Why Anthony Bourdain Kept White People Out of ‘Parts Unknown’ Houston Episode

Anthony Bourdain’s hour-long quests for “Parts Unknown” have taken the chef and best-selling author around the world exploring cultures not commonly featured on American TV.

Although the popular CNN TV series usually takes its audience to unfamiliar locations, such as Congo, Libya and Myanmar, American cities are occasionally featured as well. One memorable episode which got tons of praise was an “unconventional episode” done in Houston last year, in which the city’s cultural diversity in particular was highlighted.

In a recent New Yorker piece about the host, Bourdain revealed that he was able to make the culturally diverse episode work by telling his producers that he wanted the Houston episode to have “no white people.”

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True enough, despite the city having a number of popular celebrity white chefs, such as Ronnie Killen, Chris Shepherd, Bryan Caswell and others, not one of them was featured. Bourdain revealed in the New Yorker interview that he wanted his audience to envision Houston “as a Vietnamese and Central American and African and Indian place.”

Indeed, Bourdain’s strategy for the Houston show eventually bore fruit, as it currently stands as one of the most critically-acclaimed episodes of the show. Watching the episode definitely shows the audience a facet of the city that many of its citizens hardly take notice of.

Here’s the episode, in case you missed it:

The award-winning show’s ninth season, which is set to begin on April 30, will be kicking off with a similar approach. This time, Bourdain goes to a Latino-themed trip to Los Angeles. The top-rated series has won a Peabody Award, 5 Emmy Awards, and has so far received 11 nominations for writing, sound mixing, editing, and cinematography.

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