Reflecting On Anthony Bourdain’s Trip To Kenya With W. Kamau Bell In ‘Parts Unknown’


It’s been almost four months since writer-vagabond-chef Anthony Bourdain committed suicide in his French hotel room. The beloved raconteur was in France with his pal, Eric Ripert, shooting an episode of his much-lauded CNN show, Parts Unknown, when he ended his own life. Three months earlier, Bourdain had started filming the 12th season of Parts Unknown in Kenya with comedian W. Kamau Bell. Last night, that episode aired — the last fully completed episode with Bourdain.

The episode was bittersweet, to say the least. Bourdain’s acerbic wit was on full display as he and Bell navigated the markets, back alleys, and grassy plains of Kenya. The show was all charm from Bourdain, with a healthy dose of self-deprecating humor — basically exactly what we grew to love about the TV host. It’s a fun, light, and funny episode of travel and food TV.

It’s also the last of its kind. The last full episode of the show in which Bourdain hosts and offer voiceover reflections.

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Two moments hit pretty hard. If Bourdain was still around, these moments would feel par for the course. With him gone, they cut deeper. First, there’s a scene where Bourdain and Bell are perched on an overlook taking in the wilderness of Kenya’s great plains.

“I fucking pinch myself,” Bourdain says to Bell. “I cannot fucking believe that I get to do this, or see this, ever, or that I ever would. Because 44 years old, dunking fries, I knew with absolute certainty that I would never, ever, ever see home, much less this.”

Then the knock out punch comes in Bourdain’s closing credits voiceover — often the spot where he’d lend a profound insight.