Anthony Bourdain would have turned 63 on Tuesday. He left the world a little over a year ago, dying by suicide on a trip to France.
His death shocked the culinary world, leading to an outpouring of remembrances and regret that such a vivid personality was gone while he was still such a vital presence.
Led by his friends, the chefs Eric Ripert and Jose Andres, people in the restaurant world marked Tuesday as #BourdainDay. “Today, all the world let’s celebrate Tony!” Andres tweeted.
Some dined out in his honor; others posted videos, and many conducted conversations on social media about Bourdain and the impact he had on the food world.
It was clear that Bourdain’s passing is still a fresh wound for some of those who knew him best, such as David Simon, the writer and television producer.
Kat Kinsman, the senior editor at Food & Wine magazine, conducted a special edition of her Communal Table podcast, including a conversation with Bourdain’s long-time assistant and co-author, Laurie Woolever.
His alma mater, the Culinary Institute of America, launched a scholarship in his honor.
It is intended to help culinary students study abroad, learn international cuisine and have cultural experiences like those Bourdain illustrated on his television programs.
On Tuesday, Bourdain also was remembered by people who enjoyed a lasting impact on their businesses because he came by.
Nine years after he visited Monahan’s Seafood in Ann Arbor, Mich., photos of Bourdain remain on display, a souvenir of his day at the Kerrytown Market, a collection of restaurants and food shops.
He came at the invitation of Borders Books & Music, then headquartered in Ann Arbor, to film a promotional video for his book, Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine To The World Of Food And The People Who Cook.
The visit was supposed to be a secret, says Mike Monahan, the seafood shop’s owner.
But, word got out that he would be there, and the Kerrytown aisles filled up with local chefs, fans and students from Community High School nearby.
Bourdain wasn’t bothered, Monahan says. “He was very, very nice. Now, he’s a little hard edged on show, but he was very kind and spent time with all of us.”
After visiting a series of Kerrytown businesses, Bourdain, Monahan and the crew hung out in the courtyard, and drank beer. “He sucked a few oysters down and ate some smelt with it,” Monahan says.
You can see photos of the day on Monahan’s website.
As he was leaving, Monahan gave Bourdain one of the shop’s signature t-shirts, featuring a squid drawn that Monahan drew himself.
The t-shirt subsequently popped up at Bourdain’s appearances, and on episodes of his then-TV program, No Reservations, which aired on the Travel Channel.
“People would keep calling and say, ‘Tony’s wearing that shirt!'” Monahan remembers. “So that meant a lot to me, and I appreciated it very much.”
When he heard the news of Bourdain’s death last year, “I was shocked, like everyone else,” Monahan says.
“But we’ve seen it happen with other people in our lives. (Depression) is a complicated disease, and it doesn’t always show itself on the outside.”
On her podcast, Kinsman, an advocate on mental health issues, included resources for people struggling with depression.
Monahan thinks Bourdain’s legacy ultimately will be the visibility he brought to cuisines and people around the world, who might not otherwise have gotten attention.
“He’ll be remembered as somebody that was very passionate, not just about food, and very caring about the food end of people wherever he went,” Monahan says. “He seemed to take a personal interest in the people that were around him.”
Monahan says he wishes Bourdain could have taken a break from constant travel, and just spent time on a beach to recharge.
“Can you imagine the schedule he must have had?” Monahan says. “He was probably totally exhausted while he was here. I don’t even think he knew what town he was in. But, he was so gracious, and so friendly.”