In the season six premiere, Bourdain explores Cuba - just as the half-century U.S. embargo softens and economic and social progress loom - from its bustling capital city Havana, to the slower paced, music mecca Santiago. Sampled food includes pig's head soup with plantains and pumpkin, flan in a beer can, and dogfish ceviche with pickled vegetables. The tour culminates with a dialogue-free tracking shot capturing the hopeful anxiety of its people, seemingly waiting for something to start.
Bourdain and his travel companion, chef Eric Ripert (Le Bernardin), visit France's oldest city to experience its stew of cultures and cuisines, indulging in chef Gerald Passedat's famous bouillabaisse, the classic pied et paquets, Algerian couscous and as much salumi and Corsican cheeses as they can handle. The pair also meet crime novelist Cedric Fabre, esteemed chef Georgiana Viou, and journalist Gilles Rof.
The alluring island of Okinawa, which endures tragic memories from World War II battles, is explored by Bourdain from historical, political, cultural and culinary perspectives. The tour includes a bloodless bullfight over a bowl of Yakisoba, a retrospective meal of Tundabun with the city's former governor, and a demonstration of open-hand karate experienced first-hand by Bourdain.
Bourdain visits the Bay Areas of San Francisco, Oakland and San Jose to take a personal journey - in martial arts training with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu instructor Kurt Osiander, and healing through food, featuring dinner at the original Trader Vic's with author Sean Wilsey (Oh the Glory of it All) and at soul food restaurant Real Miss Ollie's with Bobby Seale (Black Panthers founding member).
Acclaimed chef Marcus Samuelsson (Red Rooster, Aquavit) and his wife Maya take Bourdain on a personal tour of their native country to experience this nation beyond the headlines, first in Addis Adaba where they sample injera bread and beyaynetu platters, followed by drinking Turbo and eating Tibs with local skateboarding pioneers, listening to the traditional music of Azmari singers and legendary Ethiopian-jazz musician, Mahmoud Ahmed, a sampling Ethiopian coffee and a village feast with Maya's family in the Gurage region.
After a 10 year absence, Bourdain abides by his promise to return, dining on chicken rendang for a reunion meal at Aunty Aini's, taking a boat ride to Kuching, traveling back to the longhouse at Entalau to attend the Gawai Rice festival, and acquiring a new hand-tapped tattoo, prefaced by a stop in "street food paradise" Kuala Lumpur for pork noodles and black pepper crab.
The cliché East meets West rings true in Istanbul as Bourdain explores its confluence of food, culture and politics, featuring a Turkish breakfast with old friend Esra, an oil wrestling tournament, and lunch at an Armenian restaurant near the Golden Horn. Bourdain leaves the urban sprawl of Istanbul for Sedef Island and a meal with author and philosopher Gündüz Vassaf and celebrated Turkish actress Serra Yilmaz.
For the season finale, Bourdain travels with "one of America's most important chefs", Sean Brock, to sample Charleston's varied food offerings including traditional Gullah cuisine, and oyster pie and shrimp and grits at Brock's restaurant Husk with actor and a Charleston resident, Bill Murray.