As we drug ourselves out of our beds and headed towards our various cups of coffee and bowls of cereal to begin the day, we found that we had woken up to a nightmare and most of us just wanted to go back to sleep to start the whole day over again when we saw it. We felt like we needed to pretend as though we hadn’t read the headline that was scrolled across every single channel on TV this morning. But the gut punch was real and we had, in fact, read those words. It was true.
Our hero was gone and sadness permeated the air worldwide as a result. It didn’t need to happen but it did happen. This huge hole that resides in the place that our hearts are supposed to be is made deeper and wider because we found out that Superman needed some help and for whatever reason, felt as though he couldnt ask for it. In turn, a feeling of sheer helplessness filled the 3rd rock from the sun this morning.
The celebrity chef and TV host died of an apparent suicide while in France, according to CNN.
He was a champion to more than just the culinary arts section of society. He was a champion to humans across-the-board. Anthony Bourdain walked into a room and sucked up all the air immediately. He was unapologetic in his flaws but it was his flaws that made him our guy. It was his flaws that made him human and relatable to us. It was his flaws that made us love him. Forget that he was one of the most talented writers to ever touch a pen and pad. Forget that most of us never went to any culinary treasure of a restaurant in a city without wondering if Anthony had been there too. Forget that we all wished he’d cook something for us and show us the right way to prepare those dishes we just couldn’t seem to get right. For he was so much more than those superficial things could ever explain. Which is saying so much.
Ever the great equalizer, Anthony Bourdain, could sit down with a Bushman in the middle of the Kalahari Desert or with nobility at the swankiest restaurant in Paris and make everyone feel as though they won equal footing with him when they sat down to have a meal.
If you travel for a living you know that the worst part of being stuck in a city that you’re unfamiliar with is not knowing where you’re going to eat. That may seem trivial to some but there’s more to it than meets the eye. When youre someplace new, youre looking to find familiarity. You want something that you can come back to and already be acquainted with. Tony Bourdain made that possible. He may have walked into a restaurant as a stranger but he definitely left it as a friend. It made you want to do the same. We know that he wasnt the only person to travel and chronicle his food endeavors. Guy Fieri does exist. Andrew Zimmern does exist. But they dont do it the way he did it. There was a cool swagger to Anthony. There was simply something that made you want to hang out with this guy and experience the things he experienced. In exactly the way that he experienced them. He wasn’t pretentious in his presentation even when the food he dined on was and this made him feel familiar. He was our homeboy in our minds.
He was a cool kid and we all hoped that he’d let us grab a seat and plop down our trays to partake in his awesomeness. We knew he hung out with amazing people from all walks of life and he made us feel like we would be welcome too, if only we were given the opportunity. Thats one of the worst parts of all of this though. Because he’s gone and the idea of that opportunity ever presenting itself must now go with him.
Hell have no idea how many of us longed to sit across from him at the table to talk about life. Thats because no matter where he went there was always someone willing to talk about what a 365 day trip around the sun was like for them. And he did it so effortlessly that he became our advocate for life outside of our own backyards. We saw people in polite society and war-torn countries speak their experiences into our collective consciousness with an ease not commonly afforded to them. It was more than just entertaining or educational. In the wake of the chaos that is our world at the present, it was needed. We needed to view others not the way we chose to view them but in the way they wished to be seen. Bourdain was a professional at allowing people to tell their stories on their own terms.
It didn’t invoke cringes or sighs when he spoke of other cultures. Instead, it beckoned to an underlying wanderlust within us all. We wanted to go to those far-off lands. He had the ability to make you want to not only discover new places but to rediscover cities that we had previously considered ourselves experts on. He was just that charming in every single shot.
CNN’s Kate Bolduan remembers Anthony Bourdain, the gifted chef, storyteller and writer who was pronounced dead at age 61. How to get help: Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
For journalists, he was the ultimate interview warrior. Every journalist dreams of getting subjects to open up and speak on their reality. Anthony not only made it look easy he made it look fun. Neither of those things is true for most people in his position. He didn’t have to be pinging off the walls or eating the grossest things on the planet to get people to let him in. He just had to be Anthony Bourdain. No gimmicks required with his reservation. Hell, he didn’t even need a reservation.
At the end of the day an entire world mourns for a man who through his endless sacrifice and travel, countless eloquently written words, numerous awards for a plethora of different talents became a close friend and inspirational spitfire in our hearts and minds.
Our stations in life, skin color, who we loved, where we resided, nor our physical disabilities never stopped him from wanting to learn and understand about us all. We cherished him for that. We always will.
He routinely called himself an egg-slut” but we called him the truth. Because no matter where he was or what he was doing what he brought us for the better part of 2 decades wasthe truth. Thank You, Mr. Bourdain. Rest well, sir.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. Other international suicide helplines can be found at befrienders.org.