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The Schmooze

It’s Bourdain Day — Here’s How To Celebrate

June 25, 2019 would have been Anthony Bourdain’s 63rd birthday.

The celebrated chef and adventurer, who occupied a place as a kind of poet laureate of international cuisine, died just over a year ago. Bourdain, who had been open about his struggle with addiction and depression, killed himself in June 2018 while in France, shooting his popular CNN food show, “Parts Unknown.”

Fans of the suave, kindhearted chef have chosen his birthday, rather than the day of his death, to celebrate his legacy. Chefs Eric Ripert and José Andrés, who were close friends of Bourdain, introduced the idea of spending June 25 dining well and working up an appetite for the new, the different, the unknown. The hashtag “#BourdainDay” is trending on Twitter and other social media, per the friends’ requests.

“I only hope people will turn all that grief into happiness of life, and remembering how Tony made the world a smaller place by bringing us all together,” Andrés told Esquire on Monday. “I hope that this is a place that many people will go, will enjoy life, will have a drink,” he continued. “They will cook, they will go to a food truck. They will go to [a] picnic. They will go to [a] street vendor. A hot dog, a fancy restaurant, whatever. And they will toast Tony.”

Bourdain’s huge magnetism lay in his ability to see other people, and to use his privileged position to elevate others in a way that never felt exploitative. His knack for spotting and telegraphing the holiness in others shouldn’t have been radical, but it was. He brought nuance and empathy to the plight of undocumented workers and the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and roared with delight over foie gras and fried hotdogs.

“Tony showed the guy at a foot stool in Manila the same respect as Thomas Keller in Los Angeles, and treated the woman cooking in an apartment in wherever just as equally,” his brother Chris told CNN this week.

Here are just a few ways people around the world are celebrating Bourdain Day:

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For people struggling with depression and suicidal ideation, Bourdain’s story is particularly painful. The 61-year-old was wealthy and beloved, yet his story ended tragically. But Bourdain spoke honestly about the importance of seeking help and finding ways to live, in spite of the cruelty of depression. Remember that legacy on Bourdain Day. And then get yourself a great taco/pho/escargot.

Happy birthday, Anthony Bourdain.

Jenny Singer is the deputy life/features editor for the Forward. You can reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter @jeanvaljenny


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