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Goodbye Tony

June 8, 2018

Woke up this morning to find that Tony Bourdain is dead. He took his own life somewhere in France. Eric Ripert was the poor soul who discovered the body.

Death is complicated.

I’m not going to speculate why this happened, or succumb to the temptation to plot this as another data point on the list of high profile suicides. My own life has been touched directly by suicide at multiple points in the past. There is just too much that is impossible to know.

Depression, mental illness, and psychotherapy are subjects which which I am very familiar. As are the stages of grief and mourning. This morning people are sad. People are angry. People are in disbelief. And the world has lost a passionate soul.

That said, there is one thing that we need to remember, and one thing to do moving forward.

It was probably close to twenty years ago that I read Kitchen Confidential. And while it may not have been directly the thing that inspired me to write about food, it was certainly an influence.

One of my big takeaways from the book was that it was a small miracle Tony lived to write it. All of the stories that we got from this man, and the life he was able to lead, were a gift.

Often, I will tell people that I have the best job. But his was a pretty close runner up. Not just because he got to travel and eat all over the world on someone else’s dime. But because he was able to spread the joy of international cuisines to audiences hungry for culinary adventure.

The one thing I’m willing to speculate upon is that I don’t think Tony would want us to be sad.

Being Jewish, I’m able to draw upon “three thousand years of beautiful tradition from Moses to Sandy Koufax.” When somebody dies we say, “May their memory be a blessing.”

In this modern age, we don’t even have to rely on memory. With all the videos that Tony made, even in death he’ll continue to share his enthusiasm for great food with people around the world.

On Facebook this morning, a friend of mine shared the below video of Tony eating his favorite Sichuan dish with Eric Ripert. Locally, you can get great examples of this at Fairy Sichuan, Shu’s, and Northeast Chinese II.

My heart goes out to Tony’s family, who will feel this loss much more profoundly than those who appreciated this man for his work and public persona. Which is not to dismiss the feelings of those in the food community who will miss his unique voice and influence.

I’m thankful that we got to have this guy in our living rooms and on our laptops.

Let’s celebrate his life. Let’s take his spark and move it forward. Let’s explore new foods, and break out of our comfort zones. Let’s ask the questions Tony asked. What makes you happy? What do you eat? What do you like to cook?

You don’t have to be a chef.
You don’t have to be on TV.

But you do need to find a way to share what you find.

In the meantime, if you have a favorite video from Tony’s past you want to share, feel free to post a link below.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. llcwine permalink
    June 8, 2018 10:54 am

    Well said Daniel, will say Kaddish tonight and remember him and his family in my prayers.

  2. Josh K permalink
    June 8, 2018 11:43 am

    awful – terrible news

  3. Daniel permalink
    June 8, 2018 11:53 am

    He taught me how to move gracefully and gratefully throughout the world.

  4. Ryan H permalink
    June 8, 2018 11:54 am

    This one hit me. Anthony Bourdain is a real inspiration to me. The sense of adventure from his shows is infectious. I always have it in the back my mind when traveling now, “what would Anthony Bourdain do? He wouldn’t be afraid to try the street food.” Most of our recent big trips have literally been prompted by stuff we’ve seen on episodes of No Reservations or Parts Unknown. “That food looks good. Let’s go to Peru!” I don’t have any favorite clips, but the entire Copenhagen episode is a masterpiece.

  5. June 8, 2018 12:43 pm

    I have always wanted to be reincarnated as Anthony Bourdain. He seemed to have the perfect life. So sad he felt such pain underneath the surface.

  6. Brian S permalink
    June 8, 2018 3:20 pm

    Ya this sucks. His shows were one of the few arguments in favor of keeping cable. My wmom ah list of places to visit usually got updated after each new episode. The Iran one for me is a personal favorite.

  7. stanfordsteph permalink
    June 8, 2018 7:22 pm

    He had such a pointed perspective on the world. I often looked up places he had been in cities I was visiting to try out unique and different food. He opened our eyes to the ways we are different and yet the same through the food we eat.

    video/1

  8. Lauren Darman permalink
    June 11, 2018 5:17 pm

    No Billy Joel music in the kitchen – ever.
    Finding the Billy Rose Theatre abandoned and declining.
    This was Anthony to me, loveable, curious, tyrant.

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