10 Dining Out Tips We Learned From Anthony Bourdain

In the wake of beloved chef, author and TV personality Anthony Bourdan passing away last Friday at the age of 61, People has put together a list of some of his best tips for diners. "I want to try everything once," he wrote in his 2000 memoir Kitchen Confidential. "But there are some general principles I adhere to, things I’ve seen over the years that remain in mind and have altered my eating habits." Here are those insights: 

  1. Skip the fish special on Mondays. Sure, it’s well priced, but is it fresh? Doubtful. Since chefs receive their seafood order for the weekend on Friday mornings, “chances are that the Monday-night tuna you want has been kicking around in the kitchen since Friday morning, under God knows what conditions,” he wrote in his New Yorker article.

  2. Dine out during the week. Weekdays are for locals, weekends for tourists and the pre-theater crowd. Unsurprisingly, chefs prefer cooking for the former. Bourdain suggests that Tuesdays are your best bet for fresh food (fish included), as that’s when “the good stuff comes in,” when the kitchen is most relaxed and when the chef is serving up peak creativity.

  3. Don’t order meat well-done. If not for the sake of flavor alone, then for the fact that you’re effectively paying “for the privilege of eating our garbage,” Bourdain says. He explains that cuts of particularly tough or old meat that would otherwise be trashed or served to the floor staff are set aside by cost-conscious chefs in a “time-honored practice called ‘save for well-done.'”

  4. Pork is safer (and cooler) than chicken. Unless you object to pork for religious reasons, Bourdain urges you to choose it over chicken, which “bores the hell out of chefs.” Bourdain also explains that chicken goes bad quickly and spreads salmonella when handled carelessly. With his signature snark for those who play it safe, he states, “It occupies its ubiquitous place on menus as an option for customers who can’t decide what they want to eat.”

  5. Most meals include a full stick of butter. Do as the French do, and embrace it. This is why restaurant cooking tastes so much more decadent than a home-cooked meal—because few of us could stomach seeing just how much butter goes into a dish in order to make it even better than how your mama made it. “In almost every restaurant worth patronizing, sauces are enriched with mellowing, emulsifying butter,” Bourdain vows, even “the ones where the chef brags about how he’s ‘getting away from butter and cream.'”

  6. Bread gets recycled. No, not the eco-conscious kind of recycling. The bread served shortly after you sit down is often culled from the uneaten leftovers of the sticky-fingered children crawling over their parents a few tables away. But Bourdain insists in Kitchen Confidential that if the germs that may have been breathed in the basket’s general direction upset you, “you might just as well avoid air travel, or subways, equally dodgy environments for airborne transmission of disease. Eat the bread."

  7. Be wary of Hollandaise. “Most likely, the stuff on your eggs was made hours ago and held on station,” Bourdain writes in Kitchen Confidential.

  8. Avoid "discount sushi." If the disclaimer doesn’t put you off, Bourdain’s warning should: “I can’t imagine a better example of Things To Be Wary Of in the food department than bargain sushi." If anything made this man with a famously open-minded and often reckless appetite wary, it should make us all wary.

  9. Skip the mussels. While some restaurants may handle their mussels carefully, that was rarely Bourdain’s experience in the kitchen. “More often than not, mussels are allowed to wallow in their own foul-smelling p**s in the bottom of a reach-in,” he revealed in Kitchen Confidential.

  10. Be polite to your waiter. Waiters know the secrets of what’s going on behind closed kitchen doors, and might just be the ones to tip you off on what not to order. “Look at your waiter’s face. He knows,” Bourdain writes in Kitchen Confidential. “If he likes you, maybe he’ll stop you from ordering a piece of fish he knows is going to hurt you."

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