The Lessons Left by Anthony Bourdain

The Lessons Left by Anthony Bourdain

The celebrity chef, television personality, and author leaves behind a remarkable legacy: one based on prioritizing people, pleasure, and food. Today, we remember his rambunctious disposition along with his dedication to culture beginning, first and foremost, with those who inspire it.

The celebrity chef, television personality, and author leaves behind a remarkable legacy: one based on prioritizing people, pleasure, and food. Today, we remember his rambunctious disposition along with his dedication to culture beginning, first and foremost, with those who inspire it.

Text: Gretty Garcia

It is true that there is an inherent thrill that comes with being one of the first people who discovers something or someone exceptional: a new musician, restaurant, photographer - anything. When it comes to Anthony Bourdain, I, unfortunately, was not one of those lucky firsts. After receiving his book Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly 13 years after its publication, I finally joined the party. Nonetheless, the thrill was undeniably still there, and the party seemed to have no end in sight.

Despite the tragic loss of Bourdain, what was so wonderful about the man that we came to love watching on a myriad of shows on television was that all of us (novice cooks, professionals, dedicated foodies - people - alike) valued his artistry just as much as he valued our personhood.

Bourdain's emphasis on culture, and, more importantly, those individuals responsible for its construction, was entrenched in integrity. One of the biggest manifestations of this integrity, though ultimately never realized, was his overly ambitious (even by New York standards), overly inclusive Food Hall in Pier 57, but, then again, that was just like Bourdain: overly ambitious and overly inclusive.

The site itself was undoubtedly intended to be rooted in his celebration of culture. The chef's main goal?: To bring together those from far-off places in the world to join him on his quest. He claimed: “You bring the people in who know what they’re doing and you let them do it. You bring in the guy who’s the best chicken-and-rice guy in Singapore and just let him do his thing ... Bring in his own signage. I’m not building some arty fucking thing.” Luckily, Bourdain's inherit dedication to unapologetic self expression through tangible food and intangible individuality was anything but arty. It was, however, distinctly artful. The structural project, very much like Bourdain's legacy, is a symbol of the potency of culture.

Bourdain's zest for the fearless pursuit of the unknown is also something worthy of praise. His ability to extol the fearless, uplift the directionless, and praise the nonconformist was a gift he seamlessly provided to the world without asking for anything in return.  Unabashed acceptance seemed to be woven into the very fabric of his DNA.

Bourdain once made the following claim: “Do we really want to travel in hermetically sealed pope-mobiles through the rural provinces of France, Mexico and the Far East, eating only in Hard Rock Cafes and McDonald's? Or do we want to eat without fear, tearing into the local stew, the humble taqueria's mystery meat, the sincerely offered gift of a lightly grilled fish head? I know what I want. I want it all. I want to try everything once.”

Though discarnate, the invaluable lessons left by Anthony Bourdain should not be taken for granted in the slightest. Both his appreciation of the importance and integrity of people and his insatiable pursuit of the unknown truly make him - as one of my dear friends said - "A legend for the culture."

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