Published: 2000
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Why It Mattered: Changed the public’s conception of fine dining

Anthony Bourdain’s restaurant exposé left America with an unsettling sense of what goes on behind the kitchen doors. Our naïve vision of chefs as culinary artists using white tablecloths as their blank slate was overturned by Bourdain’s no-frills descriptions of kitchens doubling as drug dens and spaces for impromptu sex sessions, run by men he likened to pirates. His expletive-laced rants took the restaurant industry to task, and never again would any sane, literate person dare to order Mahi on a Monday (Thursday’s leftovers) or order a steak well done (a guaranteed way to get the worst cut). With Bourdain, the censors went into the trash, and the rare truth was served up, bloody and uncompromising. We owe him for that.