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NYC Chefs Mourn Anthony Bourdain With Touching Tributes

Les Halles and social media have been flooded with fans and friends paying their respects

The Anthony Bourdain memorial at Les Halles
The Anthony Bourdain memorial at Les Halles

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.

EMP note at Les Halles
EMP note at Les Halles
Fans leave tributes to Anthony Bourdain at Les Halles
Fans leave loving tributes to Anthony Bourdain at Les Halles
Anthony Bourdain fans at Les Halles
The windows are completely covered

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.

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.”

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.”

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.

A post shared by Quest Loves Food (@questlovesfood) on

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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