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It is with saddened hearts that we announce the passing of Anthony Bourdain, celebrity chef, author, TV personality, artful storyteller, and father, beloved by many who shared in his love for travel and food. While the world mourns the abrupt loss of an influential figure, NAWRB remembers his life and the lasting impact he had in challenging our biases and encouraging us to embrace the unknown.
A graduate of The Culinary Institute of America, New York-born and New Jersey-grown Bourdain began his career as an executive chef in Manhattan. His name increased in prominence after penning a provocative piece to the New Yorker titled “Don’t Eat Before Reading This” in 1999, a raw perspective from within the culinary industry. A year later, he became an author of the best-selling book Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly.
Bourdain spoke honestly and eloquently, and he did not care whether the truth followed decorum. His talent for storytelling was showcased in his various food and world-travel shows, including A Cook’s Tour, No Reservations and Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.
Bourdain took audiences with him through various countries in the world, unveiling cultures one bite at a time. Bourdain emphasized that meaningful travel involves getting to know and understand a newfound culture, and food was the gateway to discovery. If a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, the way to a country’s heart is through its food— whether it is on the street, on a boat at sea or at the kitchen table.
He was an expert storyteller, sharing the powerful stories of the individuals who gave him a seat at their table. Their stories include heartbreak and triumph, love and fear, regret and hope. Their stories are familiar. Bourdain showed us that although people around the world might live differently than we do, they are human just like us.
He motivated us to see the world as a feast for discovery, available to anyone. One of our Content Writers at NAWRB recently traveled on her own through Vietnam, inspired by Bourdain’s love for the country and his memorable advice: “If you’re twenty-two, physically fit, hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel — as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them — wherever you go.”
Bourdain was a pivotal role model who encouraged empathy across borders, and he will be forever loved and missed. Our condolences go out to his loved ones during this difficult time.