For all intents and purposes, Anthony Bourdain died last month in a hotel room in France. He was sixty-one years of age and was reported to have committed suicide while shooting an episode of his 'Parts Unknown' television series.
I never gave much time to the renegade chef, his name synonymous with a world — the kitchen — I’d never been that interested in. After listening to a podcast on NPR’s Fresh Air last week however I saw the light. It was his passion, his innate drive to suck the marrow out of life that got under my skin.
Bourdain grew up in New York City, a fish out of water who struggled to find his place in the world around him. It was only after taking a dish-washing job during a summer break that things fell into place. A renowned chef that spent more than two decades in professional kitchens, he found a global audience with his best-selling memoir Kitchen Confidential, a stark look at the underbelly of the restaurant world. While the book was a damning account, Bourdain's raison d’être was so much more than culinary gossip. He championed the need to confront our deepest fears, to step out into the unknown and truly experience what life has to offer in all its forms.
As Bourdain tells it: “Do we really want to travel in hermetically sealed popemobiles through the rural provinces of France, Mexico and the Far East, eating only in Hard Rock Cafes and McDonalds? 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.”
Tuck into his no-nonsense confessional “Don’t Eat Before Reading This”. Your stomach will thank you later.