I was always a fan of cooking and traveling shows ever since I was a kid. The combination of food and travel is a great mix when it is done well. Rick Steve’s Europe, a PBS staple, is one of the shows that comes to mind. However, Anthony Bourdain brought this type of TV programming to another level. The combination of food, travel and his extraordinary talent of storytelling simply created great TV. The audience connected with his authenticity from his early shows on A Cook’s Tour to his current show Parts Unknown. In addition, his shows were driven by his genuine curiosity of not only the food, but of the people and their culture. His shows touched millions of people, and that is why his suicide affected so many.
Sometimes fame is lonely. Anthony had fought many demons throughout his life. He fought through drug addiction, more specifically heroin and was quite open about that. He turned his life around and became a global success starting with his book Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly which became a bestseller, and then his television shows. Many people do not realize that he also wrote the narration of his shows. This was another element that made his shows authentic. Check out this video where Anthony is discussing the music of his show Parts Unknown:
However, this fame also brought him some episodes of depression that in the end got the best of him. Nobody will ever know what was going on through his mind at the time, but one thing is for certain, it took the world by surprise. I know I felt a loss when I learned of his passing as if I knew him. I guess when you watch a show every week, you get attached to the characters. But this was not a character. He was the real deal in front of the camera, no bull. Many people interviewed after his passing claim that he was the same in real life. The people connected to this authenticity, relating to his straight-shooting attitude. People felt they knew him because he was like them. This relationship that he built throughout his shows is what makes this suicide surreal and hard to believe.
I discovered Anthony Bourdain in syndication. The fact that he came to Montreal and Quebec was quite cool. Having Martin Picard from the now famous Au Pied de Cochon and Joe Beef’s David McMillan on his shows on a yearly basis was a testament that he enjoyed la belle province. We are fortunate in Montreal to have excellent restaurants. You can find any type of cuisine in Montreal from comfort food to fine dining; old school to new fusion. We have it all and I think that is what Anthony Bourdain was trying to illustrate on his shows when he came here.
Anthony Bourdain is not the first superstar to have ended his life. One of the most recent well-known suicides that come to mind are Kate Spade and Robin Williams. Sometimes all the fame and fortune does not take away the anxieties that people live with. When a famous person commits suicide, it sheds a light on an issue that is often not taken seriously by society. Unless it happens to someone close to you, people sympathise with the issue, but are mostly indifferent. Depression leading to suicidal tendencies is on the rise. Discussion on the reality of suicide and suicide prevention are necessary to educate the public on the warning signs that may lead to suicide. To know more about suicide prevention, you can go to https://suicideprevention.ca/ or https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org
Anthony Bourdain was a beloved TV personality that will be missed. He became the voice of chef restaurant owners and tried to help them out the most he can. Nothing gave him more pleasure than featuring someone who was starting out on one of his shows and then seeing these people becoming successful. His authenticity, his unique ability to present various places through his unfiltered lens, and his ability to connect with people from all over the world will be hard to replace. Hopefully he is now in a better place and at peace. R.I.P. Anthony Bourdain.