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How Anthony Bourdain wanted to be remembered: 'Maybe that I grew up a little'

CNBC logo CNBC 6/8/2018 Megan Leonhardt
Anthony Bourdain smiling for the camera © Provided by CNBC

Celebrity chef and world traveler Anthony Bourdain, who described himself as an "enthusiast," died on Friday at age 61. From his early days in the spotlight as the author of the bestselling memoir "Kitchen Confidential" to his support of the #MeToo movement earlier this year, Bourdain was an honest and original voice, one that will be remembered by millions.

CNN, which aired Bourdain's popular travel show "Parts Unknown," confirmed his passing. "His love of great adventure, new friends, fine food and drink and the remarkable stories of the world made him a unique storyteller. His talents never ceased to amaze us and we will miss him very much," the network said in a statement.

In recent years, Bourdain was best known for inviting Americans along with him on journeys that spanned from Vietnam to West Virginia. Along the way, he became a staunch advocate for the education and opportunities that come with travel. He encouraged his audience not only to travel widely but to travel with open hearts and open minds. And he stressed that it doesn't take a lot of money to find memorable experiences, ones that can challenge preconceived beliefs and broaden your perspective.

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When I interviewed Bourdain in February for Money Magazine, it was his combination of practicality and poetry that stood out to me most. He stressed a simple approach to travel: Slow down and take the time learn the daily rhythms of other cultures. "Don't be afraid to just sit and watch. One of my great joys in places that I love, and have come to love, is to sit and watch daily life. You learn so much," he told me.

A controversial figure at times, Bourdain took aim at politicians and fellow chefs alike. And he was open about his past struggles with alcohol and drugs: He wrote in detail about his cocaine habit in "Kitchen Confidential," for example.

In a March interview for "Wine Spectator," Bourdain reflected on how he wanted to be remembered: "Maybe that I grew up a little. That I'm a dad, that I'm not a half-bad cook, that I can make a good coq au vin. That would be nice. And not such a bad bastard after all."

Here's a look at some of the other wisdom he shared over the years.

"Do we really want to travel in hermetically sealed popemobiles through the rural provinces of France, Mexico and the Far East, eating only in Hard Rock Cafes and McDonalds? Or do we want to eat without fear, tearing into the local stew, the humble taqueria's mystery meat, the sincerely offered gift of a lightly grilled fish head? I know what I want. I want it all. I want to try everything once."

―"Kitchen Confidential," August 2000

"My favorite restaurants are ones where they only do two or three things. A place that does three things and it looks like they've been doing those same three things for a very long time—that's a really healthy sign. If they have a menu that's all over the place, if they have a hamburger or Asian fusion and it's not in Asia, these are all worrisome to me."

April 2018 Money Magazine interview on how Bourdain likes to find restaurants when he travels

"I am so confused. It wasn't supposed to be like this — of all the places, of all the countries, all the years of traveling, it's here, in Iran, that I am greeted most warmly by total strangers."

—"Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown, Iran," November 2014

"Without experimentation, a willingness to ask questions and try new things, we shall surely become static, repetitive, and moribund."

—"Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook," June 2010

"Here in the heart of every belief system I've ever mocked or fought against, I was welcomed with open arms by everyone. I found a place both heartbreaking, and beautiful. A place that symbolizes and contains everything wrong and everything wonderful and hopeful about America."

–"Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, West Virginia," April 2018

"In these current circumstances, one must pick a side. I stand unhesitatingly and unwaveringly with the women. Not out of virtue, or integrity, or high moral outrage — as much as I'd like to say so — but because late in life, I met one extraordinary woman with a particularly awful story to tell, who introduced me to other extraordinary women with equally awful stories. I am grateful to them for their courage, and inspired by them. That doesn't make me any more enlightened than any other man who has begun listening and paying attention. It does makes me, I hope, slightly less stupid."

December 2017 Medium post published after Bourdain's girlfriend, Asia Argento, detailed her encounters with Harvey Weinstein in the New Yorker

"[When I die] I will decidedly not be regretting missed opportunities for a good time. My regrets will be more along the lines of a sad list of people hurt, people let down, assets wasted and advantages squandered."

—"Kitchen Confidential," August 2000

"Money doesn't particularly excite or thrill me; the making of money gives me no particular satisfaction. To me, money is freedom from insecurity, freedom to move, time if you choose to make use of time. My investments advisor understands that I'm not looking to score big on the stock market or bonds. I have zero understanding of it and zero interest. Life is too short."

—March 2017 interview with WealthSimple

Related gallery: 11 Ways Anthony Bourdain Changed the Food World (provided by The Daily Meal)


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