How A Single Oyster Ignited Anthony Bourdain's Deep Love Of Food

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It's no secret that the late chef Anthony Bourdain was a lover of food — he spent his life and career working in restaurants, writing about food, and hosting travel food stores. But what fans may not yet know is what led to Bourdain's passion for food. The chef wrote about it in his 2000 memoir, "Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly," revealing that it all started with a single oyster.

In the book, Bourdain writes about when, as an adolescent, he and his family were invited to spend time on an oyster boat by their neighbor, Monsieur Saint-Jour, an oyster fisherman. While on the boat, Bourdain complained that he was hungry, leading the oyster fisherman to ask if anyone would like to try an oyster. Both of Bourdain's parents, as well as his little brother, hesitated to answer — but Bourdain agreed immediately.

Bourdain wrote, "I took [the oyster] in my hand, tilted the shell back into my mouth as instructed by the by now beaming Monsieur Saint-Jour and with one bite and a slurp, wolfed it down. It tasted of seawater . . . of brine and flesh . . . and, somehow . . . of the future."

From there, Bourdain says his life was changed forever.

Bourdain refers to that moment as attaining glory

Finding the bravery to try an unfamiliar food — one that even his parents weren't eager to try — turned out to be a pivotal turning point for Bourdain. Bourdain wrote, "I'd not only survived — I'd enjoyed." He goes on to write that, at that moment, he learned that food had power and, thus, began his life as a chef — even before he'd made his own meals or even had the thought of cooking as a future profession.

Summing up the moment succinctly, he wrote, "In that unforgettably sweet moment in my personal history, that one moment still more alive for me than so many of the other 'firsts' that followed ... I attained glory."

This story is very personal and specific, but it's part of a bigger book that details the full scope of what it's like to be a professional chef. In an interview with Compulsive Reader in 2003, Bourdain was asked if he ever feels put off by readers who think they have a personal connection to him just because he read his book — including his moment of attaining glory via oyster. Bourdain doesn't mind — at least not with one group of people. He responded, "Cooks of course – I hear this a lot: 'Dude I read the book — I know what you mean man.' I like that though. I don't feel like it's invading my space. There is a subculture of cooks, and I'm reaffirmed by this."