Anthony Bourdain dined with President Obama last week on the season premiere of CNN’s “Parts Unknown,” but don’t expect him to break bread with the “loathsome” Donald Trump anytime soon.
“Absolutely f—ing not,” the globe-trotting foodie told TheWrap when asked if he would care for a private dining session with The Donald.
“I’ve been a New Yorker most of my life, [and] for better or worse Mr. Trump is a New Yorker,” Bourdain said. “We know him well here. We’ve watched how he does business and we’ve watched him say things and then we’ve seen whether or not he did those things, we have seen how he treats the people he does business with. I would give the same answer that I would have given 10 years ago, when he was just as loathsome,” he added.
As for Hillary Clinton, Bourdain seems more forgiving, but he makes it clear he’s not in the market to go around supping with politicos.
“Honestly, that’s not the business I’m in. I mean [Obama] kind of fell in our lap. We didn’t reach out to the White House,” Bourdain said about interviewing the president. “I don’t think it’s something I’m anxious to do again. It’s something I’m really grateful I did this time around but it was an extraordinary occurrence.”
TheWrap: You travel to so many places, does all the culture you take in change the way you look at some of the problems facing America these days?
Bourdain: Look, when you travel as much as I do, I think the ability to put yourself in other people’s shoes and to empathize with people with whom you are very different, that comes along with that. I am, in fact, even in Europe seeing a lot of sort of white nationalism and alt-right. A lot of anti-immigrant sentiment, a lot of fear and undirected anger but I’ve never seen in my lifetime the kind of national conversation that we’re actually having in the open now. It would have been unthinkable at any point in my life. Eight years ago, if a candidate for a major party was endorsed by the America Nazi Party and the Aryan Nation it’s something [major figures] would feel obliged to denounce. Now, that apparently isn’t reason enough to say anything.
Have you noticed a change in how people view Americans?
I mean, there is a sense of utter disbelief, everywhere I go, at Mr. Trump. That is for sure. I mean, I’m talking among our allies, England, France Germany, Italy. It’s the worst thing you can find. It’s one thing to be despised or held in contempt or feared, but to be ridiculed or pitied is a terrible thing.
Who would be your dream get if you could eat with anyone on the show?
The white whale for me is Keith Richards. We’ve been talking for years and had a delightful lunch together talking about a possible show and it is my hope that someday Keith and I will talk about British naval history while enjoying steak and kidney pie, or something.
I read that you were more nervous eating with Iggy Pop than President Obama. Would you be nervous speaking with Keith?
Hell yeah. I mean, we know each other a little bit now and he’s very personable, bright and an articulate, well-read guy. But it’s like you sit there across the table from Keith Richards and its like starring into Mount Rushmore. I mean, he’s that iconic, in my view. He’s more iconic to me than George Washington.
Do restaurant employees freak out when you’re not filming and just pop into a random place to eat by yourself?
Not if they know me at all. I’m a cheap date. If I show up at your burger joint, you know what I want? A burger. I don’t need an extra course. I don’t need special attention. I don’t want to be comped. I don’t want anything other than a burger. Leave me alone, feel free to be rude, that’s it.
What’s your favorite burger in America?
If I’m on the East Coast I like Shake Shack, if I’m on the West Coast I like In-N-Out.
You do a lot of drinking on the show, usually something that pairs with the local cuisine. What is your drink of choice when the cameras aren’t rolling?
I never drink at home. I have a ton of liquor that people have given me, I’m sure I have beer in the fridge but I haven’t really looked. It’s really rare that I would ever crack a beer and watch TV. A mixed drink at home? I can’t even remember… shit must be going really wrong in my life if I’m sitting there drinking tequila at home. I’m not a big drinker. I’m the father of a nine-year-old girl and that’s pretty much the focus of my life when I’m not working.
Do you get sick of people saying you have the best job?
No, it’s true. I’m not sick of it because I know it to be true. Who gets to do what I do? I’m pretty grateful for that so, no, I don’t mind.
Is there a specific location where you want to film but haven’t been able to?
At this point, if I haven’t been there it’s probably because the insurance companies don’t feel it’s secure enough at this time. We’ve been trying to get into Northern Afghanistan for some time, Venezuela, I’ve been trying to do a show there. Yemen, I’d like to but it’s probably not a good idea. Syria is off the table.
What can we expect from this season of “Parts Unknown?”
Each episode is very, particularly different from the one that comes before. We try to do that every season but this season they’re really different in content, style, subject, music, everything. It’s a mixed bag that I’m really proud of. As far as food, it’s always a good thing, I think, on this show when you can go to a country and look at it through one particular individual’s eyes and their personal story.
The Nashville episode of “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” airs on Sunday at 9 p.m. ET on CNN.