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Why Anthony Bourdain Meant So Much to So Many

The chef, author, and TV host died on Friday, and the world cried out in mourning

CNN/Parts Unknown

This post originally appeared on June 9, 2018, in Amanda Kludt’s newsletter “From the Editor,” a roundup of the most vital news and stories in the food world each week. Read the archives and subscribe now.

I don’t think I’m going to be able to add much to what has already been said, written, tweeted, and otherwise shared during this sad time for the food community. Anthony Bourdain died on Friday, and the world cried out in mourning. Those who truly know him mourn him for infinite reasons we will never and should never understand, reasons big and small and private. But for those casual friends or acquaintances or fans, we mourn him because:

He was a singular and powerful storyteller, original in his style, catholic in his curiosities. He created good things as a writer and host, and he recognized good things as an editor, producer, and publisher.

He was a brilliant commentator. He had a mind that could quickly and easily cut through the bullshit, a wit that could be at once erudite and risque.

He was honest and fearless, unafraid to take on powerful people (Trump, Weinstein, Batali) or institutions (the Beard Foundation, media). He was a voice for the powerless, the defender of Latinx people, victims of sexual assault, immigrants, Muslims, the poor, and subjugated and misunderstood populations around the world.

He examined himself and his beliefs. He apologized for the culture he might have created, the toxic masculinity he came to represent for many. And he aimed to break bread with those he didn’t understand, with those he thought he abhorred in and outside his country.

He infused his work with a sense of joy. While he played the cynic, the grump, the jaded New Yorker, any reader of his work or observer of his shows could see he reveled in the food, the conversations, the discovery. He was a champion of cities and food and chefs and people.

He opened the world for and to so many of us.

The other common reaction voiced last Friday was the notion that we do not know who amongst us is suffering silently. We do not know, as Andrew Zimmern said on a call, “which of your friends is suffering from not having their outsides meet their insides.” And it’s impossible to know. But we should ask those closest to us.

If you or anyone you know is considering suicide or self-harm or is anxious, depressed, upset, or needs to talk, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text the Crisis Text Line at 741-741. For international resources, here is a good place to begin.

Opening of the week: Arlo Grey

Arlo Grey
Courtney Pierce/EATX

Who’s behind it?: Chef Kristen Kish.

What is it?: A 100-seat hotel restaurant. The menu spans genres and includes a Texas ribeye, a burger, crispy chicken over rice porridge, and a “buffalo short rib,” as well as pasta dishes and burrata. Kish says if she were to shrink the dishes down and serve them in progression, it would be her ideal tasting menu.

Where is it?: The new Line Hotel in Austin.

When did it open?: Monday, June 4.

Why should I care?: Kish is a talent. The Line Hotel generally prioritizes the quality and cool factor of its restaurants. Also, read the description of this burger: “made of Texas beef, topped with aerated pommes aligot, lacto-fermented pickles, Kewpie mayo, caramelized onions, and mustard greens, on a challah bun.”

On Eater

On the Upsell

Last week we aired my interview with Dave Chang and Recode’s Peter Kafka at the Code Conference. We discuss how he thinks about expansion, the professionalization of the restaurant industry and how it relates to #MeToo, his two failed attempts to conquer the food delivery space, and the lessons he learned from the closure of Lucky Peach that he’ll apply to his new venture, Majordomo Media. Read the takeaways on the site, or listen to the episode here or wherever you get your podcasts.

Off Eater

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