In Honor of Anthony Bourdain
Anthony Bourdain, celebrity chef, author and travel documentarian, passed away earlier this month (June 2018). He was a tremendous presence on the global stage, well known for his savory contributions to the culinary world. But Bourdain was much more than a television personality. He touched many lives throughout the world, especially in Asia.
An Unofficial US Ambassador to Asia
After traveling around the globe, hosting his gourmet cooking shows in some of the most exotic locations, Bourdain found his place in Asia. He was drawn to the variety and depth of the continent's culinary heritage, fascinated by the many cultures, and respectful of the people. On the world stage, which he occupied so gracefully, Bourdain could often be found hosting world leaders on a tour of Asian cuisine, such as sugary spaghetti and Hainanese chicken rice. But he also dug deeper into Asian culture and food, seeking to bring a truly authentic experience of Asian dining to the masses.
Introducing Americans to Asia’s Food and Culture
This search for authenticity shaped Bourdain's work and was very much evident in his plans for the Bourdain Market. The market was supposed to open in 2019 at Pier 57 NYC but was canceled due to real estate issues. His goal was to create an Asian night market where Asian chef would fly in for short periods and bring their cuisine to the US. He wanted to give New Yorkers the opportunity to taste real un-Americanized Asian street food and experience the lively Hong Kong and Singapore vibe without leaving their home town.
An Advocate for Filipino Cuisine
One of his favorite countries on the Asian continent was the Philippines. He moved way beyond the typical tourist stops of Manila, tasted various local delicacies and visiting less toured areas. He was committed to bringing Filipino cuisines, such as sisig, lechon, and halo-halo to mainstream American Asian food lovers. More than the food, though, Bourdain sought to elevate America’s understanding and appreciation the Filipino people. He spoke often about their integrity, hard work and their vast contribution to American society.
Finding Bliss in Vietnam
In a 2014 article, Bourdain wrote that Vietnam profoundly changed his life. He traveled there more than 15 times, filming many cooking shows throughout the country. Everything about Vietnam, from its food to its geography, was new to him and even greater than his dreams. Bourdain appreciated the simple places in Vietnam, he was compelled by its uniqueness, and never fell out of love.
He even took President Obama to a plain, no-frills, tiny eatery in Hanoi, for a meal that cost only $6.
Bourdain had hoped to spend more time in Vietnam, telling his followers that he intended to move to a small fishing village near Hoi An. His goal was to have no goal, to let each day bring what it brings. It would have been his ultimate total immersion in the place he loved the most. His love for the Asian continent and ability to bring that passion to Americans will be sorely missed.