The Slatest

Anthony Bourdain Really, Really Hated Henry Kissinger

Henry Kissinger, Anthony Bourdain.
Henry Kissinger, Anthony Bourdain.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Win McNamee/Getty Images, Mike Coppola/Getty Images.

The late chef and television host Anthony Bourdain traveled extensively in Southeast Asia, including in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos, where his shows repeatedly highlighted the legacy of the Vietnam War. In particular, Bourdain frequently trained his ire on former Secretary of State–Nobel Peace Prize winner–secret bombing of Cambodia facilitatoraccused war criminal Henry Kissinger.

Bourdain had the following to say about Kissinger in his 2001 book, A Cook’s Tour:

“Once you’ve been to Cambodia, you’ll never stop wanting to beat Henry Kissinger to death with your bare hands. You will never again be able to open a newspaper and read about that treacherous, prevaricating, murderous scumbag sitting down for a nice chat with Charlie Rose or attending some black-tie affair for a new glossy magazine without choking. Witness what Henry did in Cambodia – the fruits of his genius for statesmanship – and you will never understand why he’s not sitting in the dock at The Hague next to Milošević.”

He stood by the passage in a tweet earlier this year, writing, “Frequently, I’ve come to regret things I’ve said. This, from 2001, is not one of those times.”

Then there were his comments to the New Yorker’s Patrick Radden Keefe in a profile last year:

He then launched into a tirade about how it sickens him, having travelled in Southeast Asia, to see Kissinger embraced by the power-lunch crowd. “Any journalist who has ever been polite to Henry Kissinger, you know, fuck that person,” he said, his indignation rising. “I’m a big believer in moral gray areas, but, when it comes to that guy, in my view he should not be able to eat at a restaurant in New York.”

I pointed out that Bourdain had made similarly categorical denunciations of many people, only to bury the hatchet and join them for dinner.

“Emeril didn’t bomb Cambodia!” he said.

True!