Anthony Bourdain was like a punk rock icon himself since his celebrity chef status cannot be compared to the likes of Oliver or Ramsay.
The late Bourdain loved and enjoyed music, making his documentaries more about the food. They were more rock 'n' roll than any traveler/chef achieved. And that makes him irreplaceable.
Integrating his two passions
There's nothing plain or ordinary about Bourdain. From his progressive food to his admiration for punk as a movement, it certainly was a unique blend.
And more than that, the two passions, somehow, managed to work side by side, until his tragic death in 2018.
Young Bourdain was a well-known champion of New York's punk movement. While he was still struggling to get into the world of foods and be one of the best, he saw an interesting parallel between being a chef and a musician.
It's not that hard to imagine Johnny Thunders of New York Dolls and Bourdain hanging around NYC while becoming the new faces of the East Coast's cultural scene.
Little did they know, at the time, that they would leave a mark, and their legacy cannot be overlooked. Not by New York City, or their armies of fans.
Punk rock chef
His love for Thunders was profound, so Bourdain also spoke fondly about his musical hero and a friend. He stated once:
Johnny Thunders guitar made life worth living again and gave permission to everything good that followed, like New York punk. Joyously nihilistic.
But his love for punk and the mutual understanding go beyond Thunders. Marky Ramone was also close to the late chef, explaining soon after his death:
When we talked about music, he'd tell me about how he used to hang around CBGBs.
He loved the whole atmosphere of the place and the political connotations of the whole movement. We talked about how we liked the same music – Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers, the Dolls, the Ramones, Blondie, the Pistols – and he despised right-wing, conservative fanaticism.
The chef who was a true punk
Mark Ramone added more, looking back on Bourdain's character, and the thing that eventually gets to every punk rocker, drugs.
He was a true punk. I mean, look, he did what he did. He tried to maintain a lifestyle without all that garbage in his system, but it was very hard. I always knew there was some kind of edginess in him. But then again, when you do things like [drugs] for part of your life, a lot of times it stays with you. It's hard to get rid of. I mean, I can relate to it because I had my demons.
The American celebrity chef, book author, journalist, travel documentarian, and unexpected icon himself, had depth, an attitude, and never compromised.
At least not on a large scale. That makes him just as important a part of New York's punk scene as the actual musicians. He was a rebel, anti-establishment to the bone, but clever enough not to cross that invisible line between what people want to hear and what they feel like it's preaching.
Beyond music, and despite his death, Bourdain gave anyone struggling with addiction hope that there is life beyond it. And just like Chriss Cornell, everyone thought his demons were gone. But, how foolishly we accepted that just because someone's a great reporter and a great guy, overall, his struggles would magically disappear.
The lesson from Bourdain was clear: don't compromise your ideals. He was transparently imperfect, and that's another thing that makes him immortal.
In the end, Bourdain's life was pure punk rock, and you know that he wouldn't have it any other way. Just like his friend and hero, Thunders.