Anthony Bourdain's Most Nostalgic Childhood Meals

Just about everyone has a meal or two that reminds them of their childhood, whether it's a classic kids' favorite like mac and cheese or something more specific to your family — and famous chefs are no different. Anthony Bourdain, the late chef and travel documentarian, has been open about which meals make him the most nostalgic for his childhood.

In a 2014 interview with the online mixed martial arts mag Bloody Elbow, interviewer Stephie Hayes asked the chef if he has any childhood food memories that inspire his cooking. Bourdain immediately had an answer, beginning with one homemade meal that likely comes up for a plethora of other people when they think about their family memories: meatloaf. Bourdain said, "My mom made meatloaf. Who doesn't love mom's meatloaf? That's a powerful memory for me." But his recollection didn't end there; Bourdain offered a whole list of foods that reminded him of his younger days. 

Bourdain remembers his mom cooking for him -- and now cooks for his own daughter

Bourdain continued, "Steamer clams from the Jersey Shore, a good hero sandwich or Italian sub, a deep-fried ripper hot dog, I love those things. They take me back. Campbell's tomato soup; my mom would heat up some tomato soup if it was a cold, rainy day or if I had a bad day at school. Those are all powerful childhood flavors for me."

After becoming a parent himself, Bourdain spoke about the food that he made for his own kid. In an interview with Portland Press Herald in 2016, Bourdain said, "Everything changes when you become a parent, of course. That's a cliché, but it's a cliché because it's true. It's not about me anymore. It's about 'what will my 9-year-old girl eat?'"

Bourdain mentioned that he would've been happy to make her simple meals — something like Campbell's soup, but that she takes after him in that she was an adventurous eater because, he reflected, he didn't force her to try new foods. Bourdain said, "I think it's lethal to suggest to a child they should try something. Who ever responded to that? When your mom said try the liver, it's good for you, that was sort of a death knell for you ever wanting to eat liver. It might even help with reverse psychology: 'Stay away from my foie gras, kid, this is grown-up stuff. This is for Daddy.' Now they're interested."