Like many of you, many of us at Flight Centre spent the weekend mourning acclaimed chef, author and intrepid traveller, Anthony Bourdain.
While some were fans of his infectious food passion, others were drawn to his one-of-a-kind storytelling, both as authentic as the man himself. After his 1999 essay, Don’t Eat Before Reading This, and his best-selling novels, Kitchen Confidential and Medium Raw, everyone’s favourite rock star chef set out on the road for perhaps his most important work of all.
Bourdain’s television shows, A Cook’s Tour, No Reservations, The Layover, and his award-winning CNN program, Parts Unknown, were all much more than the average chef-on-the-road shows. Knowing that food is the perfect conduit to conversation, Bourdain’s shows always featured plenty of both, and both were vital to the show’s success, but more so, vital to us better understanding the world around us and our place in it.
While the mouth-watering cinematography featured the ingredients, preparation and consumption of some of Bourdain’s favourite meals, the guests, conversations and issues covered were often as complex as a mole sauce. He ate at restaurants as often as he broke bread with families in their homes. He visited everywhere from Pittsburgh and Charleston, both ravaged by the decline of manufacturing jobs and the opioid epidemic, to Libya, Gaza, Lebanon, Israel and Oman.
He humanized the marginalized and the misrepresented. He offered both sides. He reminded us that at the end of the day, no matter where in the world we are, we are all the same. That all we want in life is to be safe with our families, eating a great meal. It is this public service the world will miss the most.
In the words of my colleague, Anthony Bourdain was ‘passionate and poignant, cocky yet cogent, grandly outspoken yet granularly observant.’ He understood the importance of travel and was a noble ambassador. He was also never short on words, evident in his many documented quotes inspiring travel and the pursuit of the perfect meal.
He showed us all that to understand the world, we must do more than just take someone’s word for it – that we must see it for ourselves. And for that, we’ll be forever grateful.