As tributes pour in following the death of former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, outspoken chef, author, and TV personality Anthony Bourdain’s scathing criticisms of the renowned politician have resurfaced, reigniting conversations about Kissinger’s controversial legacy in foreign policy.
Known for his no-holds-barred approach, Bourdain, who tragically died by suicide in 2018, was an outspoken critic of Kissinger’s actions, particularly the bombing of Cambodia during the Vietnam War. In various instances, Bourdain made his disdain for Kissinger abundantly clear.
The celebrity chef once posed a hypothetical question to guests on an episode of his Parts Unknown TV series, saying, “Henry Kissinger walks into a bar. Would it displease you if I walked over and punched Henry Kissinger in the face?”
In his memoir A Cook’s Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines, Bourdain’s sentiment about Cambodia was stark: “Once you’ve been to Cambodia, you’ll never stop wanting to beat Henry Kissinger to death with your bare hands.”
Reflecting on Kissinger’s actions, he expressed disbelief that the former Secretary of State wasn’t facing trial, stating, “Witness what Henry did in Cambodia…and you will never understand why he’s not sitting in the dock at The Hague next to Milosevic.”
In 2018, Bourdain reaffirmed his stance, retweeting the passage from his memoir, stating, “Frequently, I’ve come to regret things I’ve said. This, from 2001, is not one of those times.”
In a New Yorker profile, Bourdain scorned the notion of rubbing shoulders with Kissinger at events, expressing his disgust at the “power-lunch crowd” embracing Kissinger. He also made sharp remarks about journalists who treated Kissinger politely, firmly asserting, “I’m a big believer in moral gray areas, but when it comes to that guy…he should not be able to eat at a restaurant in New York.”
The resurfacing of Bourdain’s vehement criticisms coincides with Kissinger’s passing at 100 years old at his Connecticut residence, sparking discussions about the legacy of the polarizing figure and the lasting impact of his policies in U.S. history and international relations.