New York City restaurants and chefs spoke out in profusion this weekend following the death of iconic global storyteller Anthony Bourdain. The chef and food writer famously cooked for decades in NYC before his second career as a journalist and writer, when he championed and befriended many in the restaurant industry — in ways both big and little, as many have revealed.
All weekend, New Yorkers flooded Les Halles, the French restaurant where Bourdain once served as executive chef, with tributes and memorials. The papered-over windows of the now-closed Murray Hill restaurant at 411 Park Avenue South, between East 28th and East 29th streets, is covered with notes, small presents, photographs, and flowers. Notably, the Eleven Madison Park Summer House team left a Sharpie taped to the window with a note that reads, “Chef, you may need these!” in a reference to chefs using the marker frequently in professional kitchens.
Other chefs took to social media to express their grief. With very personal anecdotes, former Kang Ho Dong Baekjeong chef Deuki Hong and Standard hotels chef Angela Dimayuga shared the huge influence Bourdain had on their lives and careers. Hong wrote that he will always remember Bordain’s “genuine humility” and miss “our conversations about our hometown Leonia where we both grew up, his love for soju, and my future goals.” The words are accompanied by a sweet screenshot in which Bourdain praises Hong’s cooking talents in a magazine profile.
• “Please, call me Tony”. • “No, chef” • • That was one our first interactions of many to come. I will miss our conversations about our hometown Leonia where we both grew up, his love for soju, and my future goals. So instead of posting any photos with him which are hard for me to see..ill post what I’ll miss the most about him. His words. This is from his @newyorkermag profile that perfectly captures his genuine humility. Praying this morning for his daughter and the whole @zpzproduction team. To the most gentle, humble, and super supportive uncle in my culinary life. Love you, chef. #rip #anthonybourdain #missyou #chef
Dimayuga posted that Bourdain had offered to be her mentor and that she will “will carry that energy with me forever.” Dimayuga, a Filipina chef who passionately represents the cuisine, wrote that Bourdain “was always pushing forward the good word of our cuisine and I was always appreciative.”
Gutted. Rest in power Tony. Anthony Bourdain was an OG supporter of mine. 1st photo is selfie from when he visited MCF2 in our first few months of opening. I understood that he actually “got me” bc he not only enjoyed the food but had commented on my pink awning I designed and spa music in the bathroom as major bonuses. 2nd pic is when he met my parents—who freaked when they met him. My dad hugged him and Tony shared that they had a spectacular daughter and that I was his hero. Ultimate props and validity in immigrant parent world. I had captioned the pic “me, my mom, and two dads”. Third, a quote he never told me in real life that I just found one day on the internet that he would appoint and trust me as his hypothetical selection of ambassador to Filipino food. He was always pushing forward the good word of our cuisine and I was always appreciative. I had dinner with him a mere two weeks ago when he offered to be my mentor and that I could call him at any hour of the day. Only had a few mentors in my life that unconditionally supported me so it meant a whole lot. That’ll be a different type of call now. Thank you for your years of support... im fucking wrecked but will carry that energy with me forever.
Cronut creator Dominique Ansel attributed some of his creativity to Bourdain, writing in part, “Tony once asked me in an interview how I would feel about ‘Creator of the Cronut®️’ being on my tombstone. Years later, I admitted to him that question haunted me and led me to push myself to create more. He laughed out loud and said he was glad he asked it.”
A chef’s chef, a brilliant storyteller, and an incredible mind who opened up the entire world to us through food and the people he met along the way. Tony once asked me in an interview how I would feel about “Creator of the Cronut®️” being on my tombstone. Years later, I admitted to him that question haunted me and led me to push myself to create more. He laughed out loud and said he was glad he asked it. Tony addresses things others think about but are afraid or uncomfortable to ask, in hopes of challenging and changing things for the better. It was my favorite thing about him. RIP @anthonybourdain, you will be missed.
Food personality and musician Questlove shared that he and Bourdain would often joke around, such as when Bourdain came on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, on which Questlove’s band plays. “Anthony came on Fallon often, and every time, he liked to warn me that his walk-on music better have ‘some umph to it.’ He wanted power and attitude. I’d agree with him, and then I’d play another Billy Joel song, which infuriated him,” he wrote.
Just saw the news this morning about Anthony Bourdain’s passing. I have so many thoughts about him—memories, emotions, and unanswered questions—that right now it’s sort of a jumble. I feel so thankful for him to introducing me to a world I never knew, the world of food and especially food around the world. It was through Anthony that I learned about who the sushi master Jiro Ono was and that recommendation (seeing the Jiro doc & making a pilgrimage to Tokyo by any means necessary) singlehandedly changed the course of my professional and creative life. Anthony also believed, and talked often, about how all forms of creativity were connected: how chefs and drummers and comedians and actors and directors and painters all drew on the same well of thoughts and emotions. That feeling stuck with me. Watching him take trips to faraway lands to get a taste of heaven (and, just as often, to show how life on earth can be hell for people under the thumb of cruel governments or oppressive poverty) was the equivalent of my many trips to obscure record shops continents away. Lastly I’ll miss our endless banter about the merits (or lack therof) of Yacht Rock. Anthony came on Fallon often, and every time, he liked to warn me that his walk-on music better have “some umph to it.” He wanted power and attitude. I’d agree with him, and then I’d play another Billy Joel song, which infuriated him. A few years back, to thank him for writing the foreword to my book, I started the ultimate troll project, though I never got to give it to him. We had an “argument” over Herb Alpert’s “Route 101”: I made the case that the song’s good-feeling/good-time vibe couldn’t be denied, and he made the case that he denied it, and the more heated the argument got the more we laughed. I told him imma make him the mother of smooth-pop playlists and then he would see the light. I’m finishing that playlist, and when I do, I’ll name it after him, just so I can imagine that laugh of his.
Other than stories of Bourdain’s generosity and kindness, many chefs and restaurateurs — such as David Chang, Daniel Boulud, Danny Meyer, Marcus Samuelsson, and George Mendes — marked their sadness with a remembrance post. Torishin and Takashi, restaurants that Bourdain loved loudly, also posted.
Fans remembered Bourdain as a champion for immigrant-owned restaurants and legacy businesses. Xi’an Famous Foods co-owner Jason Wang wrote about how Bourdain completely transformed his life by supporting the Flushing restaurant on an episode of No Reservations, while longtime Upper West Side Jewish deli Barney Greengrass set out a table for Bourdain with his favorite order: Novia Scotia lox, an egg scramble, and some bagels.
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