“To be treated well in places where you don’t expect to be treated well, to find things in common with people you thought previously you had very, very little in common with, that can’t be a bad thing.” – Anthony Bourdain
I woke up to the news early Friday morning as I was getting ready to put my phone down for the night (your morning). I wanted it to be one of those awful internet hoaxes that seem to dispose of people daily. This time, I had to double check to make sure I completely understood what I was reading. Frantically looking for other sources, I had to succumb to my emotions and to the fact that indeed, my travel hero, beloved and respected chef Anthony Bourdain was gone.
It’s 5:37 a.m. here on the West Coast and I’m writing this to get every piece of raw emotion out because I do not believe I will be able to get a wink of rest. Only a few days ago, Kate Spade passed away under similar circumstances, but I hadn’t connected to her or her brand as much as I connected with Bourdain. A former friend of mine hated him so much that every time I spoke about him as if he were a rock star (he was a fucking rockstar thank you very much), she would roll her eyes, and say, “He’s an asshole though.”
“But he’s MY fucking asshole, and he’s one hell of a chef!” I’d reply.
Yes, in fact, his brashness and spark are why many saw as him being an arrogant prick or pompous ass, but he was a respected chef in the culinary world, and for many travel writers, he was the epitome of storytelling and adventure. I’m pretty sure I tweeted to him asking to be part of his show or just to let me do the Mexicana version of it. He poked fun at everything including himself. He was candid about his past drug use, and it felt at least to me that he had beaten those demons with martial arts. Just watching video clips of him doing capoeira made me question what the hell was I doing with my own life?! He was just so raw and in your face that you couldn’t look away even if you wanted to. If he had an opinion about something, anything, he’d make sure to tell you about it. In 2015, he went after Food Network chefs, whom he thought couldn’t cook. Here’s what he said about one Guy Fieri (not his real name by the way):
“The minute that you become a father, certain truths become immediately obvious to you. The first second you see your daughter’s head corkscrew out of the womb and open her eyes, they are pretty much saying “Lose the Ramones shirt.” . . . So I’ve made some adjustments in my life. So I sort of feel in a heartfelt way for Guy [Fieri]. I wonder about him. He’s 52 years old and still rolling around in the flame outfit . . . What does he do? How does Guy Fieri de-douche?”
Ouch. I could go on with these, but search Bourdain vs. [fill in the blank], and you’ll find something worthwhile.
Bourdain is the reason why I’m writing this and why this blog was born. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve always loved to write and to travel. Hell, I also come from the restaurant world, as a former sous chef, which is why I am so hellbent on breaking down food experiences down to the last piece of garnish on the plate. In all seriousness, I saw a bit of myself when I saw him on television having watched all of his series from A Cook’s Tour to Parts Unknown.
It was his guerrilla style of travel that made it more exciting for me. He taught millions of viewers how to completely immerse themselves into a culture through food in their trips. He challenged the status quo and encouraged others to do the same. I traveled each week without leaving my home, and I learned about parts of the world before setting foot on foreign lands.
He would have turned 62 on the 25th. As a writer, travel junkie and home cook, I’ve admired this man so much for so long that it hurts me deep in my core to know that the last chapter of his story has been written. From his storytelling and ability to connect with others through food and travel, his body of work will continue to inspire me and others. Still, as the details keep coming out, who knows what happened, what made him feel this was the only way. I’m beyond heartbroken.
Thank you for blessing us with your presence, Anthony.