Why Anthony Bourdain's Guest Guides Were An Integral Part Of His Shows

Anthony Bourdain in sunglasses
Anthony Bourdain in sunglasses - Focus Features

Subversive, charismatic, and ultimately tragic, Anthony Bourdain and his respective shows have a tone all their own. Starting as a dishwasher, one of the most influential chefs in American history moved up the ladder before writing the esteemed memoir, "Kitchen Confidential." This gave him enough acclaim that he was able to spearhead a prolific and lucrative career as a host of his own travel shows. His first endeavor was entitled "A Cook's Tour," and, like his subsequent TV series, it followed Bourdain around the world as he experienced culture and food. But while he was the face of the shows, other aspects were just as important.

The production enlisted guest guides -- also known as fixers -- to introduce the famous personality to the sides of these countries audiences may not see on other shows. The selection process for the guest guides was of the utmost importance, as Bourdain explained in a Reddit AMA. The "Kitchen Confidential" author was concerned with showing a different side to these culinary destinations and depended on these guides to escort him through these places.

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The Function Of Bordain's Guides

Anthony Bourdain looking at Linh
Anthony Bourdain looking at Linh - Travel Channel

Anthony Bourdain's shows demonstrate a picture not often portrayed. Anyone can visit Vietnam or Japan and fall into tourist traps. Enlisting local guides ensured that the episodes that aired on shows like "No Reservations" and "Parts Unknown" featured what life is like for locals.

"Ideally, I'll go to a place like -- I'll find a little bar in Rio, let's say, some little local place that perfectly expresses the neighborhood," Bourdain explained to NPR. "You know, it's not on the -- it's not a tourist-friendly place. The response I'm looking for is to hear from someone from the neighborhood saying, how did you ever find that place? I thought only we knew about it." To get to these specific places, Bourdain needs local experts with the knowledge and experience to show him the way. And over the years, he has developed close personal kinship with those that appear on these shows.Every time the "Parts Unknown" host has gone to Vietnam, for instance, he is joined by Dinh Hoang Linh. This field coordinator has been friends with Bourdain for many years in one of his favorite locations. Without a guide, Bourdain would not be able to see the local haunts and restaurants that Linh personally convinced to open for their production, as in the Vietnam episode of "No Reservations." Making every episode unique, these guides are integral to making Bourdian's brand so successful.

Anthony Bourdain's Long Lasting Friendships

Anthony Bourdain looking at companion
Anthony Bourdain looking at companion - CNN

Anthony Bourdain returns to Vietnam in Season 2, Episode 3 of "No Reservations" at a moment's notice because Linh asks him. Calling him an "old friend," Bourdain said Linh "has always been my guide on trips to Vientmam so he is someone I owe great loyalty to." He went -- no questions asked.Zamir Gotta was another one of Bourdain's constant companions. The native-born Russian got his start as a translator and field producer, ultimately landing him in the trajectory of Bourdain. He appears in "No Reservations" and "Parts Unknown" as a fixer and friend of the celebrity chef. For Bourdain, these guides were not just co-workers, but close personal friends. As much as he felt their friendship, Bourdain equally impacted the guides. We sadly lost the Food Network star in 2018, and the news hit many of them hard.

"Tony's death is a huge loss and I am devastated and heartbroken," Gotta told The Hollywood Reporter. "He really convinced me that personal freedom and dignity are something we should never trade for anything. For me, he created what I can only define as an unbearable lightness of being through food and booze. He swept aside my negative stereotypes about street food. And since meeting him I learned to be bold and fearless in standing up for what I believe is right." These guides were significant to the series, but he was just as important to them.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.