Chef. Storyteller. Traveler. Foodie. Legend. There are so many words that have been used to describe Anthony Bourdain since his suicide. While all of those adjectives apply, they seem to fall short of painting an accurate portrait of who this behemoth was/is to the masses out here in these streets.
As a participant in the Black travel movement and a member of the global travel community, I can say that Bourdain was an inspiration. I don’t remember exactly when I started following Bourdain, but I have been a fan for as long as I can remember.
[Updated March 2023]
A connoisseur of cool, he has mentored a generation of world travelers. I do not purport to speak for that generation. This is my homage to the man who inspired me to stop reading about the world and go out to see and taste it.
I am the first in my family to travel extensively. As such, there was no template for what world travel should look like until Anthony Bourdain came on the scene. His shows provided quintessential travel guides on what to see, where to eat, and how to respectfully experience a country and its culture.
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations and Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown were the first and only travel television shows that gave viewers an up-close look at the underbelly of travel. Unlike the other travel shows, most of the Bourdain episodes unveiled what happens when things don’t go according to plans, or the weather doesn’t cooperate, or even worse, when war breaks out when you’re traveling. Even when plans were foiled, Bourdain always seemed to find a way to have a great meal or drink with friends at each destination. His self-deprecating wit, profound insight into the everyday life of the common man, and biting critiques of the mainstream were hilarious and infectious.
Although we have never met, Bourdain was my travel mentor. His experiences served as inspiration for trips that I have taken, the restaurants I’ve tried, and articles that I have written. In short, he changed how I travel.
His untimely death as a result of suicide shocked and saddened me. I think the source of my dismay is based on the assumption that Bourdain was living his best life. He was, in fact, living the dream of every wanderlust that I know. Bourdain was getting paid to travel around the globe to eat, connect, explore, and share his findings. He had a sweet gig! A fact, that I’m sure was not lost on him.
In my sorrow and loss, I’m left wondering why a man that seemed to have everything would take his own life? I’ll never know why he decided to end his life, but I do know that we lost a magnificent storyteller, humanitarian and fellow wanderlust, and it hurts!
For years, my wanderlust has been fueled by Bourdain’s infectious spirit and tenacious insistence that the world is much smaller than I thought and that there is more I have in common with my fellow man than what separates us. And for that, I will be forever grateful.
How did Anthony Bourdain inspire you? Leave a comment below.
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