"Your body is not a temple, it's an amusement park. Enjoy the ride."

Whether it be through the detailed chronicling of his crazy life — from the portrayal of his extensive and frequent travels in Parts Unknown, to the brutal nature of his ascent as a chef in Kitchen Confidential — Anthony Bourdain embodied the essence of what food means to people. His cynical perspective and risk-filled approach to life paired with his uncanny ability to personally connect with any and all people is why Anthony Bourdain is my biggest inspiration in the food world.

"I’m a big believer that you’re never going to find perfect city travel experience or the perfect meal without a constant willingness to experience a bad one."

Being that I have not had the opportunity to travel anywhere outside of the states, my worldliness is purely secondhand, stemming predominantly from Anthony's adventures. His openness to trying whatever food comes his way — even if it consisted of raw brains, obscure organs, or some combination of the two — allowed him to truly embrace cultures. The ubiquity of chain restaurants in our modern world taints the palettes of travelers, who often opt in favor of convenience and familiarity over traditions and native cuisines. But I'm with Anthony and firmly believe you can't knock the food, or know the culture, 'til you try it.

"Food may not be the answer to world peace, but it’s a start."

In addition to his philanthropic work and appearance in the recent documentary Wasted! The Story of Food Waste, Anthony consistently expressed his thoughts and feelings surrounding the unique power of food. Food is a basic need of all humans — and Anthony believed that this common link has the power ease many of today's social, political, and environmental problems. By placing a larger emphasis on the sources of and access to foods that we consume, everyone may have the ability to eat healthfully, to foster more interpersonal relationships with people from other cultures, and to actively participate in creating a more sustainable planet.

“You learn a lot about someone when you share a meal together.”

Though I've had my fair share of solo meals characterized by headphone-wearing and rushed eating, I agree with Anthony in that meals exist to be shared. Food, no matter how delicious, often cannot stand fully alone — it necessitates companionship and beckons the sixth sense of shared taste. I prefer to catch up with friends over meals because my love for both of them has a way of being amplified when experienced together. Anthony's search for constant company and food recommendations from strangers during his travels inspires me to do the same. 

"The perfect meal, or the best meals, occur in a context that frequently has very little to do with the food itself."

Context is everything, and food is no exception. I can tell that Anthony took atmosphere into careful consideration when scheduling his many meals spent abroad. Whether it be celebrating the rice festival for days in Borneo, or enjoying the diner smells of the Waffle House after a long night out in South Carolina, Anthony and his companions always relish in the time and place of the event. My favorite Thanksgiving memories stick with me because of their situations — my grandmother's epic spinach casserole and my grandfather's trademark salad cannot be separated from the sights, smells, and sounds of the day in its entirety.

"Basic cooking skills are a virtue."

And something that everyone should have. I wholeheartedly agree with Anthony that there is something uniquely empowering about preparing food for yourself, for your family, for your friends, and for anyone else who happens to stumble upon your table. Cooking initiates the direct connection between us and food — a relationship becoming increasingly difficult to establish, thanks to the accessibility of heavily processed foods and our reliance on others to prepare our meals. Though we can't all be pristine chefs like Anthony, we should all have some competence the kitchen.

"As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small."

Anthony's extensive exploration throughout, perspectives on, and knowledge of cuisines transcend the food itself into all avenues of life. His willingness to learn every day, to embrace cultures as they are, and to talk to anyone that would listen will be missed by people all over the world. Though my connection to Anthony was limited — merely a product of my Netflix account and the library — I feel as though I knew him personally. And this is why Anthony Bourdain is, and always will be, my biggest inspiration in the food world.