Lessons We can Learn from Anthony Bourdain

The 2nd consecutive celebrity suicide following Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain’s apparent suicide was confirmed by Strasbourg police spokesperson. But Bourdain’s life and legacy should never be defined by this one pivotal act. Here’s what we do know, Bourdain triumphed over adversity. In a televised interview with CNN, Bourdain once shared that he went from being broke to stardom overnight, where he was paid to travel and do what he loved. Thus, one can opine that financial and career success does not necessarily equate to happiness.

“We were high all the time, sneaking off to the walk-in refrigerator at every opportunity to ‘conceptualize.’ Hardly a decision was made without drugs. Cannabis, methaqualone, cocaine, LSD, psilocybin mushrooms soaked in honey and used to sweeten tea, secobarbital, tuinal, amphetamine, codeine and, increasingly, heroin, which we’d send a Spanish-speaking busboy over to Alphabet City to get.” – Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential

A young Bourdain as he apprenticed in seafood restaurants in Providence before he decided to enrol in the CIA, the Culinary Institute of America, that is.

A young Bourdain as he apprenticed in seafood restaurants in Providence before he decided to enrol in the CIA, the Culinary Institute of America, that is.

An unrepentant drinker and smoker, (until he quit in 2007 for his daughter), so infamous was Bourdain’s habit that he was once served a 20-course tasting menu by renowned chef Thomas Keller which included a mid-meal “coffee and cigarette”: a coffee custard infused with tobacco, together with a foie gras mousse. That he eventually ditched the 50 year habit (along with drugs harder than tobacco) is again, testament that one can possess the mental fortitude and willpower and yet succumb to a quiet, unseen enemy. Yet, across his 40 year career spanning Supper Club, One Fifth Avenue, Sullivan’s and Brasserie Les Halles; it was his book, Kitchen Confidential that catapulted him to celebrity stardom. There are many lessons we can learn from Anthony Bourdain and thus perpetuate a legacy of his life, rather than his untimely passing.

Bourdain samples a home cooked meal offered by the Hausa people in Lagos, Nigeria

Skills can be taught. Character you either have or you don’t have.
Without new ideas success can become stale.
You can learn a lot about someone when you share a meal together.
Under “reasons for leaving a job”, never give the real reason, unless it’s money or ambition.
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.
If I am an advocate for anything, it is to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. Walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food. It’s a plus for everybody.
Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”
I don’t have to agree with you to live you or to respect you.
Don’t lie about it. You’ve made a mistake. Admit it. Move on. Just don’t make it again. Ever.
I’m a big believer in winging it. 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. Letting the happy accident happen is what a lot of vacation itineraries miss, I think, and I’m always trying to push people to allow those things to happen rather than stick to some rigid itinerary.
Open your mind. Get off the couch. Move.
Luck is not a business model.
It’s very rarely a good career move to have a conscience.
Good food is very often the simple the simple food.
If you look someone in the eye and call them a ‘fat, worthless, syphilitic puddle of badger crap’, it doesn’t mean you don’t like them. It can be – and often is – a term of endearment.
The way you make an omelet reveals your character.
Context and memory play powerful roles in all the truly great meals in one’s life
Without new ideas, success can become stale.
Cooking skills are a virtue, that the ability to feed yourself and others with proficiency should be taught to every young man and women as a fundamental skill, as vital as growing up, learning to wipe one’s own ass, cross the street by oneself or to be trusted with money.
There is no final resting place of the mind; no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom is realising how small I am, and unwise, and how fair I have yet to go.

Anthony Bourdain introduces US President Barack Obama to “Bun Cha” noodles during a “Parts Unknown” episode in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Bourdain tries the local cuisine while on location in Vietnam

Ariane was Bourdain’s only child.

“Low plastic stool, cheap but delicious noodles, cold Hanoi beer.” This is how I’ll remember Tony. He taught us about food — but more importantly, about its ability to bring us together. To make us a little less afraid of the unknown. We’ll miss him. pic.twitter.com/orEXIaEMZM

— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) June 8, 2018

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