Anthony Bourdain was a big personality. Brazen and outspoken, he wasn’t for everyone. He liked it that way. On one hand, he could be painfully critical of both popular travel show hosts and fellow celebrity chefs. On the other hand, he was quietly generous with veterans, Make-a-Wish, small restaurant owners, and minority workers. He supported women’s rights. He inspired travel.
And he knew travel. Intuitively, he understood that the best way to understand food was to visit the place it came from. Culture, crops, cooking methods. What’s fresh and available. Oh, and whatever local beverage–fermented or not–washed it all down.
Yes, Bourdain began as a chef. A Vassar dropout, he graduated from The Culinary Institute of America in 1978 and clocked many years as executive chef at Brasserie Les Halles in New York City. If he hadn’t written Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly in 2000, we’d probably have no idea who he was. Thankfully, he did. With the success of his book, he was off and running.
Anthony Bourdain’s passion was finding great food at its source. Starting with his first show, A Cook’s Tour, in 2002, he never stopped traveling. When he did No Reservations, he sometimes seemed bleary-eyed and “over-served,” but we went right along with him. Everywhere.
Disgruntled with The Travel Channel’s new ownership, he went to CNN in 2013 and launched Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. He was filming the 11th season at the time of his death by suicide. The new show still covered culture and cuisine, but expanded to include politics and world views. There was no doubt where he was on the Liberal-Conservative spectrum.
While he never strayed from his love for food, we were inspired by his enthusiasm for seeking it out, no matter where it was found. His travels made us want to go, too. Maybe we couldn’t go to the extent he did, but he set off a longing to see the world and taste it. A longing that won’t stop now…
Travel Quotes from Anthony Bourdain
In his memory, let’s pause to read some of his quotes and remember the man who respected the people he met and was delighted to learn from them.
“I think food, culture, people and landscape are all absolutely inseparable.”
“Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life — and travel — leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks — on your body or on your heart — are beautiful. Often though, they hurt.”
“If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. The extent to which you can walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food, it’s a plus for everybody. Open your mind, get up off the couch. Move.”
“There’s almost never a good reason to eat on a plane. You’ll never feel better after airplane food than before it. I don’t understand people who will accept every single meal on a long flight. I’m convinced it’s about breaking up the boredom. You’re much better off avoiding it. Much better to show up in a new place and be hungry and eat at even a little street stall than arrive gassy and bloated, full, flatulent, hungover. So I just avoid airplane food. It’s in no way helpful.”
“When I’m in a city that’s new to me, I try to go to the central market very early in my trip. I’ll go at 6 a.m., when people are shopping for businesses. You get to see what people buy and really eat.”
“It seems that the more places I see and experience, the bigger I realize the world to be. The more I become aware of, the more I realize how relatively little I know of it, how many places I have still to go, how much more there is to learn. Maybe that’s enlightenment enough – to know that there is no final resting place of the mind, no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom, at least for me, means realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go.”
Rest in Peace, Anthony Bourdain. You will be missed.
Updated June 26, 2021
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