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Azerbaijan Is Boiling Mad At Celebrity Chef Anthony Bourdain

According to Russian press accounts, the CNN host and famed chef is blacklisted from the country for visiting a disputed territory.

Last updated on October 25, 2017, at 3:03 p.m. ET

Posted on October 25, 2017, at 12:54 p.m. ET

Famed celebrity chef and star of CNN's Parts Unknown, Anthony Bourdain may be in hot water after he managed to cook up some trouble with the Azerbaijan government recently.

Mike Coppola / Getty Images

(You clicked on a story about a chef, you deserve every food pun that is whipped up in this article.)

While filming an episode focused on the cuisine and cultures of Armenia last week, Bourdain posted this picture to his Instagram, showing him about to board a military chopper.

The flight was necessary to get Bourdain into the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, an enclave inside Azerbaijan's borders that Armenia claims is its territory — a dicey situation, if you will.


Ever since a war between the two countries ended in 1994, Armenian forces have occupied the territory, a situation that remains grating for the Azeri government.

The episode only just finished shooting, so it's not clear yet exactly what Bourdain did while in the region, but he took time on Twitter to shout out the lead singer of System of a Down* for getting him to go in the first place.

Thanks @serjtankian for finally getting me to Armenia and making it awesome.

(*Editor's Note: We changed the band's name back to the real one, nobody would get "SIFTER of a Down.")

But you know who was steamed about the whole thing? Hikmet Hajiyev, a spokesperson for the Azeri Foreign Ministry, who roasted Bourdain on Twitter in response.

@Bourdain @serjtankian @cnni to present ethnically cleansed land of #Azerbaijan by #Armenia as travel show shameful…

"@cnni to present ethnically cleansed land of #Azerbaijan by #Armenia as travel show shameful and #immoral," Hajiyev tweeted. "It must be stopped!"

The tweet may have just been an appetizer for the trouble Bourdain is in. Hajiyev later told Azeri news agency APA on Oct. 19 that Bourdain's trip was being "investigated" and that "a decision will be made after the investigation."

Craig Barritt / Getty Images

Baku has kept a list of foreigners who were banned for visiting Nagorno-Karabakh for years now, most recently adding three US lawmakers to the list of people who'd burned them.

And now, according to Russian news outlet RIA Novisti, Bourdain's goose may already be cooked.

Danny Moloshok / Reuters

"The host of the show on CNN, American chef Anthony [Bourdain] will be included in the list of undesirable persons for illegally visiting the occupied territories of Azerbaijan," Hajiyev told RIA Novosti on Tuesday.

BuzzFeed News confirmed that scoop on Wednesday. "We confirm that for violation territorial integrity and sovereignty, as well as laws of Azerbaijan, A. Bourdain has been blacklisted," Hajiyev wrote in a DM on Twitter.

Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images

"We do regret that he has made himself a propaganda tool to justify and disguise occupation of Azerbaijan's lands by Armenia," he wrote. "Making a culinary show from seized lands is utter disrespect to one million Azerbaijani refugees & [internally displaced peoples who were] forcefully displaced."

In the meantime, an assistant with Bourdain says that the chef has no comment.

Danny Moloshok / Reuters

CNN, for its part, "has no comment on the matter" either, per a spokesperson.

If the ban holds, Bourdain, who has already been to the country of Georgia, will no longer be able to complete the Caucasus Trifecta. But, I suppose, sometimes that's just the way the cookie crumbles.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.