It’s hard to express in words what Anthony Bourdain meant to the world. He was a chef, a writer, a friend, and an explorer. He was a storyteller that transported people from one end of the world to the other without making them leave their homes. He explored different cultures with intrigue and respect but most importantly he listened. He allowed the people he met to tell their stories all while making sure others listened.
We’re honoring Bourdain, his curiosity, and sense of adventure by airing the last three episodes of Season 11 starting this week with Berlin.
It has long since become obvious that we come at each episode from an entirely different angle and perspective. Sometimes we are entirely food or location driven, many times not. Very rarely do we try and paint a picture of a city or a country that’s in any way an effort to be comprehensive, fair, representative, or even useful.
This week’s Berlin episode is about the city’s history as an unlikely refuge for artists, musicians, and creatives from all over the world. From the Weimar era of the early 20th century through the ’70s and ’80s and continuing today, Berlin—though interrupted by long periods of horror and repression and outright evil—has been a city of freedom for a cast of characters as diverse as Fritz Lang, George Grosz, Christopher Isherwood, David Bowie, and Iggy Pop. Its pioneering nightclub scene remains legendary.
The single most important moment in the development of this episode was when I became aware that Anton Newcombe of Brian Jonestown Massacre fame—in my view one of the most brilliant musicians of recent decades—is a proud, enthusiastic, and very skilled cook.
When Anton agreed to be on the show and then invited us to join him while he cooked a lavish dinner for 10 and cut a new record, well … that was it.
Along the way, he and others explained the things large and small about this rather incredible city.
I hope this show gives you a tiny, delicious slice of a very special place.
Highlights from Berlin on Explore Parts Unknown: