I don’t do heroes. They’re just not my thing. I would be lying though, and boldly, if I said Anthony Bourdain was not one to me. I still struggle immensely with where I am headed in this industry. I’ve always felt scatterbrained about it, and while stand up is definitely my wife, there are many mistresses. I’ve never quite been able to pick just one medium.
Enter Anthony. I first read Kitchen Confidential I-don’t-know-how-many years ago. Since then I’ve given an uncountable number of copies away to friends. He went from chef to author to travel show host, and for the first time I saw someone whose job was to tell stories.
Dude. Your job can just be “storyteller?”
Of course to tell stories, you have to have stories, so I started saying yes to every international adventure I could find. I honestly was half-thinking about him two hours earlier the morning it happened. I was out hiking in Banff, and in the solitude of it all I was daydreaming about the travel show I will inevitably end up producing.
There isn’t an explorer alive who hasn’t asked himself What Would Anthony Bourdain do? at some crossroad or another. He advocated for the seedier places that made the world he showed you feel lived-in. He made you want to see more of it.
It’s why I chuckled that time I found myself inadvertently in the middle of a drug deal in Manchester.
It’s why I rolled with it when we ended up three miles into the pitch black Thai jungle at 2:00 am on half-working scooters.
It’s how I ended up in sketchy bars in Niamey, Addis, Izmir, and the middle of a Nicaraguan lake.
Man, there are some stories.
I’m sorry if this seems more about me than him, but I am “this” me directly because of him. I know who I was when I picked that book up for the first time. I know where I was headed. And believe me, it was nowhere exciting.
I don’t know why he did what he did. It seemed to me like he had cracked the code. I thought he had won.
Or maybe he realized he’d just seen it all, and the only adventure left was this one.
I’m grateful for the influence, Mr. Bourdain.