Indian chefs remember Anthony Bourdain, ‘the original rock star’
New Delhi/Mumbai: Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, a man dubbed the rock star of the world of food, was found dead on Friday in a hotel room in Strasbourg, France, in an apparent case of suicide.
The 61-year-old American chef, the host of CNN’s food-and-travel-focused Parts Unknown TV series, was working on an upcoming episode of his programme, CNN said.
Bourdain, who ran several kitchens in New York, shot to fame in 1999, when the New Yorker published his article Don’t Eat Before Reading This, which he developed into the best-selling book, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly (2000).
The death was mourned by chefs in India along with those around the world.
“His most important contribution to food was that he liberated a whole generation of chefs,” said Manu Chandra, chef partner of Monkey Bar, The Fatty Bao and Toast & Tonic.
Chandra, who went to the same culinary school as Bourdain in New York, remembers meeting him in 2001. “We had met at a private event. Kitchen Confidential, a no-holds-barred account of sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, had just come out. And it had enormous impact. He changed the game,” said Chandra about the man the Smithsonian called “the original rock star” of the culinary world.
“Like for many chefs around the globe, Bourdain was a big influence for me while I was starting out. He was irreverent, honest, curious, never condescending and never obsequious,” said Prateek Sadhu, head chef and co-owner at Masque Restaurant, who also went to the same culinary school, the Culinary Institute of America. “I feel lucky to have one thing in common with Anthony.”
Bourdain was a gifted storyteller who wrote eight books. Gresham Fernandes, culinary director, Impresario Group, has a copy of almost all of them but is “particularly drawn to his initial works, which made me realise that I’m not the only one who wants to do crazy stuff with food”.
“As a television presenter, you could tell he wasn’t being fake on camera. This was exactly who he was in real life—badass, simple and straight from the heart. I still remember an episode from his show A Cook’s Tour, where he ate the beating heart of a cobra,” added Fernandes.
“He spoke honestly, from his heart, and was heard around the world. That is his legacy,” said London-based Indian chef Vineet Bhatia.
Gauri Devidayal, who along with her husband runs the popular Mumbai restaurant, The Table, regularly followed Bourdain’s shows. “We were watching the Vietnam episode of Parts Unknown just last night. It was a ritual for us. Bourdain was like the Lonely Planet of food,” said Devidayal
“We heard the news of Bourdain’s death when we were in a work meeting and the entire room fell quiet. There is no one else like him in the industry.”
Reuters and AP contributed to this story.