Why Anthony Bourdain Had Major Beef With Kobe Sliders

Anthony Bourdain was a vocal fan of juicy, greasy burgers. But the no-nonsense chef and presenter also liked to keep things simple when it came to the beef-and-bun combo, and was scornful of pretentious touches. "I don't want a tower of foie gras with microgreens," he explained in "A Cook's Tour" (via YouTube).

The bread is important for a good burger, of course, with brioche being the worst bread for burgers, according to Anthony Bourdain, who much preferred a potato bun. But the meat is a crucial component, too. And while Bourdain favored good quality beef in his bun, there was one particular burger trend that he absolutely could not get on board with: Kobe sliders. In fact, he went so far as to describe Kobe sliders as "the epicenter of douchedom" (per YouTube).

It wasn't the Kobe beef itself that Bourdain had beef with. The unique marbled texture of the prized Japanese meat is partly what makes Kobe steak the most expensive cut. But one issue for Bourdain was that grinding such an exquisite steak to make a burger, and especially something as small as a slider, means that it's impossible to appreciate the quality of the beef's original texture and taste.

Kobe sliders on a menu were a red flag for Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain was not averse to expensive meats such as Kobe, a rare variety of wagyu that must come from the black Tajima breed of wagyu cattle. He once described wagyu as "the most luxuriously fatty, highly marbled, carefully raised, and damned expensive beef on earth" (via YouTube). 

But if you see Kobe sliders on a restaurant or bar menu, the chef's advice was to "turn on your heels and leave" (via YouTube). That's because beef of that quality — especially with such a sought-after, meltingly tender consistency — is simply not appropriate for a slider. The soft texture does not suit being ground and formed into little patties. And if you're adding any sort of sauces or strongly-flavored condiments, then you'd also not be appreciating the rich, meaty taste of the Kobe, either.

Bourdain thought that ordering expensive Kobe sliders was more about "bragging rights" and "bro culture" than enjoying the actual experience of eating the luxurious meat (via Town & Country). Rather, any opportunity to try authentic Kobe should be an occasion to be savored, with the steak as the star.

Kobe sliders might not be made with authentic Kobe beef

With its strict regulations, not to mention its prohibitive price, Kobe beef is very much considered a delicacy. The cattle are bred and raised with enormous care and under stringent rules set by the Kobe Beef Marketing and Distribution Promotion Association, with a limited amount able to be produced and exported from Japan, which is reflected in the eye-watering cost.

When you see Kobe sliders on a menu, there's a good chance it might not actually be the genuine article. Rather, it may be "Kobe-style" beef, or a mixture of wagyu and Angus breeds, which is not the same as authentic Kobe. All Kobe should include a certificate of authenticity, so you can check its provenance. But even if it is the real deal, you probably don't want to be served it ground up inside a bun.

The best way to enjoy authentic Kobe beef is as a steak — where you can really appreciate the intense fatty marbling and rich taste. Other ways you might see it served are teppanyaki-style where it is grilled in front of you, or as shabu shabu or sukiyaki — where thin slices of the meat are cooked in liquid. Either way, Kobe deserves better than being served as a slider. No wonder Anthony Bourdain believed there was "no food crime worse" (per YouTube).