I can’t believe that it has been a year since we lost Anthony Bourdain. He was a man with a larger-than-life persona that inspired people to travel outside of the box and engage with the local people, customs and delicacies.
If you haven’t heard of Anthony Bourdain, let me introduce you to the amazing person. If you are familiar with his travels, take a moment and think about how he may have influenced your travel by going somewhere off the beaten-path, engaging with the locals or partaking in a local meal that you have never tasted. He has inspired me to travel to places that I never would have considered and venture outside of the traditional tourist activities.
Anthony was always his own man and followed his soul beginning at an early age. He grew up in New Jersey and after seeing films, he and his friends would go to a restaurant to discuss the film over a meal. As a teen, his family took a vacation to France where he tried his first oyster on a fisherman’s boat. Anthony was hooked on the finer side of food.
He attended Vassar College while working seafood restaurants in Massachusetts, which inspired his decision to pursue cooking as a career. After two years at Vassar College, he dropped out. Anthony shifted gears and attended The Culinary Institute of America, graduating in 1978. He went on to run various kitchens in New York City before becoming executive chef at Brasserie Les Halles.
Anthony also had a tough side. He went though a period of drug use including cocaine, heroin, and LSD. He was a heavy, two-pack-a-day smoker. To his credit, he kicked the drugs and in 2007 he quit smoking.
As the 20th century was coming to an end, Anthony started writing books which became New York Times best sellers. The titles included:
- Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly (2000)
- A Cook’s Tour (2001)
- The Nasty Bits (2006)
- Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook (2006)
- No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach (2007)
He wrote numerous articles published in leading newspapers and magazines around the world. Anthony was nominated for a Webby Award in 2008 for Best Blog in the cultural/personal category.
After establishing himself as an author, Anthony turned to television. His first series was A Cook’s Tour for the Food Network premiering in 2002. It ran for 35 episodes and allowed Anthony to host a show that became a food and world-travel show.
His second TV series was No Reservations, which ran from 2005-2012 on the Travel Channel and was followed by The Layover in 2013. The premise of The Layover was to explore a city on an air travel layover of 24 to 48 hours. This series ran for 20 episodes.
In 2013, CNN gave Anthony his big break with his own travel show – Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. Millions of people welcomed Anthony Bourdain into their living rooms on Sunday nights to see what exotic locale Anthony would take us next. His focus was engaging with the locals – their food, their customs and their traditions. The best experience for him was to be invited by a family to spend the evening in their home for dinner and conversation. What better way to understand the people of a foreign land than to visit them in their home and becoming part of the culture. He inspired me to do activities that I never would have considered like taking a cooking class and taking a Sommelier-led wine tour in various winery estates while in Florence, Italy.
Anthony not only dined with the locals; he many times shared a meal with famous people. Some of his favorites were rockers such as Alice Cooper and Iggy Pop. In 2016, Anthony was in a restaurant in South Viet Nam sharing a beer and a meal with President Barack Obama.
Parts Unknown ran for 12 seasons until his death. Over the course of the series, Parts Unknown won 10 Primetime Emmy Awards and the Peabody Award in 2013.
While shooting an episode in Kaysersberg-Vignoble, Haut-Rhin in France, Anthony was found dead in his hotel room on June 8, 2018 of a suicide. He died just 17 days before his 62nd birthday. A year later, it is still not known why he took his life. I look at a man who appears to be living on top of the world and I can’t image what caused Anthony to take his life. In a fitting tribute to this world-traveler, CNN produced an hour-long special celebrating Anthony Bourdain from the eyes and the words of his production team. It was a touching tribute from the people that knew him best. Anthony was a perfectionist whose team had a deep respect for him.
The Culinary Institute of America has just announced a scholarship program named after Anthony Bourdain. How appropriate it is to have a lasting legacy to one of their famous graduates.
Farewell my friend on your final journey.