Remembering Anthony Bourdain

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"It's been an adventure. We took some casualties over the years. Things got broken. Things got lost. But I wouldn't have missed it for the world."

Today is one month since the death of Anthony Bourdain, and it is only now that I can begin to put into words the effect it had on me. He was a driving force of the food and travel entertainment industry, and neither would have the success they do without him. It’s impossible to deny the influence he had, regardless of how one may feel about him. Personally, he was a major influence in my life (even if he did hate on vegans and vegetarians).

It may seem dramatic, especially for a celebrity death, but I felt a deep pain upon hearing of his loss. I almost felt like I knew him, a feeling I’m sure many people share with me. He opened himself up in a way that allowed people to feel connected to him, whether through his food, his writing, or his television shows. I first fell in love with Bourdain as a teenager, when my father introduced me to his show No Reservations. Over the years, I remember thinking “I want to do that.” This guy was just so damn cool. He had tattoos. He drank. He smoked cigarettes. He cursed. But most importantly, he immersed himself in the culture of wherever he was visiting. He made me want to eat my way around the world. He made me hunger for something more.

As I got older, I read his books as well, starting, of course, with Kitchen Confidential. The words on the page read just the way he spoke. I became addicted to his writing and subsequently read all of his books, even his random novel Bone in the Throat. He always remained true to himself and his experiences. He never tried to glamorize life in the food industry, as many others have done. He acknowledged the hard work, the thankless hours, the pitiful pay, and embraced them whole-heartedly.  

Recently, Bourdain was a strong supporter of the #MeToo movement, speaking out against the likes Harvey Weinstein and Mario Batali. He also acknowledged how he could have been a better advocate for women in the past. As he stated in an interview with Slate, “I have done stupid, offensive shit. And because I was a guy in a guy’s world who had celebrated a system- I was very proud of the fact that I had endured that, that I found myself in this very old, very, frankly, phallocentric, very oppressive system and I was proud of myself for surviving it.“ It takes a certain kind of person to self-reflect and come to that conclusion, but he accepted and learned from them. That’s just the kind of person he was.

Anthony Bourdain had a personality that made him stand apart. He was cool, intelligent, funny, entertaining, and unapologetic. There was no one else like him, and it is a great loss. He will be missed.  

Perri Lerner