Honoring the Inspiring Life and Legacy of Travel-Loving Chef Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain

On June 8, 2018, the world was shocked and saddened to learn that inspiring chef, acclaimed author, and award-winning storyteller Anthony Bourdain had tragically taken his own life at 61 years old. Celebrated for his open-minded approach to cuisines, cultures, and everything in between, Bourdain was beloved by people from all walks of life.

Though born in New York City, Bourdain was raised in New Jersey—”and proud of it.” While he has fond memories of what he ate while growing up in the Garden State, it was his first encounter with an oyster during a childhood trip to France that sparked his famous love affair with food.

“I took it in my hand, tilted the shell back into my mouth as instructed by the by now beaming Monsieur Saint-Jour, and with one bite and a slurp, wolfed it down. It tasted of seawater . . . of brine and flesh . . . and somehow . . . of the future. Everything was different now. Everything.”

After this life-changing dish, Bourdain worked as “a dishwasher, a prep drone, a line cook, and a sous-chef” as a teenager and a university student. Though he would abandon conventional college courses, he would continue on his culinary path, eventually enrolling in The Culinary Institute of America, where he graduated in 1978.

From then on, he ran renowned restaurants across New York City—a line of work he detailed in Don't Eat Before Reading This, an article he wrote for the  of The New Yorker. Celebrated by editors and readers alike, this piece launched his career as a storyteller, culminating in book deals (Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly remains his most well-known work of non-fiction) and television shows, including his popular Parts Unknown.

In addition to these tangible accomplishments, Bourdain will be remembered for his power to immerse himself wherever he landed—and his uncanny ability to inspire us to do the same. “Do we really want to travel in hermetically sealed popemobiles through the rural provinces of France, Mexico, and the Far East, eating only in Hard Rock Cafes and McDonalds?” he asked. “Or do we want to travel without fear, tearing into the local stew, the humble taqueria’s mystery meat, the sincerely offered gift of a lightly grilled fish head? I know what I want. I want it all. I want to try everything once.”

Over the weekend, fans, friends, fellow celebrities, and even the former president took to the Internet to pay tribute to Anthony Bourdain.


Some people shared their favorite quotes by the beloved chef, who was known for his open mind and inspiring approach to travel, cooking, and life.

Here are more words of wisdom from the one and only Anthony Bourdain:

On Traveling:

“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.”

“As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life —and travel — leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks — on your body or on your heart — are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.”

“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.” 

On Work:

“I have come to realize with certainty, however, that I have the best job in the world. And that I work with some of the finest people on it. To be able to go wherever I want, when I want, do what I want, and then tell stories about what I’ve experienced is an incredible privilege. Who gets to do what I do? And when you’re that damned lucky, how do you stop? How do you ever get off the ride? And why would you?”

“Without new ideas success can become stale.”

“For me, the cooking life has been a long love affair, with moments both sublime and ridiculous. But like a love affair, looking back you remember the happy times best —the things that drew you in, attracted you in the first place, the things that kept you coming back for more.”

On Simply Living Life:

“Without experimentation, a willingness to ask questions and try new things, we shall surely become static, repetitive, and moribund.”

“Your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.”

“It's been an adventure. We took some casualties over the years. Things got broken. Things got lost. But I wouldn't have missed it for the world.”

How to get help: In the US, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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Kelly Richman-Abdou

Kelly Richman-Abdou is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met. An art historian living in Paris, Kelly was born and raised in San Francisco and holds a BA in Art History from the University of San Francisco and an MA in Art and Museum Studies from Georgetown University. When she’s not writing, you can find Kelly wandering around Paris, whether she’s leading a tour (as a guide, she has been interviewed by BBC World News America and France 24) or simply taking a stroll with her husband and two tiny daughters.
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