Volumes have been written by and about Anthony Bourdain, especially since his death in June 2018. Anyone who has an interest in cooking, food, or travel is familiar with him. We all envied his dream job; eating and drinking his way around the globe. Along the way he introduced us to cultures and foods that many people will never get to experience. By doing so in a curious and considerate way, he tried to expand people’s hearts and minds to the details of food, history, culture, and how they’re interwoven. He celebrated the commonality of a shared meal and that resonated with millions around the world. CNN states that their obituary and tribute to him was the number one read digital story of 2018. Bourdain could be passionate, profane, irreverent and tender all in the context of one interview or TV show. His unapologetic approach to life included drinking, smoking and early drug use, which was documented in his books. He loved to skewer what he called “Food Porn” and mock the preciousness of some foodies. After writing two crime novels, he rose to fame as an author, with Kitchen Confidential rocketing onto bestseller lists. What many don’t know is that he wrote thirteen books that included novels, short stories, history, and graphic novels.
World famous chefs Eric Ripert and Jose Andres, friends of Bourdain, have proposed his birthday, June 25, be celebrated as Bourdain Day. Many restaurants around the world are planning food or drink specials in commemoration. We reached out to Safety Harbor chefs to get their thoughts on Bourdain and his contributions.
Acqua Alta: Paolo Polo
Polo admired Bourdain for his anti-establishment views and for always championing local cuisine and local ingredients. Bourdain introduced different cuisines to the world. Polo also like that he talked about the politics and culture of each area and how food can influence people’s lives. Acqua Alta will feature a half-price wine special on Le Rive Venetia wine on June 25.
The Fountain Grille; Safety Harbor Spa: Jeremy Rogers
Rogers has been at the Fountain Grille for nine years, three as Head Chef. Rogers respected Bourdain’s knowledge and passion for food. In particular he liked how Bourdain was an advocate for the average cook laboring behind the scenes, doing the hard work, sometimes at “hole in the wall” locations. Bourdain’s demeanor was always respectful, supportive, and friendly.
The Kitchen & Bar: Jason Rodis
Rodis is an alumni of the Culinary Institute of America, as was Bourdain, and he briefly worked with Bourdain in New York. Although not a fan of food shows in general, he believes Bourdain was an advocate for kitchen workers and that he tried to highlight the hard work and dedication of the average cook. The Kitchen Bar will run a drink special for the day.
Marker 39: Justin Murphy
Murphy worked for Jose Andres in Miami at Cafe Atlantico right after completing culinary school. Murphy said he grew up in the generation of Kitchen Confidential chefs and has read all of Bourdain’s books. He felt Bourdain really opened people’s minds about the possibilities of cooking in general and fusion cuisine in particular. Murphy felt Bourdain was an amazing cook who introduced many people to food culture through travel. Bourdain was also a social activist and unapologetic about his views. Murphy feels Bourdain’s self-deprecating nature was admirable, given his fame.
Marker 39 is closed on Tuesday 6/25, but Murphy set a memorial table dedicated to Bourdain after his death last year.
Parts of Paris: Eben Chriss
Parts of Paris chef Eben Chriss is a fan of Bourdain’s and has read A Cook’s Tour. He admires Bourdain’s style, his contributions and general knowledge; the way he promoted different styles of cooking. He was “real and unfiltered” – not trying to dress things up or impress anyone, but always thinking outside the box.
On June 25, raise a toast and share your thoughts to remember Bourdain on his birthday.