Season eight began on Sunday, September 25 at 9pm ET/PT with a trip to Hanoi, Vietnam featuring dinner with president Barack Obama. The nine-episode season also features tours of Nashville, Sichuan, London, Houston, Japan, Minas Gerais, Buenos Aires, and Rome.
Inspired by Graham Greene's words “... whatever you’re looking for, you will find here...” Bourdain joins the throngs of locals as he motorbikes through Vietnam’s capital, traverses its rapidly changing cityscape, and indulges in its singular cuisine with president Barack Obama, who, over a dish of Bun Cha, shares personal stories and reflects on his own international travels.
Bourdain absorbs the tastes, sights and sounds of music city, from chef Josh Habiger's Catbird Seat and Bolton's famous hot chicken, to a night of cooking, drinking and rocking out with singer Alison Mosshart, and her bandmates. The episode features performances by The Kills, Dead Weather and Margo Price.
Michelin star chef, and all around good sport, Eric Ripert is introduced to China and Sichuan province by host and good friend Bourdain. Bourdain takes Ripert to the Sichuan province capital, Chengdu, testing his endurance with mouth-numbing, sinisterly spicy meals (like green peppercorn fish). They also visit the world’s largest stone Buddha, seek out a local favorite rabbit head snack, and visit a legendary distillery for some Baijiu, a fermented sorghum wine. Ripert will never forget this trip.
Visiting London, post Brexit vote, Bourdain finds comfort in classic British cuisine including roast bone marrow at chef Fergus Henderson’s famed restaurant St. John, Scotch eggs at Princess Victoria Pub with Nigella Lawson, and pig’s trotter a la Pierre Koffman with chef Marco Pierre White at the Rudloe Arms, plus a meeting with revered artist Ralph Steadman at his studio.
Looking beyond oil, NASA, and football, Bourdain explores Houston’s diverse cultures, taking in a Bollywood-style dance in a grocery store, a Quinceañera in suburban Pasadena, and the city’s slab car parade, while making time for Viet-Bayou crawfish, East Texas barbecue, and a Congolese-Cajun stew.
Guided by world-renowned chef Masa Takayama, Bourdain’s return trip to Japan begins with a tour of outdoor food markets in Kanazawa where they sample uni, steak-sized oysters, and grilled eel liver, followed by a conversation with an ex-geisha at her teahouse, and comes full circle with a special omakase experience at Tokyo’s acclaimed Ginza restaurant, Sushi Koi, where Masa trained as an apprentice.
Bourdain’s trip to meat-centric Buenos Aires during the hot summer month of February, features a meal with chef Francis Mallmann at one of his favorite local spots, Don Carlito's, and an after-hours soccer match accompanied by Soledad Nardelli and the kitchen staff of Chila.
Bourdain explores the Brazilian heartland, known as the region where all the best cooks come from, and namesake to the country’s mining history. Home to baroque architecture, lush hillsides and mineiro cuisine (influenced by Portuguese, African and Indigenous people), which includes frango ao molho pardo (broiled chicken served in a sauce made using its own blood), that the host samples during a traditional country meal.
Bourdain’s Roman holiday takes a cinematic turn, influenced by his tour guides, actress Asia Argento, screenwriter/director Abel Ferrara, and a host of larger than life Romans who take him inside a Rome for the locals. Bourdain shares drinks at the ‘Friends Corner’ trattoria in Lido di Ostia, dines a traditional Roman meal at Trattoria Morgana, eats pasta and watches an amateur boxing match in the suburbs, and takes a trip to the famed E.U.R zone built by Mussolini.