Anthony Bourdain marveled at how lucky he was to get to travel the world for Parts Unknown while filming what would become one of his final episodes.
The famed celebrity chef and star of the hit travel and food show died at age 61 in June. This Sunday, CNN will start airing the 12th season of Parts Unknown, which was filmed months before Bourdain’s death. On the first episode, comedian W. Kamau Bell, host of CNN’s United Shades of America, which was inspired by Parts Unknown, travels with the chef to Kenya.
“The idea that I’m sitting here with you, doing this now, knowing where my life and career have come, it’s pretty cool,” Bell tells the host in the episode, as seen in a CNN promo released this week.
“Seventeen f–king years. As soon as the cameras turn off, the crew will be sitting around, we’re having a cocktail, I f–king pinch myself,” Bourdain tells him. “I cannot f–king believe that I get to do this.”
Bell told the Daily Beast recently, “I was like, I’m going to take this opportunity to tell him how I feel about him and how surreal all this is. And then he leaned in and told me how he felt about his whole career. If we had gotten on the plane at that moment I would have felt like I got what I needed to get out of this.”
“Every night after we finished shooting, we would all hang out, me, him and the crew,” Bell continued. “We would stay up and we would talk. So for me, he could have been the guy I wanted him to be on camera and then just gone to his hotel room and not wanted to talk to me, but the fact was that we hung out a lot together.”
In the episode, the two visit Nairobi. They sit a hill and watch giraffes in the wild and go on a safari ride. Bourdain also takes a ride in a tiny propeller plane.
During their trip to Kenya, the two try several native dishes, such as slow-cooked goat’s head and cow’s blood.
“This is eye I’m eating right here? That’s my first eye,” Bell says.
“Yeah?” Bourdain replies. “Alright!”
“I know I’d end up doing something like that with you,” Bell says.
The new season also sees Bourdain traveling to New York City, Spain, west Texas and Indonesia.
“Tony has made some of the best television in the history of television,” Bell says in the CNN promo. “It’s the most compelling, smartest, I really felt like a passenger and just wanted to be present for it and I didn’t want to suck. That was my overwhelming feeling of like, ‘Don’t screw up this show.’ Everybody who had dreams of traveling with Tony, it’s exactly as cool as you’d think it is.”