Anthony Bourdain didn’t mince his words when it came to Henry Kissinger.
“Henry Kissinger walks into a bar. “Would you hate it if I went over and punched Henry Kissinger in the face?” Bourdain once asked guests appearing on an episode of his show, “Parts unknown” TV program.
The late chef’s scathing comments about the foreign policy figure have resurfaced following Kissinger’s death and are being shared far and wide on the Internet. Kissinger died on Wednesday; he was 100.
Bourdain traveled to more than 80 countries during his career as a celebrity chef and world-famous television personality. He spent time in Southeast Asia, including Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, and his shows delved deep into the culture and geopolitics that shaped a place’s past and present. In these countries he illuminated the dark legacy of the Vietnam War.
In Bourdain’s 2001 memoir, “A Cook’s Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines,” he wrote: “Once you’ve been to Cambodia, you’ll never stop wanting to beat Henry Kissinger to death with your bare hands.” You never will again be able to open a newspaper and read about that treacherous, prevaricating, murderous bastard sitting down to have a friendly chat with Charlie Rose or attending a black tie for a new glossy magazine without choking. “When you see what Henry did in Cambodia – the fruits of his statesmanship – you will never understand why he is not sitting next to Milosevic in the dock in The Hague,” a reference to Slobodan Milosevic, the former Yugoslav and Serbian leader, who was there on trial for war crimes when he died in prison in 2006.
In 2018, he retweeted the passage: Write“I often regret things I have said. “This since 2001 has not been one of those times.”
As national security adviser and secretary of state in the Nixon and Ford administrations, Kissinger dominated international relations from 1969 to 1977. He was always a controversial figure, and his harshest critics – including Bourdain – considered him ruthless and accused him of war crimes, mainly because of the expansion of the Vietnam War into Cambodia and the support Washington gave to the brutal right-wing dictatorships in Chile and Argentina.
As the architect of U.S. Cold War policy, Kissinger had an extensive agenda, much of it taken up by the Vietnam War. He and North Vietnamese negotiator Le Duc Tho shared the Nobel Peace Prize for devising a plan to end the war, but the 1973 agreement failed to stop the fighting and the war dragged on for more than two more years until Saigon finally fell.
Kissinger accepted the honor but did not show up for the ceremony, blaming the pressures of his official duties. Tho rejected the price on the grounds that he considered the negotiations to have failed.
In a 2017 New Yorker profile, Bourdain rejected the idea that his show’s focus on social and political issues made him some kind of statesman.
“I’m not going to the White House correspondents’ dinner,” he quipped in response. “I don’t have to laugh at Henry Kissinger.” According to the New Yorker, Bourdain was taken aback by how disgusted he was when he saw Kissinger being hugged by the “power lunch crowd” after a trip to Southeast Asia.
“Every journalist who has ever been polite to Henry Kissinger, you know, that person,” he told the media, which noted that he was becoming increasingly outraged. “I’m a big advocate of moral gray areas, but when it comes to this guy, I don’t think he should be able to eat in a restaurant in New York.”
The article noted that Bourdain had “condemned many people in similar categorical terms, only to bury the hatchet and join them for dinner.”
Bourdain replied, “Emeril didn’t bomb Cambodia!”
Former Times staff writer Norman Kempster contributed to this report.