TV star, celebrity chef and businessman Anthony
Bourdain loves a good challenge. So how did he fare when he became a father at 50?
"Kids are great, because they are always
watching, they are merciless in their observations," he says. "You quickly
learn they absorb and remember everything, and will play it back to you when it
suits them," Bourdain told me when I interviewed him at the recent Cayman Cookout, an annual celebrity chef-fueled weekend on the Cayman Islands and the only food festival the notorious critic of celebrity chef enterprises is associated with.
"My daughter is very lawyerly in her arguments, much like I was, but
I think the biggest change when you become a parent is that you are instantly
no longer the star of your own movie, and you joyously give that up," he said. "You think,
thank god, that was aburden. You know it's not about 'me'
anymore at all."
Bourdain and I hit on some of the hot parenting topics, including kids in restaurants, travel with babies and raising little girls. Here are four more things that were on his mind that day.
1. On food and travel
"My daughter, Ariane, is 8.
She grew up on planes and in restaurants from the time she was 3 months old.
She has been to many, many places and, to her credit, we've never forced her to
like things. But the fact is, with an Italian mom and grandparents, and seeing
her dad on TV eating all sorts of weird stuff (she's obsessed with Andrew
Zimmern), she is very open about food. Our big father/daughter show we will
watch together is 'Cutthroat Kitchen.' She adores that show. She's likely to
grab the thing on the table that you would think would be the most un-likey
thing on the table for a kid to go for."
2. On kids crying at dinner
"She's never made a scene
at a restaurant, never cried at a restaurant, disturbed anyone else's time, which is an unpardonable sin, by the way. I'm a big believer in when the little
brat starts to cry—OUT."
3. Why weird is good
"She's a weird kid with weird
parents. She goes to school with a lot of kids with very differing backgrounds
who come from different places. She understands that not everyone lives like
her. She's traveled a lot and enjoyed it, and I like to think that has given her
a restless and curious mind. I encourage
that in every way I can."
"She's been training jiu-jitsu
since age 4. My soul duty as a parent and as a father, particularly raising a
little girl who is going to grow up to be a young woman, is that she will never
look to men for affirmation, or anyone else for affirmation or self-worth or
be physically intimidated by anyone. My daughter spinning arm bars is a thing
of envy—Ronda Rousy quality."