All it takes is a quick perusal of your local newsstand to realize how dumb celebrity is and how we as a race have almost ruined that one thing that’s supposed to be the coolest and most enviable thing we regular folks can aspire to be. Who doesn’t want to be rich or famous, or at least a little of one? It’s not the American Dream, it’s The Dream. Sadly, so many of the people that get the ink are the ones who are the least interesting or real. Or worse yet, they’re famous for something cheap. Or for being a freak.

Here at we would like to shine a light on folks out there who are doing it right. Some of them aren’t even people who we’re a fan of the output of but self-made individuals who have earned the respect in their own right. You may not agree or you may find a new few favorite folks. Either way, I look forward to your take on it. This list is in no particular order.

The Celebrity: Anthony Bourdain.

What He’s Best Known For: No Reservations, the television show he hosts on The Travel Channel. It’s a show where he travels the world sampling items famous, infamous, and downright nasty from different cultures. It follows A Cook’s Tour, a show Bourdain had on The Food Network. The show is very good in its own right but Bourdain’s wit, fearlessness, and just plain unique charisma makes the setting irrelevant.

The Catalyst for His Success: Kitchen Confidential (book), his account of the “culinary underbelly” of the world of professional kitchens. It’s a lot of things and has value as a character study, a learning tool, or just a really aggressive opinion piece on the other side of a world we think we know.

Career Low Points: The sitcom version of his book (starring Bradley Cooper) shat the bed, but that’s not really his fault.

Why He’s Here: The guy is that perfect kind of asshole. He’s got the snob in him, but he embraces the dirt and there’s nothing beneath him. He’s done a lot of things in his life ranging from massive amounts of drugs and booze to serving as the head chef at various esteemed restaurants all over and his mileage is real. It adds a lot of weight to what he says and does because he’s actually working on a bed of experience. There’s a reason R. Lee Ermey was so effective in Full Metal Jacket and the same goes for Bourdain when it comes to food and culture. But he sharpens his aggression in such a delicious manner, whether attacking talking head TV ‘chefs’ who he feels has sullied the art of cooking or the industry itself. He’s always entertaining, always gives us a good dose of great information, and always seems ready to blow his lid and do something absolutely crazy. Imagine if Julia Child and Hunter S. Thompson were to breed.

He is one of those folks out there who’s put out a series of very good works of fiction and nonfiction, done a variety of different culinary and travel shows, and it seems like there’s more great stuff to come. It’s hard not to admire a guy who’s actually lived the life, lived it hard, and come out on the other side and shared it with us.

Suggested Miscellany: Anthony guest blogs and rips a bunch of TV chefs. His official blog. Buy his goodies from us.