I woke up to the news this morning that celebrity chef, writer and journalist Anthony Bourdain took his life in France earlier today. His suicide is all the more shocking considering he had what many believed to be the best job in the world, traveling the globe, eating incredible food and paling around with chefs, celebrities and friends he helped make famous.
His death shows that depression and suicide can strike anyone, and more importantly, reveals how little we actually know about mental health in this country and how difficult it can be to recognize that someone is in danger.
It’s sad to lose Anthony Bourdain when we needed him most — he was one of the only journalists in this country that was able to keep his appeal to a broad cross-section of backgrounds. He was a New Yorker beloved by Middle America and a global icon who spoke openly and honestly. He wasn’t the voice of any one particular generation — he was the voice of the moment, the voice of right now.
Bourdain struck gold by making food and travel feel accessible. He was smart but never too smart. He never gushed over his plate or coddled his celebrity friends. His dry, sharp wit and cynical worldview made him relatable, while his appreciation of street food and his extraordinary ability to bring intellectual power to simple, beloved dishes brought him down to our level. I never met Anthony Bourdain, but it was easy to get what he was doing and he really seemed like he got us too. He knew how to talk to people. He knew how to relate.
While it’s important to try and understand what pushed Bourdain to take his own life, it’s also important to honor what he so eloquently accomplished in his career. Despite his incredible success and fame, Bourdain never seemed to lose his connection with working people — people like you and me with families, deadlines and stress. When the media seemed to be shifting to a tribal approach with two clearly delineated sides, Bourdain remained accessible and articulate, using his platform to listen to people instead of telling them how to think. It was easy to cheer for Bourdain, and in death, it’s difficult not to mourn and feel emptiness and loss.
Thank you for everything you gave to the world Anthony Bourdain. You weren’t just one of the greats — you were the absolute best.