There are, were and will be many celebrity chefs. But there can be only one story-teller of culinary civilisation. That man is Anthony Bourdain, who is suspected to have committed suicide in a hotel room in France while shooting for his series, each of which has cult appeal across cultures and which has connected many people through the simple love of food and the happiness of sharing it. Gifted storyteller he was, but it was his way of peeling the layers of humanity through the metaphor of food that offered a rare and frank insight into lives that was free of any bias, opinionating or condescension, though he could be brutally honest and irreverent.
He expanded our horizons casually, like a minstrel knocking from door to door. Many top chefs are masters in their kitchen but to democratise that expertise and relate it to our origins is a copyright that Bourdain will enjoy for eternity. Nor can one forget how he advocated marginalised populations and communities by celebrating their food in their milieu. It is this easy camaraderie that helped locals open up their hearts to him in a manner that many mainline journalists couldn’t.
Often the world’s biggest conflicts and crisis had an explanation in his docu-narratives where food became the only camera. “We ask very simple questions: What makes you happy? What do you eat? What do you like to cook? And everywhere in the world we go and ask these very simple questions, and we tend to get some really astonishing answers.” One wonders why he didn’t find the answer to his own isolation and failed to conjure a recipe of his life.
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