Remembering Anthony Bourdain: Inside the Adventurous, Insatiable Life of a Culinary Rock Star
Published in Nov 2020 / Updated in Apr 2021
The extraordinary Anthony Bourdain left this world when he was 61. His rich life and adventures that followed made him a culinary rock star.
He was a rebel, always on the road, searching for extraordinary places, tastes, yet keeping it real. Bourdain didn’t sugarcoat things, which is why his star will continue to shine. In a different, Bourdain-esque way.
Bourdain spent approximately 250 days on the road each year, filming Parts Unknown.
Yes, he was totally invested in punk rock, but his lifestyle as a traveling chef resembled even more to the life of an actual rock star.
He was suffering from depression and anxiety. Before, he openly spoke about his issues with drugs. Bourdain’s burden was not something he tried to hide. People around him claim that he was lonely, yet not a loner.
Weeks before his suicide, Bourdain was in a lighter mood. After the release of the June 3 Hong Kong episode of Parts Unknown, which his girlfriend Asia Argento directed, he was in a good mood.
CNN’s Karen Reynolds says:
When I was working with him last week, he was giddy. He was texting me and emailing me, which he doesn’t normally do.
However, his longtime friend, photographer David Holloway, says:
Travel can be a struggle because sometimes it’s easier to think of the place you’d rather be.
He would rave about Rome, where his girlfriend lived. He would say it’s an amazing city to fall in love in.
Most of his close friends say that Bourdain was exhausted, and despite having every reason to live, he was simply tired.
Growing up Anthony Bourdain
Young Bourdain always felt a strong presence of music, since his late father was a music industry executive.
He grew up in a “normal family,” as he stated, adding: “We all ate together. I found it kind of oppressive, actually.”
Anthony and his brother Christopher grew up in Leonia, NJ. Like most kids, their dream was NYC. Perhaps because young Anthony had a great desire to misbehave. He told People:
I envied the broken homes of my friends because they were left alone to misbehave unsupervised.
He attended Vassar for two years and went to the Culinary Institute of America. During the 80s, he was hanging out in the New York clubs and hopping from one job to another.
Bourdain got clean in the early 90s, and in 1999 he had a great job and the first writing gig. His essay Don’t Eat Before Reading This was published in The New Yorker. He most likely had enough of “misbehaving.”
It was the beginning of his career as a writer. That one article turned into the bestselling memoir Kitchen Confidential, which would make him the chef we learned to love.
Kitchen Confidential goes on TV
Bourdain landed his first television show A Cook’s Tour on the Food Network when he was 44. In 2005 he started hosting No Reservations on the Travel Channel.
In 2013 Parts Unknown started. At the time he said:
I have the best job in the world, and I decide where we go. If I’m not having a good time, it’s nobody’s fault; it’s a failure of the imagination.
By this time, he was already married for a second time, and had his first and only child.
He visited almost 100 countries, traveled for 17 years, and was loved by millions. His fans were musicians, movie stars, politicians, as well as his colleagues. Witty, sarcastic, charming, and well-spoken, Bourdain was a real gem.
But his greatest gift was the ability to connect with people, as his photographer Holloway states.
Tony’s thoughts connected with people.
Everyone has a picture and a story. These are real moments because Tony was honest. People feel an honest loss.
Yet, despite his untimely death, Tony should inspire you to follow your dreams and be the person you should be. And if it gets too hard, ask for help.