Culture

Rest in peace, Chef.

Anthony Bourdain Was Everybody’s Favourite Uncle

A lot of digital ink is being spilled today about Anthony Bourdain, who was found dead earlier this morning in an apparent suicide. He was 61. Some of what’s being written is worthy of your time and Bourdain’s great legacy1; some of it is incredibly not. I’m here, ostensibly, to add my voice to the chorus. But I’m having trouble finding the words, because I’m legitimately heartbroken right now.

Maybe that says enough about what Bourdain meant, to me and millions of others: I never met the guy, but losing him still stings like losing a beloved uncle—the one always gallivanting off on another faraway adventure, who brought home the best presents and encouraged your most harebrained impulses. He was both an inspiration—through his travels and writings and ambitions—and a constant reassurance. Bourdain, in his words, should have “died in [his] 20s” and “became successful in [his] 40s.” To me, that meant I still had time.

A few minutes ago, as I struggled to organize my thoughts to write this story, I went back and rewatched the last few minutes of the No Reservations series finale. Then I cried at my desk. As the credits roll, Bourdain, in his wry and mollifying baritone, says exactly what I’m trying to right now—only, as ever, he does it smarter, crisper, with far more grace. I’ll leave you with those words now:

“It’s been a wild ride. A lot of miles. A road sometimes smooth, sometimes hard and ugly. And I guess I could tell you that if you look hard enough, that just next door is just as interesting as the other side of the world. But that’s not exactly true. If I do have any advice for anybody, any final thought—if I’m an advocate for anything—it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. The extent to which you can walk in somebody else’s shoes—or at least eat their food—is a plus for everybody. Open your mind. Get up off your couch. Move.”

References   [ + ]

1. So worthy, in fact, that I’m willing to cross men’s magazine lines to link to it.