Where to even begin — I know thousands upon thousands of us are still grappling with the cold- to-the-touch truth that we have lost a person whose worth was immeasurable. Anthony. Tony. Bourdain. The man with the greatest job in the world who in turn gave us the greatest gift in the world — humanity at its purest and kindest state. He was able to connect us all through his passion to learn, understand and relate to each other — through food, but also through his genuine compassion and curiosity. What I am going to miss the most, is his voice. No one could imitate his narration if they tried. His poetic words and calm and inviting cadence wrapped around me like a hug from an old friend who knew me inside and out. When an episode began, it began with his voice — letting us know we were about to be transported to somewhere amazing and would be in the best hands. He led us to the places we had always wanted to go and sometimes to the places we never thought about going to. He showed us the places we had already been, but with completely different eyes. He gave us the world — the tastes, the sounds, the people. With judge-less ease and interest. To think that we will never hear his voice telling us as new story, that is the sting.
I first became aware of Anthony Bourdain when my dad told me I had to watch this show called, No Reservations. My dad could not say enough about how great it was — we shared a fascination with food and culture and he knew I would love the show too. During the first episode I watched I was entranced. My dad was right, this was great! The travel, the food, the conversations — but most importantly this guy. He was so genuinely happy to be our guide and had an instinct to show us the most valuable aspects of wherever he was in that moment. There was no one else doing what he did — no one else who could DO what he did. I was hooked. Almost every time a new episode aired, my dad and I would talk on the phone during commercial breaks or right after the episode to discuss the food and moments of greatness.
From that first viewing of No Reservations, I wanted to learn everything about Bourdain. I read Kitchen Confidential and fell even deeper in awe. His writing was incredible for one, but also his life story to that point. What he endured and survived. Yes, he was a “bad boy” and thrived on the grit of kitchen life — but he was also a deeply sensitive and kind-hearted person. He was an all or nothing. I continued to read his work and follow his journey, while at the same time I was on my own journey as a food lover. I cannot say Bourdain is the reason I started my blog, but I can say he was one of the reasons I continued it. He kept me excited and re-affirmed my love for food writing and sharing with others time and time again. I am not alone in this — his other gift was that he inspired so many to keep going — keep seeking — keep sharing — keep moving.
Two weeks ago my dad and I were gearing up for the Parts Unknown episode on Armenia. I called him to remind him it was going to be airing, but of course he was aware. My great-great grandfather on my dad’s side, was Armenian, so we were especially intrigued and looking forward to this episode. And that was what Bourdain did — brought people and families together to learn about a land they had never been but had a connection to. All kinds of Americans — whose families immigrated from all over the world were able to see their roots, their past in the most beautiful ways, thanks to Bourdain. I cannot think of a better treasure to give someone. I did not know that would be the last time I would call my dad to talk about a new Bourdain adventure.
It was always a dream to meet him, but like so many others, even though I didn’t, it felt like I did. No other famed personality that I can think of invited you into their world, their heart or their mind the way he did. He was able to make a connection to every viewer, every reader. He was loved all over the world. It was taken as a grand honor by so many countries when he would visit because they knew he wanted to know them, not just observe them. They knew he would show their day-to-day life in the best possible way. He loved the underbellies of the world and shown a light on them — as if to say, “See? It’s not so bad. Everything is going to be alright.”
As his fans we feel the deepest of losses, his friends feel something even worse and for his family I cannot imagine. My heart aches for whatever pain he was suffering to such a degree that it ended this way. We must continue his legacy — travel, eat, learn, love and be curious about the unknown. From the bottom of my gut, thank you.