Where Anthony Bourdain Worked His First Job In The Food Industry

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Anthony Bourdain was an outspoken New Yorker through and through, but the chef-slash-writer first cut his culinary teeth in Massachusetts. The year was 1972 and he was fresh out of high school. In his magnum opus "Kitchen Confidential," Bourdain described himself at age 17: "Essentially, I treated the world as my ashtray ... I was — to be frank — a spoiled, miserable, narcissistic, self-destructive, and thoughtless young lout. Rudderless and unhappy, I went in with some friends on a summer share in Provincetown, Cape Cod. It was what my friends were doing and that was enough for me."

Specifically, Bourdain's first dishwashing job was at the now-closed Flagship Restaurant (a place he called "The Dreadnaught" in "Kitchen Confidential"), which he described as a sleepy, welcoming, unfancy, driftwood-forward seafood joint where the cooks ruled the roost. "In the kitchen, [the cooks] were like gods," wrote Bourdain. "They dressed like pirates ... They had style and swagger, and they seemed afraid of nothing."

The famed chef didn't start working in kitchens out of any desire to be a cook, though. Instead, he started working as a dishwasher because his friends were getting annoyed that he wasn't helping with the rent. One roommate got him a job at the restaurant where she worked as a server, and the rest is history. "It was from these humble beginnings that I began my strange climb to chefdom," he wrote.

Dishwashing in Provincetown

Bourdain's nostalgic descriptions paint the Provincetown of the '70s as a liberal scene imbued with coastal New England warmth and charm — the unassumingly perfect petri dish for perhaps his most formative chapter. He revisited his old stomping grounds in a 2014 episode of "Parts Unknown," waxing, "Provincetown, a wonderland of tolerance, long time tradition of accepting artists, writers, the badly behaved, the gay, the different. It was paradise." On his highlights tour, Bourdain also hit other faves like the Lobster Pot and Spiritus Pizza, where the owner used to let him sleep on top of the walk-in when he was down and out. Quoth Bourdain, "I cannot tell you how frequently I dream about Spiritus Pizza."

The chef's career both on the page and onscreen was as much about food as people, and by extension, de-stigmatizing substance abuse and mental illness. As he once wrote, "In America, the professional kitchen is the last refuge of the misfit ... Most of us who live and operate in the culinary underworld are in some fundamental way dysfunctional." Provincetown is where Bourdain says he bought his first bag of heroin in 1980, but this was also the time when he says he found a sense of direction. Standing on the Massachusetts beach decades later he reflected back, "At that point, I certainly didn't think I was going to be a cook. I dunno. I was just hanging out in a beautiful place."