10 Chefs on the Incredible Impact of Anthony Bourdain
Last Update: June 20, 2018 at 10:24 am
DATE: June 8, 2018
10 Chefs on the Incredible Impact of Anthony Bourdain
As many of us awoke this morning, we were shocked to learn of Anthony Bourdain’s death at age 61 by apparent suicide while filming his hit CNN tv show Parts Unknown in France.
A famed chef, writer, and travel TV host, Bourdain and his fiery personality, sense of humor, unfiltered honesty, and zest for adventure inspired many. With his debut book, Kitchen Confidential, he demystified the atmosphere of fine dining restaurants, removing the white toque to reveal the raunchy, drug-addled underbelly of professional kitchens and an unrelenting intensity and pressure to which many chefs fell prey. Most recently, he was the intrepid host of CNN’s Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, and an outspoken supporter of the #metoo movement. With his wide-ranging travels and marked allergy to snobbery, Bourdain motivated others—fellow chefs and fans alike—to go further in their understanding of food, culture, and the human condition. Whether he was consuming cobra in Vietnam, receiving a tattoo in Borneo, or railing against TV chefs, Anthony Bourdain was a singular person who will be sorely missed. Here, 10 chefs on the ways Bourdain changed their careers and transformed the food world as a whole.
“What resonates with me most about Bourdain was his ability to bring food together in an important way that has really shaped a generation. By showing that even the most humble of home cooking deserved a seat at the same table as fine dining changed restaurant culture for the better. At a time where social media drifts us into isolation, he brought us all together at the table.” -Michael Scelfo, chef of Waypoint and Alden & Harlow
“I was starstruck the first time I met Tony. He asked me in an interview how I would feel about the ‘Creator of the Cronut’ being marked on my tombstone. Years later, I admitted to him it was a question that haunted me, and kept me wanting to create more and to do more in this lifetime. It’s what I’ve always loved about him—he asks the questions that others are afraid to ask, in an honest and genuine way. And always in hopes of changing and challenging things for the better. He did that for me. Thank you, Tony.” -Dominique Ansel, Dominique Ansel Bakery, Dominique Ansel Kitchen
“As an immigrant child, validity from elders is huge for me. Back in 2015, I noticed Anthony Bourdain’s support for me. He cheered on the food at MCF, but even my design choices with our pink awning I designed, and my musical choices of generic spa music like Police covers in our bathrooms. That was a breakthrough because I had just begun tinkering with those areas of a restaurant for the first time. I felt like he really “got me” and told him that—he said that he does get me.
Over the years that were transformational to my career, he supported me—advocated my new exploration in my heritage cuisine, let my dad hug and cry into him when my dad expressed his gratitude for putting Filipino cuisine in a spotlight by visiting my cousin’s restaurant in the Philippines, called me his hero when I bit back at an Ivanka Trump.com request, every time he stood up from his dinner table to greet me (which I always thought was too much), let me tease him, and in a recent dinner meeting shared so much more.
He commended my work so far—that the intersectional approach to work and craft was necessary to the food industry and what I bring to the future in the food world is not just necessary but important. He acknowledged my humility and holistic approach, that my genuine curiosity matters. I was heartwrenched when he opened up to offer to become my mentor. I had so few in my life that earnestly and genuinely mentored me in the food world. I was so looking forward to calling him at 2am with a question. He made up this hypothetical situation and promised to answer. I wish I was able to cash that in and so thankful for forging a path for the real power of the politicization that the food world holds.” -Angela Dimayuga
This morning, I woke to learn of the passing of my friend, Anthony Bourdain. We had much in common personally, not the least of which was the shared mission to learn about cultures around the world through food. Tony was the smartest, funniest of friends, perpetually curious and endlessly charming. There were few people with whom I shared more of myself with, and I always relied on his sagacity and insight as a great barometer of whatever my next move would be. Tony’s life has been endlessly chronicled and he was recently blessed with and lightened by a new love, making it all the more difficult to reconcile this devastating loss. My heart and profound condolences go out to Tony’s family, the three wonderful women in his life, especially his amazing daughter. I only wish a different ending could have been written for one of the world’s most gifted storytellers. Out of respect for all of his friends and family I think it best to leave it there for now and let’s remember all the joy he brought us over the years. I will miss him very much. -Andrew Zimmern, chef and host of Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern
“What I remember most about him was that he was very present and always in the moment. When we spoke I could tell he really listened. His power within the culinary community was amazing. Six years ago he came to eat at Amis, loved it and the next day we were busy for 2 years.” -Chef Brad Spence, executive chef, Amis Trattoria
“Kitchen Confidential was the first time I was able to read about a cook like myself. A book about the industry I am in, telling stories I could relate to. It helped normalize my decision to cook. Kitchen Confidential also was a great opening for the non-industry to really engage with the people on the other side of the door.” -Alex Crabb, Asta
“Tony was very supportive of me, since the first time we met on the set of Top Chef 12 years ago. When he paid me a compliment it made a long lasting impact because simply, he was never full of shit. More well-spoken than I could keep up with. Out living life and exploring the world as I wish I could. I will always admire him and be thankful I got to spend a little time with him.” -Stephanie Izard, Little Goat Diner, Duck Duck Goat
“Anthony Bourdain was a father, chef, and gifted storyteller. My heart is so heavy to have learned of his passing. I never had the chance to meet Anthony, but he was such an inspiration to me in the way that he opened the world to all of us through food. His words guided a whole generation of chefs and restaurant workers, and he strove to make this world a true community. He will truly be missed.” -Mei Lin, Nightshade
“Bourdain changed the game. He redefined and expanded what it meant to be a chef. He captured unlike any other the way food defined human identity—both our similarities and differences—and allowed us to experience the essence of humanity around the world. He is irreplaceable.” -Sam Kass, Founder of Food Technology Company TROVE, Former Assistant White House Chef to Barack and Michelle Obama
“Bourdain truly changed my life. At age 13 I read Kitchen Confidential. inspired, I got my first kitchen job. I fell in love with it. I became a super fan, devoured all his books and followed along as he explored how food connects people from all walks of life. Then at 23 I quit my job to compete on his cooking show. I won. It sent me on a journey I never could have imagined. Thank you for changing the way we think about food, travel and culture. Your interactions with food were always about more than what was on the plate. You opened up a world that existed behind what we consumed and enjoyed—the truth, whether positive or negative, it was always real. Thank you for carving a new path in this wild industry, and showing us the status quo can always be challenged.” -Gabriel Kennedy, The Little Beet
If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) or go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of additional resources.