Au revoir Anthony Bourdain
“We ask very simple questions: What makes you happy? What do you eat? What do you like to cook? And everywhere in the world we go and ask these very simple questions,” he said, “we tend to get some really astonishing answers.” (Anthony Bourdain, 2013/NY Post)
CNN reported that celebrity chef, traveler, and advocate, Anthony Bourdain, is dead. CNN confirmed Bourdain, 61, committed suicide. According to CNN, Bourdain was found unresponsive in his hotel room in France where he was filming his show.
Anthony Bourdain rise to celebrity status started with a magazine article which led to the best selling book, Kitchen Confidential. From there, television and a few novels followed.
In interviews, Bourdain discussed how he went from being a chronically in debt drug abuser, constantly on the verge of being homeless, to scrupulously paying every bill and filing every tax on time.
Bourdain led a life we all could envy. He became a celebrity vagabond, traveling the world and bring the world’s food and culture to our television screens. He ate the simple and exotic foods of cultures familiar and unfamiliar to us. He participated in local ceremonies.
Bourdain advocated for the good in all cultures, especially their foodways. He became an advocate on food waste, producing a show, Wasted, on the costs, both human and dollars, and what people are doing to prevent it.
Bourdain’s popularity came from his everyman approach to topics or issues, important and mundane. He was not above using self-deprecating humor or putting himself in situations that would embarrass most of us. He turned embarrassment into comedy.
Bourdain was a natural born storyteller, in writing and narration. He used plain language, simple declarative sentences to report and tell stories. There was no snobbery in his writing or narration.
As a critic, Bourdain could cut like a well-honed chef knife. He was known for his feuds with many in the food world, though later in life, he realized how petty they were.
Bourdain won several awards for his shows. He had fame, fortune, and the power to go where he wanted, film what he wanted, and tell stories that meant the most to him.
There will be critics on social media damning Bourdain for being foolish, selfish, or taking the cowards way out.
Others may claim a person with his status should have sought help.
We all have demons, darkness, or black dogs. We deal with them differently.
We have our moments of weakness. For some life is just too hard or there is a triggering event that makes life no longer worth living. Many are very good at hiding the dark side. It is part and parcel of the human condition.
Those who would judge seek perfection. They believe people are perfect, society should be perfect, human life is perfect and thus sacred. In nature, and humans are part of nature, there is no perfection. Human perfection is manmade. It is unnatural.
Anthony Bourdain should not be remembered or judged for the way he died. He should not be judged by the way he dealt with his demons, darkness, or black dog.
Bourdain should be remembered for the great body of work he left behind. A body of work that will influence others to appreciate food, culture, travel, and living a good life.
The National Suicide Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. It takes calls 24/7.