Anthony Bourdain, who was reported dead by suicide this morning by CNN, first came to Charleston in 2007 to record an episode of No Reservations, his food travelogue on the Travel Channel that profiled different places with his signature mix of bravado and insight.
During that visit to town, he first met chef Sean Brock, who at that point was locally celebrated at McCrady's but not yet the internationally known celebrity chef he would eventually become.
Brock met Bourdain as I interviewed him at the Market Pavilion Hotel, and he came bearing a jar of White Lightning (a.k.a. moonshine) and a bit of fan-boy awkwardness.
Bourdain's subsequent Charleston episode missed the mark for many local food industry vets, with champagne at an oyster roast and blessings at Jestine's.
Fast forward to 2011 and Brock headed to Tokyo for Cook It Raw, an international event being covered by Bourdain and crew. The two bonded and became fast friends. You can see it happening on camera.
In 2015, Bourdain returned to Charleston, to finally get it right with Brock as his guide for an episode of Parts Unknown, the CNN version of his travelogue show. It was an epic trek through Charleston with Bill Murray, Rodney Scott and Waffle House all making appearances.
Brock sent this statement about Bourdain's passing: "I will dearly miss my friend Anthony Bourdain. Whether it is mental illness, substance abuse, or anything else that may cause pain: suffering is not shameful and asking for help is not weakness. This serves as a reminder that just because people appear to be living a 'perfect' life, they may be struggling and need help. If we don’t take care of ourselves, we can’t take care of the ones we love. Every life is so incredibly valuable and equally as fragile."
A good reminder that there are resources available to those dealing with addiction and depression. The National Suicide Hotline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255). suicidepreventionlifeline.org. The food industry has begun rallying in recent years to help its own. Chefs With Issues is a good resource that can direct those suffering to help.
Charleston's food community commisserated on social media with an outpouring of shock and sadness.
I once cooked you a hanger steak @eatatfig , must have gone to the bathroom 17 times just to sweep the dining room to see you (back in 2005), this of course meant to me that “I cooked for a celebrity.” And of course I told everyone we met and that made us total buds. Thank you for all that you did for all of us. Xo
I cannot even fathom how great a loss @anthonybourdain is to so many human beings. This man’s voice gave me comfort through many very dark nights. I’ve spent days of my life watching him and finding comfort that this guy got it. RIP chef. I’ll never forget getting to hang and and just drink beer and shoot the shit with Tony.
The first time I met @anthonybourdain he walked into the kitchen at Per Se and sarcastically announced “you’re the most spoiled bunch of babies in all of New York City!” Every chef laughed and shouted “yes Chef!” in unison. As with most everything pertaining to food, he was right. 🖤 Please listen and be kind to one another. NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE 1 800 273 8255
Maybe we all wanted to hang out with him. He was that cool, fun, frank, insightful. He introduced us to distant lands and to people with different traditions. And without ever preaching, he reminded us that we humans are far more alike than different. Thank you Anthony Bourdain pic.twitter.com/QMznx4JMhS— Mia Farrow (@MiaFarrow) June 8, 2018
Stunned and saddened by the loss of Anthony Bourdain. He brought the world into our homes and inspired so many people to explore cultures and cities through their food. Remember that help is a phone call away US:1-800-273-TALK UK: 116 123— Gordon Ramsay (@GordonRamsay) June 8, 2018