The 11 Best Episodes of Bourdain’s Parts Unknown
6. 8.03 “Sichuan”
The reason why this episode made this list is not necessarily because of the food featured, but because it’s the best example of Bourdain’s interactions with friend Eric Ripert. Although Ripert is an acclaimed chef best known for his restaurant Le Bernardin, his major weakness is spice. Somehow, Bourdain convinced Ripert to accompany him to Sichuan, an area of China best known for their mouth-numbingly spicy cuisine. Together, they sample hot-pot and the specialties of local “fly restaurants”, and the audience gets to enjoy their casual banter, honed over years of mutual love and respect.
7. 2.05 “Sicily”
Another reason that people came to idolize Bourdain as a maverick chef and TV host is that he never let the cameras affect his life — even when he was in the middle of filming.
During the season two episode in Sicily, Bourdain’s darker side comes out when he realizes that his local guide is taking him to only the most touristy part of the region, and is setting up staged events like a fishing trip where their entire catch came from a store. In typical Bourdain form, he got wildly drunk, then woke up the next morning determined to salvage the experience, even if he had to do it himself.
8. 2.01 “Jerusalem”
Jerusalem is one of the most contested cities in the entire world, and during the season two premiere of Parts Unknown, Bourdain set off determined to visit even the most blockaded sections of the area, including Gaza and the West Bank. This episode showcased Bourdain’s ability to interrogate his own long-held beliefs and carry on a conversation with himself in order to show viewers at home that it’s OK to doubt, to search, and still remain uncertain. Along the way, Bourdain ate plenty of falafel, went to a Palestinian cooking school in the West Bank, and chatted with popular cookbook authors Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.