The demise of celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain sent shock waves across the globe. A household name, who had managed to win hearts with not just his culinary skills, but also a knee interest in local cultures prevailing around the world and of course, his towering personality and witty charm that quickly struck a chord with his wide-ranging audience.
Bourdain was nothing like a regular celebrity chef, one you couldn’t confine to clichés, for you wouldn’t find him chopping vegetables in a kitchen room, tossing flavors and experimenting with food. Instead, the world was his kitchen. He would travel to various countries of the world and mingle with the local people, understand their cultures and romance their food. Sometimes, he would choose the most unthinkable destinations for his travel shows. It seemed as though nothing intimidated him, neither the corruption-ridden Democratic Republic of Congo defined by stereotypes nor the political anarchy dominated Libya. All he cared for was to discover the extraordinary cuisines of these countries and bring them to our table, quite literally. He was generous with his compliments too on them. In an episode of “No Reservations” for instance, he heaped praises upon the Filipinos and their food culture. In one of the most heartwarming moments, he went as far as to suggest Filipino chef Clauge Tyag to name a dish differently because it didn’t do it justice.
One of the most popular episodes of Bourdain’s show is the one, where he shared the table with Barack Obama in Hanoi, Vietnam. The former President tweeted admiration for the chef after he passed away. He dedicated a short but fitting obituary to him:
“Low plastic stool, cheap but delicious noodles, cold Hanoi beer. This is how I’ll remember Tony. He taught us about food — but more importantly, about its ability to bring us together. To make us a little less afraid of the unknown. We’ll miss him.”
Naturally, just like he has on us, the chef and bestselling author had left an indelible mark on Obama.
Just as Bourdain was experimental and radical about his culinary adventures, he was equally frank while voicing his opinion. Mincing words did not come naturally to him. He was known for being a firebrand, who did not believe in diplomacy. He wouldn’t shy away from discussing topics that would make any public figure uncomfortable. Once, he shared his stand on North Korea quite unabashedly, saying he wouldn’t want to eat in a country where “most of the population are starving.” Not stopping there, he continued to pass satirical remarks on its leader Kim Jon-un.
That’s Anthony Bourdain for you!