Influences: Anthony Bourdain
Photo Credit: Christopher Sturman
“I understand there’s a guy inside me who wants to lay in bed, smoke weed all day, and watch cartoons and old movies. My whole life is a series of stratagems to avoid, and outwit, that guy.”
I wanted to start a series of posts on the people that have influenced me throughout my life so far — of course I have to begin with Anthony Bourdain.
A little over a decade ago, I used to exist solely within a few square miles of Culver City, CA. I had my favorite coffee place, my favorite lunch spots, favorite bars, and my home and office all within this small area. I didn’t like to leave because all of, what I thought was, the best stuff surrounded me in my little bubble.
I started watching No Reservations religiously and the world opened up to me - so many places and experiences are out there and Tony showed them all to us via my favorite common denominator - food.
Bourdain isn’t the reason my passport went from a pristine booklet of untouched pages into a tattered mess of fading stamps, but he did get me excited about each one of those journeys.
Whenever I go to a new city or country, as an homage to him, I try to find at least one place where I could picture Tony sitting down for a meal - something outside of the tourist traps; something for locals, and perhaps a bit intimidating.
If I’m in a city that he’s documented, in addition to the above, I try to go to at least once place he’s been to just to feel his spirit in the walls and also, where applicable, at the bar.
Le Royal, Paris, 2005
Le Royal, Paris, 2018
Photo Credit: Martin Schoeller
“I’ve long believed that good food, good eating, is all about risk. Whether we’re talking about unpasteurized Stilton, raw oysters or working for organized crime ‘associates,’ food, for me, has always been an adventure”
Superfan or not, I didn’t realize until recently that the audiobook of Kitchen Confidential is narrated by Tony himself. In the weird and challenging times we find ourselves, hearing his voice takes me back to a time of both optimism and possibility - a place I hope we can all go back to soon.
“To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living.”
Bourdain had such reverence for those that taught him, showed him the light, and gave him a second chance; but even more so for those in his life that worked hard, never called in sick, and most importantly, always did what they said they would do.
This book helped him escape the kitchen, not that he was trapped, but rather, because he had so much more to share with the world. Since his death, I’ve often wondered which environment was more brutal – toiling in the kitchen, or the never-ending travel coupled with a loss of anonymity.
I miss this guy a lot; it’s not often a day goes by that I don’t think about him.
I find myself trying to theorize what his takes on the present-day world would be – in particular, with regard to the some of the most damaged industries, travel and food.
I don’t know what happened to him towards the end and I wish so much that he could have been helped. He should not have had to carry whatever pain he was feeling alone, especially with how much he was loved; but we’ll never know what was going through his mind at the time.
I know for sure though, I will carry his inspiration with me always, and my son will know his name and the lessons he taught.
Most importantly, how much we could solve in this world with something so simple as a meal together - to understand history, find common ground, and love.