pride he felt that day. He still wasn't "good" at BJJ, he said, but he worked hard for it. It's also plausible that, as such a famous figure, Bourdain enjoyed the relative degree of anonymity that the martial art afforded him. In another Medium piece, a BJJ practitioner wrote about how it took him multiple classes to realize that the older man he occasionally practiced with in Los Angeles was Anthony Bourdain. On Reddit and in the gym, Bourdain could just be a guy looking for a good throw.