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Between the Lines: A look into the life of a global ambassador

A tribute to Anthony Bourdain

This tribute was originally written for a journalism class in 2016 where we had to select a celebrity who impacts us and write an article highlighting their life and career accomplishments. I chose Anthony Bourdain, as he inspired me to want to travel, see the world up close and learn about a culture through the people and the cuisine.

Anthony Bourdain did not just explore the food and culture in “unknown parts” of the world — he added his own flavors and traditions to society.

As a world-class chef with French influences, Bourdain touched the hearts (and taste buds) of thousands, running various five-star kitchens in New York City and traveling the world cooking for others.  Bourdain wrote and produced several television shows that explored international cuisine and culture, giving viewers around the world a chance to experience a country on the other side of the globe. As an author and a journalist, Bourdain further spread his stories as a chef and a traveler to anyone who had a taste for adventure. 

Bourdain, who was found dead Friday in his French hotel room at 61 years old from suicide, had the career everybody wanted: He traveled, ate delicious food and dined with people from different cultures. That is not to say Bourdain did not know how privileged he was — he just never let it get to his head. One lesson he learned from his father was to never be a snob.

Born in New York and raised in New Jersey, Bourdain was surrounded by different restaurants. His love for food began in his childhood when he tried an oyster for the first time. Bourdain started his culinary career at the bottom as a dishwasher in Massachusetts. From there, he quickly rose. After he graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, he spent 28 years working at various restaurants in New York City, where he truly became a culinary artist.

“Food is everything we are,” Bourdain once said. “It's an extension of nationalist feeling, ethnic feeling, your personal history, your province, your region, your tribe, your grandma. It's inseparable from those from the get-go.”

Bourdain untied his apron at Brasserie Les Halles in Manhattan, where he had been executive chef since 1998, and picked up his suitcase instead. His first television show, “A Cook’s Tour,” led him to “No Reservations,” which ran for seven years and was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2007. “The Layover,” a travel show, aired in 2011 for three years until Bourdain left the Travel Channel and switched to CNN to host his final masterpiece “Parts Unknown,” which would go on to receive several awards.

“People open up to him and, in doing so, often reveal more about their hometowns or homelands than a traditional reporter could hope to document,” CNN wrote when Bourdain’s show “Parts Unknown” won the Peabody Awards in 2013.

If becoming a chef and a globetrotter were not rewarding enough, Bourdain authored a few books, further propelled his name. His novels “Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly” and “Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook” became bestsellers and shaped how the world saw his culinary career. In addition to writing novels, Bourdain also wrote columns for The New York Times.

“Stunned and saddened by the loss of Anthony Bourdain,” Chef Gordon Ramsay tweeted Friday morning. “He brought the world into our homes and inspired so many to explore cultures and cities through their food.”

Through his television series, Bourdain not only explored other parts of the world, but he acted as a representative of Americans. He traveled to about 100 countries ranging from Madagascar to Iran. He trudged through rainforests and political turmoil and tasted shark and kebabs. Bourdain learned and changed from all of the places he visited. He became a man comprised of many cultures, cuisine and history.

“As you move through this life and this world, you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small,” Bourdain said. “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.”

After mastering cuisine and traveling the world, Bourdain became a jack-of-all-trades when he won first place at a jiu-jitsu championship in April 2016. Still, he tried to not let these talents interfere with his personality.

Bourdain was honest. He told people how he felt, such as when he blamed Adam Richman, the star of television show “Man v. Food,” for giving Americans a wasteful and slothful reputation abroad. Bourdain was also not afraid to show his humorous side and ask why Guy Fieri still donned spiky hair and a flame shirt at 48 years old.

Bourdain will not only be remembered as the “culinary bad boy,” which The Huffington Post called him in 2012, but as the honest New Yorker who learned about the world up close.

“Maybe that’s enlightenment enough: to know that there is no final resting place of the mind, no moment of smug clarity,” Bourdain said in “No Reservations.”  “Perhaps wisdom is realizing how small I am and unwise, and how far I have yet to go.”

And Bourdain did go far.

Jessica Hill is a senior studying journalism, global studies and Spanish. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post.Want to get in touch with Jessica? Email her at or tweet her @jess_hillyeah.

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