THE STORY THAT LAUNCHED ANTHONY BOURDAIN’S MEDIA CAREER

A day later we are still in shock and saddened by the passing of Anthony Bourdain. The cause of death has since been revealed. According to the prosecutor of Colmar in France’s Alsace region, Bourdain hanged himself in the bathroom of his French hotel room. Prosecutor Christian de Rocquigny told The Associated Press on Saturday that the famed chef and host of the CNN series “Parts Unknown” used the belt of his hotel bathrobe to commit suicide on Friday. “There is no element that makes us suspect that someone came into the room at any moment.” He also said a medical expert had concluded there were no signs of violence on Bourdain’s body.

Bourdain built an incredible career as a chef, author and storyteller. All of that may not have been possible if he would have never written an unsolicited article to The New Yorker which they ended up publishing. It caught the attention of editors and the rest is history.  What exactly was in that article that changed the trajectory of his career?

“Good food, good eating, is all about blood and organs, cruelty and decay. It’s about sodium-loaded pork fat, stinky triple-cream cheeses, the tender thymus glands and distended livers of young animals,” is how the article begins.  In “Don’t Eat Before Reading This.” he goes on:

I love the sheer weirdness of the kitchen life: the dreamers, the crackpots, the refugees, and the sociopaths with whom I continue to work; the ever-present smells of roasting bones, searing fish, and simmering liquids; the noise and clatter, the hiss and spray, the flames, the smoke, and the steam…Being a chef is a lot like being an air-traffic controller: you are constantly dealing with the threat of disaster. You’ve got to be Mom and Dad, drill sergeant, detective, psychiatrist, and priest to a crew of opportunistic, mercenary hooligans, whom you must protect from the nefarious and often foolish strategies of owners. Year after year, cooks contend with bouncing paychecks, irate purveyors, desperate owners looking for the masterstroke that will cure their restaurant’s ills: Live Cabaret! Free Shrimp! New Orleans Brunch!

“Don’t Eat Before Reading This” was the foundation for Bourdain’s bestselling book in 2000: Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly.

Read the entire New Yorker piece here.

 

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