Anthony Bourdain was a trailblazer in the industry, a champion of culture, food, and a beloved member of our Chowhound community. In 2018 we chatted with the “Parts Unknown” host. In 2019 CNN compiled a compendium of memories shared about Bourdain by his best friends and biggest fans.
It’s hard to remember a figure from the food world who inspired more sadness in their death and joy in recalling their remarkable life than did Anthony Bourdain, who left us two years ago today. As tragic and unexpected as his passing was, what was subsequently unearthed was not the portrait of a tortured soul or defeated spirit. Quite the opposite, in fact: Anthony was, and is, remembered for his heroic optimism, humanity, and empathy, even in the face of darkness. We knew him through his brilliant and hilarious writing and poignant TV travels exploring the world and all who live there. We loved him for his honesty, his sarcasm, and his willingness to believe in people, no matter what. He seemed to love us back.
Related Reading: The Vibrant Life of Anthony Bourdain: The Journey Changes You
In the weeks and months after his death, you could find tributes to Anthony Bourdain in almost every corner of the internet, food world, and beyond. I remember walking past Brasserie Les Halles in New York—a restaurant Bourdain had helmed for many years. It was months after his death and the restaurant had since shuttered but its facade was transformed into a guerilla memorial and scrapbook of letters, pictures, poems, and memories from adoring fans, many of whom had never met him. It was the type of memorial generally reserved for rock gods and spiritual leaders. Not TV chefs.
Soon after, CNN, who employed Bourdain for his Emmy-winning food and travel series “Parts Unknown,” set up a digital space for folks to share thoughts and come together both in mourning and remembrance. The response was “overwhelming” and the decision to capture it, or at least some of it, in a physical compendium was an easy one. In this book entitled “Anthony Bourdain Remembered,” excerpts from CNN’s digital memorial are interspersed with images of Anthony out on his famous adventures, commiserating with both the meek and the mighty. It is sad, and solemn, and not likely to make you miss Anthony any less, but it is also a stunning portrait of an incredible life, and the profound impact it had on so many.
“We wanted to capture these messages, so representative of Tony’s influence and impact, and save the best of it in one place,” Amy Entelis, Executive Vice President for Talent and Content Development for CNN Worldwide writes in the foreword. “We wanted a book that could be revisited over time and appreciated slowly, like a long, enjoyable meal with a close friend.”
From his dearest compadres and confidantes, like Chef Eric Ripert, to old colleagues, anonymous admirers, and even former President, Barack Obama, the collection of notes seem to have one common thread; Bourdain was an admirer of humanity above all else, and he brought that humanity straight to our doorsteps, inspiring us to reach out and touch it.
“Anthony Bourdain Remembered” is available for purchase in stores, and online. Find a few of our favorite excerpts below.
“Tony was able to see what we are not able to see. He could give importance to things that many of us took for granted. And that’s the beauty of Tony—with just a stroke of a phrase he could make you think about something in ways you never thought possible. In the end, I saw that it was not so much me showing him the region where I was born, which is an important part of myself. At the end of the day, he was showing it to me, and that’s beautiful.” – José Andrés, chef
“Tony literally changed the way I travel. The destinations I now choose, the people I meet, the food I eat. He changed the way I live. He was my mentor even though we never met.” – Monica
“I didn’t know Anthony Bourdain but felt a special kinship and now an acute loss. He excelled at storytelling and finding the very best ones in every morsel of life. I’ll miss him.” – Ken Burns, filmmaker
“There were few greater advocates for the unsung back-of-the-house workers than Anthony Bourdain. Yes, he counted the world’s most prominent chefs among his closest companions. But his tremendous empathy and advocacy was for the line cooks, porters, and dishwashers whose names would never be known or faces seen by the dining public yet without whose grueling labor restaurants would grind to a halt.” – Kat Kinsman, writer
“He introduced my family to the world of traveling and food, so much that my daughter left grad school a year after giving me his book for Christmas. She is now running a Michelin two-star restaurant in NYC.” – Ron W.
Header image by Mario Tomo