The Food World Traveler: Anthony Bourdain’s Adventure in Thailand

March 4, 2015
By Lauren Gutierrez

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We have been covering Adobe InDesign for my Visual Communications class the past couple of weeks. Our assignment was to profile someone, something, someplace and create a magazine style layout for it. The content was free reign, we could make up an interview or elaborate on a fictional character. The main idea was to experiment our use of space, content layout, and graphic design.

I decided to profile Anthony Bourdain because my family and I sit down together to watch his shows. It’s become a thing we do now. We record the episodes on the DVR and have a Saturday morning watchathon.

I was doing some research on profiles to get ideas and came across this blog post on Tumblr’s Storyboard called, “The Art of the Profile with David Remnick” written by Chris Mohney. Remnick has been a writer at The New Yorker since 1992 and editor since 1998. He talked about the tenacity, creativity, and intellectualism behind profiles. He points to the exemplary Gay Telese’s 1966 profile piece entitled “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold” which was rich in detail and flavor without ever having met Sinatra except from afar. It’s taking factual accounts and extrapolating on them to create something radical by use of words, sentences, and structure. He believes they should be more than a simple narrative with beginning, middle, and end.

“The thing about the profile — with the exception of the parameter that it has to be true, where its facts have to be facts, and I’m a big believer in that, in a conservative sense — everything else can be radical. Structure, sentence structure, word choice, descriptive powers … all those tools that are open to you as a literary writer should be open to you as a profile writer.”

When I sat down to put my piece together I thought about the things I know about Bourdain and what I could put on the page to portray that. He seems to really enjoy Thai food and has been to Thailand on his show. I know from watching his shows and reading his books that he has a unique tone in his writing and speaking style; It’s sort of a dark humor. So I looked up the transcript from the show and used that in my piece. Whatever I could’ve made up was not going to be as interesting as what he actually said. From there I added in my own narrative around it. Not sure if it’s as radical as Remnick but it’s not too shabby. I’m excited to take another shot at this type of writing and design!