One of the food world's most prominent figures, alternately thought of as a tells-it-like-it-is iconoclast or a bombastic douchebag, Jersey native Bourdain attended Vassar before dropping out and washing ashore at the Culinary Institute of America. The '80s weren't very productive years for Bourdain: he eventually sobered up and went on to run the kitchens of a handful of mid-range Manhattan restaurants in the '90s.
In 1999 Bourdain's public persona began to take shape when he published an article in the New Yorker called "Don't Eat Before Reading This," a disturbing behind-the-scenes look at the New York restaurant industry. Filled with lessons that quickly became dining gospel (Don't order fish on Mondays, never order swordfish), in 2000 the article was turned into a bestselling book, Kitchen Confidential, earning Bourdain the kind of fame as a media personality that had always eluded him as a chef. He continues to publish books, but he is most commonly recognized from his Travel Channel show No Reservations.
While Bourdain likes to present himself as a culinary expert, his credentials have often been dismissed. Additionally, Bourdain has emerged as the food world's house curmudgeon in recent years, gladly hating on vegans, vegetarians, animal rights activists, foie gras opponents, smoking abolitionists, and other celebrity food personalities. [Image via Getty]