The Enormous Life of Anthony Bourdain, According to Those Who Knew Him Best [Drew Magary/GQ]

Anthony Bourdain’s friends and family remember his life and death. “That was a singular, brilliant, magnificent human being.”

Helen Rosner (food correspondent, ‘The New Yorker’): I remember sitting across from him at this table at this sort of sticky beer bar and him saying to me, “Helen, it makes a difference if you walk in the door saying, ‘I’m going to love it here,’ or you walk in the door saying, ‘This place is going to suck.’ ”

[Eric Ripert (chef, Le Bernardin; Tony’s close friend and frequent on-air guest)]: He never complained about anything. That was something that struck me about Tony. You could be hours in a car, or you could be in freezing weather, or you could be in a room with very unpleasant people, and Tony would not complain, ever….

[Morgan Fallon, of Zero Point Zero Productions, which produced Bourdain’s show and other food programming]: There were folks who wanted to put him at this fancy golf resort near the town of Welch, West Virginia. And they were like, “Tony will be more comfortable there.” I was telling them, “No. He’s gonna stay in town.” It’s old, it’s run-down, it’s not exactly comfortable. You can’t drink the tap water there. And Tony showed up there being like, “I love this little hotel!” And he’d just be sitting there on the front porch, screwing around with his phone, kind of absorbing the environment with no one messing with him. And I saw him truly comfortable and happy there.

[ZPZ co-founder Chris Collins]: Tony was also sorta klutzy.

[ZPZ co-founder Linda Tenaglia]: Very klutzy.

[Peter Meehan, co-founder, Lucky Peach magazine]: He had an AOL e-mail address.

Ripert found Bourdain’s body. He declined to discuss the event, or Bourdain’s final days, for this interview.

Anthony Bourdain talks about “Kitchen Confidential” and American food culture in an outstanding interview

Smithsoian’s Ron Rosenbaum sits down with the writer and chef.

Rosenbaum talks about Bourdain’s book Kitchen Confidential, one of the most inspiring books I’ve read, and captures much of what I found appealing about it:

Kitchen Confidential is one of the few books in recent American literature to capture the communal ecstasy of Work. American writers rarely write about work anymore. Not tech work, quant work, digital work, but real work, manual work, crew work, often skilled but sweaty.

Yes! For me, that was a big part of the appeal of Kitchen Confidential: Communal work, as part of something bigger than yourself, even if that something is just a restaurant serving mediocre, instantly-forgotten seafood to tourists on Cape Cod. I’m wistful about that. I’ve worked from a home office for about half my career — that’s isolated work.

Bourdain is passionate for the work itself. I get that sometimes on my job. Not often enough, but sometimes.

Cooking, [Bourdain] says, can “develop this glorious culture that values certain things. Firemen have that same sort of thing—there’s us and f–k everyone else. Cop culture, people who are doing difficult things who are used to being under-appreciated….You develop a unit pride that allows you to transcend the overwhelming likelihood that the mission is doomed, OK?”

Bourdain also talks about America’s growing food culture:

[T]he whole seismic food culture shift isn’t American superficiality but the New World learning what the Old World has known for centuries. “We’re just catching on,” he says. “We are changing societally, and our values are changing, so that we are becoming more like Italians and Chinese and Thais and Spaniards, where we actually think about what we’re eating, what we ate last night, and what we’re considering eating tomorrow. When I grew up in the ’60s, we’d go to see a movie, then we would go to a restaurant. And we would talk about the movie we just saw. Now, you go right to dinner and you talk about the dinner you had last week and the dinner you’re going to have next week, while you’re taking pictures of the dinner you’re having now. That’s a very Italian thing. A lot of the sort of hypocrisy and silliness and affectation of current American food culture is just fits and starts, awkwardly and foolishly growing into a place where a lot of older cultures have been for quite some time.”

Anthony Bourdain’s Theory on the Foodie Revolution

Kitchen Confidential (paperback, hardcover, Kindle, Audible) (Amazon Associates links.)