Last month Anthony Bourdain decided to leave us forever, and there was a response of affection and respect from around the entire globe. Because Anthony Bourdain was a man who truly touched lives around the world, above all because he took the time to see a people for who they are, in all aspects. He may have been running a television program about food, but it was about people. He sat to meals in five star restaurants, and in the homes of all of the people. On chairs, cushions, or direct dirt, he shared food with locals. He understood that knowing a culture was in knowing the people, and to know the people you must break bread with them.
I admire him deeply for his clear empathy, his unabashed language, and his efforts always to improve himself. He acknowledged the danger of toxic masculinity, and sought to do better in his own way. He would admit to mistakes, recognize behavior that would be frowned upon, but also saw, perhaps clearer than most of us, that what is acceptable behavior is cultural and full of gray areas. He was human.
His humanity was in seeing the humanity in others. I will never forget that he was one of few, and perhaps the first, to acknowledge the huge role of Latin Americans in US kitchens. In a country that often denies the importance of latinos, Bourdain saw them, and used his platform to sing their praises. Perhaps because of him, more people might understand the lifestyle of people like my Father, who has worked in a kitchen for the last 30 years to survive, and didn’t take time off even when going through cancer treatment.
I am so deeply saddened that he felt he must take his own life. I am reminded of how we must be present and aware with our peers. Listen, and if someone you know seems like the need help, let them know. Because like Bourdain showed us, we are all in this together.