Captivating. Witty. Brilliant. Unfiltered. Just a few words that describe none other than Anthony Bourdain. It's no wonder that with his recent passing came a wave of shock, grief, and nostalgic memories of the culinary world's "bad boy". From former President Barack Obama, lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda, to chef José Andrés, people from all over the world poured out their emotions. As I re-watch episodes of No Reservations and Parts Unknown, I continue to be in awe of Bourdain's captivating way of opening his viewers' hearts to far away places. One may ask how a single person was capable of touching the lives of so many; who was Anthony Bourdain? 

A Symphony

In a tweet soon after Bourdain's death, chef and friend Andrew Zimmerman perfectly summed up Bourdain as "a symphony". He was an intricate blend of his past experiences and passions for exotic cuisine, punk rock, illustration, and writing. His personality beamed with charisma, humor, creativity, and kindness. Bourdain never forgot his beginnings as a drug-addicted line cook and spoke openly about his past use of cocaine, heroine, and LSD. His dark past formed a path to a life of a celebrity chef, brilliant journalist, illustrator, and social activist. Apart from cooking, he spent time writing mystery novels, being a blue belt in Brazilian jujitsu, being a strong advocate for the #MeToo movement, and watching cartoons with his daughter

A Rebel Storyteller

Bourdain first gained recognition after publishing "Don't Eat Before Reading This", a New Yorker piece where he warned readers about the sometimes unappetizing reality of restaurant kitchens. In a world where TV shows often sugar-coat their subjects, Bourdain was eager to go the unconventional route and often threw in comments about death, sex, drugs, and other taboo themes. Additionally, Bourdain wove hard-to-swallow political and cultural context into his narratives. He brought to light the truth behind topics such as Putin's imperialistic rule, the rampant corruption and drug problem in Mexico, and the roots of heroin addiction in suburban Massachusetts. During his travels, Bourdain continuously learned alongside us as he disproved negative, Western perceptions of other countries and their people. 

A Friend and Endless Source of Laughter

Bourdain shared the unique values behind food in every country he visited. Every culture has its own interpretation of the social, religious, and historical importance surrounding food. Through respect, charm, vulnerability, and friendship Bourdain was able to gain the trust of those he interviewed and open us to a world of cultures and foods. He embraced all cultures and formed various friendships throughout his travels, often revisiting the same people from past episodes. By cracking jokes (typically self-deprecating) or teasing friends like Éric Ripert, Bourdain could bring out smiles from anyone. 

Whether you're dining at a 3 Michelin Star restaurant or slurping noodles on a small stool by the curb, Bourdain taught us that food is food and what matters is the company and experiences that come with it. He may no longer be with us but his voice will continue to echo in our travels and adventures. 

“As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life —and travel — leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks — on your body or on your heart — are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.”- Anthony Bourdain, (1956-2018).

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