Friday, June 8, 2018

RIP Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain on Humility
Celebrity chef and tv personality Anthony Bourdain, took his own life by hanging himself while on location filming for his CNN show "Parts Unknown" in Paris.  He was 61.

Bourdain was had a checkered past as he worked his way through the New York luxury restaurant scene. Bourdain had to overcome addiction to cocaine, LSD and heroin.  Bourdain quipped that before his first book, Kitchen Confidential, was published in 2000, he was a guy in his 40s who had never paid rent on time, owed ten years of taxes and did not own a piece of furniture. Between his books and food shows, Bourdain's fortunes changed and he amassed a personal wealth of $16 million.

Bourdain's books, Kitchen Confidential (2000) led to a Food TV series A Cooks Tour in 2002 that vaulted him into celebrity chef status.  Bourdain then jumped to the Travel Network for his iconic series No Reservations in 2005, which included a warning for graphic language. 

In 2013, Bourdain began his series "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown" which linked culture with cuisine.  The show won the Peabody Award in 2013 as judges noted that Bourdain expanded our palates and horizons in equal measure. 

While Bourdain traveled the world in search of a good meal, he appreciated how Asian American influence was shaping contemporary American cuisine.  Bourdain also noted that the fact that 50% of Toronto's residents are not from Canada gives it strength for interesting food. 

One can intuit that Bourdain agreed with his observations about Italian, Spanish, Vietnamese and Chinese food culture:  "[They] see food as part of a larger, more essential and pleasurable part of daily life. Not as an experience to be collected or bragged about- or as a ritual like filling up a car - but as something else that gives pleasure, like sex or music, or a good nap in the afternoon." 

Despite his prominence on the culinary circuit, Bourdain was not reticent to criticize fellow celebrity chefs such as Paula Dean, Rachel Ray and Bobby Flay. The Smithsonian dubbed Bourdain a rock star of the culinary world and the Elvis of bad boy chefs.    Notwithstanding that articulated antipathy, many celebrity chefs had no reservations in expressing stunned condolences at Bourdain's passing.

Sadly, Bourdain's apparent suicide moots his daydream of retirement: "I'm definitely looking forward to the day when I stop working - if I ever stop working.  I like the idea of kneeling over in my tomato vines in Sardinia or northern Italy." 

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