HOW WE TALK ABOUT AND REMEMBER ANTHONY BOURDAIN COULD HELP OTHERS

Letter from The Editor

APPARATUS editor Maro Onokpise on how the passing of an iconic figure and how his death resonated with the world.


I really don’t want to make a habit out of doing this. Especially after getting word of the passing of another one of our icons. But today’s news of the untimely death of Anthony Bourdain, the Emmy-winning, chef, writer and storyteller was tough to take. This is for a number of reasons. He was one of the inspirations behind why I started Apparatus and an influence in how I travel. When you watched any of his shows, it made you feel as if you were right there in the thick of the action. It just felt as if you knew him personally.

When I travel, I truly try to do my destination justice and try my best to experience each location as Anthony Bourdain would. Going beyond the touristy stuff and really enjoying the locals and the local flare.

According to his employer, CNN, Anthony Bourdain committed suicide. This, comes just days after high-profile designer Kate Spade hanged herself in her New York apartment.  It could just be coincidence, but there is a very unfortunate theme here. Individuals who we look up to and prop up are dealing with things that we know nothing about. Those so-called perfect lives aren’t perfect. Those that seem to have it all, really do have it all. And that may be what is tough to deal with.

According to a report from the CDC, a person dies by suicide every 13 minutes. According to the World Health Organization, close to 800,000 individuals take their own lives worldwide every year.

Anthony Bourdain brought a badassness to being a chef. For decades he worked 13-hour days as a line cook in restaurants in New York and the Northeast before becoming an executive chef in the 90s at Brasserie Les Halles in Lower Manhattan. After being the chef there for eight years, he sent an unsolicited article to The New Yorker in which he discussed the underbelly of the restaurant world.

Surprisingly they ran the article, which lead to book editors catching wind of it. This resulted in “Kitchen Confidential”, a memoir that took his chef celebrity to new heights and lead to a TV career. Before joining CNN in 2012, he traveled the globe for eight seasons as the host of “No Reservations” on the Travel Channel where he featured unknown restaurants and exotic cuisine.

What was revealed during this time was the connection of restaurant life and drug abuse. Bourdain’s struggles with cocaine in the 1980s were also well-documented.

What I am hoping is that with the unfortunate passing of both Spade and Bourdain, the media and all of us in general are more responsible in how we talk about suicide and with respect to the family members that are left behind.

There are resources available to those who may need help including such as The National Suicide Hotline, 1-800-273-8255, and the Crisis Text Line (text HOME to 741741).

Anthony Bourdain will be sadly missed. He brought something fresh and different to food, travel and life altogether. He exposed us to places that we may not ever visit and experiences we may never have. We are all better people for that.

Rest in Peace Mr. Bourdain.

Maro Onokpise is the editor of APPARATUS

If you’re depressed, feeling down, please talk to your loved ones. Talk to anyone. If you need help, call the suicide prevention lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Image by: David Scott Holloway/CNN