Anthony Bourdain's Favorite Dessert Was From His Childhood

Anthony Bourdain wasn't an overly sentimental person. However, there were certain aspects of his childhood that truly helped shape Bourdain into the food icon he is. Whether it was the French brasserie his father took him to on family vacations or memories of growing up at the Jersey shore, Bourdain was never afraid to dig into his past for inspiration. So, it's only fitting that Bourdain's favorite dessert came from his childhood.

In an interview with Thrillist, Bourdain said that while he enjoyed "obscure old Escoffier-era stuff" and chocolate, his favorite dessert was "a little something" from his childhood, his mom's créme caramel. His liking for this sweet, traditional French dessert is certainly a rarity for Bourdain. In an interview with Publishers Weekly, he revealed that he was not the biggest dessert fan. In fact, he told readers of his cookbook, "Appetites," to serve cheese in place of desserts.

What is créme caramel?

There were fond childhood memories for Bourdain surrounding créme caramel. But he also loved it because it was old school, a relic of the legendary French chef Auguste Escoffier, who all but defined French haute cuisine. 

As respected as Escoffier is, some of the recipes he championed can be seen as a little old-fashioned, and créme caramel is one of them. Essentially a custard with a caramel cap, créme caramel is about as classically French a dessert as one can get. Not to be confused with flan, the custard and caramel in creme caramel are cooked together in a ramekin that's then baked in a bain-marie. This technique calls for the ramekins to be cooked in a baking dish that is filled with hot water. This way the custard is cooked gently in the water bath so it doesn't overcook and become rubbery.

The end result should be a perfectly uniform custard with a cooked caramel cap that oozes over the sides and into the dish. The consistency is sticky, and the flavor is sweet with subtle notes of vanilla. So, while it's certainly not cheese, it's a dessert Bourdain loved and cherished for the memories of his mother.