Anthony Bourdain: A Small Look At A Culinary Giant

By Marieval Yebra

There are many things running through my head at this moment. Nevermind the fact that I am drinking a few beers after a long day of work and smoked a much-needed bowl, it’s the topic of today’s article that has my mind running 90 miles an hour which is probably faster than my Camry can go.

As most of us probably know by now its that a culinary master and an established author has fallen prey to the epidemic that has taken so much talent away from us and left us with the plethora of questions as to why would someone take their own life? What would make them take on that action that would no doubt end their time on this planet?

Anthony Bourdain is a name that has no doubt been circulating your news feed or Twitter pages for years with his wise quotes and quick wit. With his dazzling personality that puts many at ease and his casual bluntness that made him a hit with the outcasts of the culinary world. Whether you have cooked for a month or a decade he is that person that made you want to pursue your cooking passion or any kind of career passion for that matter. He is the man that made you want to fly by the seat of your pants and say ‘Fuck it let’s do this.’

Sadly this man is no longer with us. Though his memory will live on in his numerous books and television appearances. Not to mention he has mainstreamed the “foodie” culture.

Anthony Bourdain passed away this last Friday due to suicide. That’s right, the badass of the food world has left us for good.

Even though most of us would love to remember the way he lived more than the way he died, let’s not forget that he lost his life from a cause that has become so prominent that it happens more than twice a month in the celebrity world. I could only imagine what it’s like in the everyday world when it comes to suicide rates. Sorry if I’m being blunt again I am drinking some much needed spirits after a long day of dishwashing and minute prepping.

This man made me want to succeed in the kitchen. He is what made me want to take on new countries and cuisines. He is the embodiment of being a kick add chef and an advocate for those less powerful. Sadly, in my minds stupor, I can hear his voice narrating every word that I am typing up writing an article in remembrance of him.  But let’s stop thinking about him as the latest suicidal victim and let’s remember him as a culinary artist or freelance wise guy.

The first time I remember Anthony Bourdain being brought across my tv screen was when he was making No Reservations. I just had been thrown into the midst of marital throws, yeah, to most that would be the best time ever, to me it was full of anxiety. Anyways, I remember many great days spent watching Anthony Bourdain and his introductions narrated in way that his voice carries out into your own kitchen. As I write this with his voice sprinkled in the background, I am watching an episode of No Reservations… Yeah, I know I’m totally immersed in Anthony Bourdain, I can’t help it, the man is a genius.

He lived to eat and show the world that anyone, well as long as you love to enlighten your taste buds was enough to get out and try new things. To take part in a new culture if even for a second. He sat down with everyone from an American President to a mob boss to take part in something that we take for granted every day, a meal. Sharing a meal can show so much about a person and how they appreciate their daily lives. He showed us that some of the best meals in the world do not cost us hundreds of dollars but they come from families with tradition and a taste for their ancestors.  He exposed the family that everyone so much craves for.

I can say the world is going to be a much more sad and lonesome place that this kitchen master is gone. But the truth is it’s not, I will keep cooking in the hopes that I will one day reach Anthony Bourdain status, no promises though. 

The one thing I can say is that if we keep losing those people that we deem important or special that world will be a lot more boring.  In the last year, we have lost many of our heroes, why? Suicide. How do we prevent suicide? No clue. But we can help prevent the feelings that a drive a person to commit act of treason upon themselves.

Just like Anthony Bourdain most of the ones that fall prey to suicide, are successful or talented and have given a lot to world. So why do it? Because as someone who has contemplated suicide in the past, it really doesn’t matter how you make everyone else feel, it’s how you feel about yourself. It’s whether or not you have those feeling a to keep going. 

The things that have helped throughout my battle with self harm is when someone takes it upon themselves to care about you without being told to or made to.

When someone, anyone asks you “Are you okay?”   

In the hustle of today’s world we might forget that there’s are billions of other people in the world and they are all fighting their own battles. They are all trying to make it. They are all trying their hardest to get by and be successful. Everyone is striving to become a better version of themselves. So, most of us forget to acknowledge one and another in hopes of making it. We casually push each other aside, especially if we happen to work in the same field. We all want to be the best in our careers. But with that, we end missing the big picture. Unless it has to do with money, most of us should strive to work together. Sadly, this lesson was not taught until I worked in a kitchen. In a kitchen no matter the size or the amount of starts that you hope to earn. No matter the menu, everyone there is working together. No one man is for himself. From the dishwasher up to the sous chef.  Even if you’re a freelance writer you still have to work with editors, etc. So why not take one second out of your day to ask that one question “Are you okay?”

Don’t forget to say, “Thank you,” every once in a while too. Seriously, you never know the impact you may have on someone whether its asking if one is alright or giving someone a compliment. 

Back to happier thoughts… Anthony Bourdain will no doubt be inspiration for generations to come. He will always be remembered as a man oozing with sauve sophistication and finding new ways to make the F word more grown up. Even though many of us will never reach professional chef status or travel the world in search of that delicate, delicious morsel that we crave, we will make sure that his memory stays very much alive through the dishes we make and the stories that surround our favorite Anthony Bourdain episodes from either No Reservations or Parts Unknown. We can re-read his words in Kitchen Confidential and try to relate to the tumultuous life of a kitchen worker, or the Bobby Gold series a little bit of food and little bit violence always go hand in hand.

With this, I bid you a farewell until my next article. Hope that most of you will take a minute to remember all of those that we have lost and take a minute to see what you still have. Hope that you are reading during a good food sesh or a smoke, never one to judge. Regardless of where this article finds you, I leave you with a few of my favorite Bourdain quotes.. Look at them as a cliffs notes for having an adventure, because after all “To live is a …great adventure” to paraphrase another genius Robin Williams..

“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s ok. The journey changes you; it should change you… You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”

“Travel is about the gorgeous feeling of teetering in the unknown.”

“Skills can be taught. Character you either have or you don’t have.