Anthony Bourdain is often described as snarky. His tone, always a no-nonsense “this shit’s great” or “this shit sucks” but with an added twist of verbal flair, was Buzzfeed long before Buzzfeed existed. He was in no way a millennial but I took a shine to his brash way of calling things as he saw them. He had no patience for staged scenes and woe be to anyone who took him for a fool.
His liberal use of “fuck” was ahead of its time and just one of the ways his travels were different than anything else out there. The other way, the way that stuck with me, was his exploration of culture through the food.
“My first indication that food was something other than a substance one stuffed in one’s face when hungry – like filling up at a gas station – came after fourth grade in elementary school.”
This is the first line of the book that put Anthony Bourdain on the map: “Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly,” a personal exposé of the restaurant industry. Turn to any page and you’re bound to find one of his clever turns of phrase that poured out of him as naturally as an exhale.
I picked up the book on a whim at a Boarders and read the thing, front to back, in 24 hours. Anthony is a good story-teller. His ability to weave a rich narrative kept me, and thousands of other viewers, coming back. I watched him visit countries I only vaguely knew of and try foods that looked delicious, tricky, wonderful and tough.
Every time I watch “No Reservations,” or any of Anthony’s other work, I feel the need to get on the next plane and go somewhere. Anthony, and the team around him, brought attention to all cultures, including those that are overlooked, derided, misunderstood and stereotyped. He sat down and shared meals with all walks of life. He always jumped in to help cook when asked, lending a hand in kitchens across the world, deserts, jungles, and family homes. His snarkiness was harsh but he was just as often humble, actively listening and respecting the people he interviewed and shared meals with.
His death is a loss as much as for what he did as who he was.
“Travel is about the gorgeous feeling of teetering in the unknown.” –Anthony Bourdain