The world mourned once again as a great man killed himself last Friday, June 8, 2018. Anthony Bourdain was found unresponsive in his hotel room by his close friend French Chef Eric Ripert. He was in France to film an upcoming episode of “Parts Unknown, Paris”, a television series he was famous for.
This had left many people who felt really connected and influenced by him devastated. With his many contributions to the industry and our lives, his untimely death left a scarring mark in each one of us.
But with this sadness comes acceptance afterward. What’s left is to honor his contributions and recount, what are the life lessons we can learn from this great man?
Be Fearless: Life is An Adventure
“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 McDonald’s? Or do we want to eat 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.” – Kitchen Confidential, August 2000
A quote from his best-selling book, the Kitchen Confidential. It does not really only apply to find the best epicurean wonders. It challenges us to go beyond the norm. Seek out things you want. You’ll never know, you might actually get it in places you least expect it.
Write Like No One is Reading
“The absolute certainty that nobody was going to care about, read, or buy ‘Kitchen Confidential’ was what allowed me to write it. I didn’t have to think about what people expected. I didn’t care. As a result, I was able to write the book, quickly and without tormenting myself. That was in many ways a very liberating place to be. I’ve kind of tried to stick with that business model since.”
Every person has opinions. Whether you do something good or bad, some people will find fault in what you do. This mentality cripples a lot of aspiring talents to even start pursuing what they want. Or for those on their way, it stops them from experimenting and putting their “personality” in their craft. Scared of what people might say when you deviate from the norm.
This quote reminds you that why should you care? If you have a brilliant idea, try it as if your naysayers are not there. You can always adjust for some constructive criticism. But don’t get stumped just because people are against you.
Going Beyond Food: Respect for Other People
“I often talk about the ‘Grandma rule’ for travelers. You may not like Grandma’s Thanksgiving turkey. It may be overcooked and dry—and her stuffing salty and studded with rubbery pellets of giblet you find unpalatable in the extreme. You may not even like turkey at all. But it’s Grandma’s turkey. And you are at Grandma’s house. So shut the fuck up and eat it. And afterward, say, ‘Thank you, Grandma, why, yes, yes, of course, I’d love seconds.’ – Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook, 2010
We all have our differences. But the love for good food is a common interest no one can deny. Knowing Anthony, he is very straightforward. But when you are enjoying food with someone, even if the conversation sways to opinions you are not in total agreement with, “You shut the fuck up and eat it. And afterward, say “Thank You, Grandma”.
It teaches us mutual respect. The shared meal is an interest for both. Even if you disagree on everything, you can put aside your differences when you appreciate the food in front of you. At least, this is one thing you have in common.
These are only some of the wisdom he shared with the world. I’m pretty sure you have many other learnings from this great man. Feel free to share them with us.
But for now, we give our final salute. Thank you, Anthony Bourdain. May you rest in peace.