7 Important Lessons Anthony Bourdain Taught Us

“Your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.”

It was just two days ago that a new acquaintance questioned my outlandish admiration for Anthony Bourdain. “Why do you like him so much?” he’d essentially asked. After rambling on for fifteen or so minutes, I arrived at this somewhat simple explanation: Bourdain is a rare recipe combining compassion and punk rock. He’s fearless, foul-mouthed, empathetic, insightful, inquisitive. A true original.

My love for him, I’d explained, has always been about so much more than food. Bourdain has this unique talent of taking the unknown—a place I was always taught to fear—and making it something I’d drop everything to see. He’s inspired me to always search for human connection and authenticity, to travel without fear, and live without reservations. If I could credit my sense of curiosity to anyone, it would be him. (I credit some of my favourite meals and travel destinations to his wisdom, as well. Oh, and every street food induced traveller’s diarrhea has something to do with his influence, too.)

I never could have predicted that, just days after this conversation, the rest of the world would be sharing these same sentiments across social media. What I’ve learned today—after the news that, at 61, Bourdain was found dead by apparent suicide—is that this rockstar chef’s impact was as far reaching as his palate. The relationship I had with him—a name I’d only ever known from a distance—felt personal. I realize now that many others felt this way too. I’m glad they did. And I hope he knew.

Thank you, Tony, for teaching us to dig deep, celebrate humanity, and always try everything at least once. Here are a few of the lessons you left behind. We won’t forget them. 


Eat whatever you want

“Your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.”


Never stop moving

“If I am an advocate for anything, it is to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. Walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food. It’s a plus for everybody.”


Toss out your itinerary

“I’m a big believer in winging it. I’m a big believer that you’re never going to find perfect city travel experience or the perfect meal without a constant willingness to experience a bad one. Letting the happy accident happen is what a lot of vacation itineraries miss, I think, and I’m always trying to push people to allow those things to happen rather than stick to some rigid itinerary.”


Be a male #MeToo ally

Bourdain has been one of the most vocal male allies of the #MeToo movement. He did what many men couldn’t: he championed victims’ voices while openly reevaluating his own past behaviour. In a Medium essay, Bourdain responded to the allegations against his longtime friend Mario Batali, writing:

“Right now, nothing else matters but women’s stories of what it’s like in the industry I have loved and celebrated for nearly 30 years — and our willingness, as human beings, citizens, men and women alike, to hear them out, fully, and in a way that other women can feel secure enough, and have faith enough that they, too, can tell their stories. We are clearly at a long overdue moment in history where everyone, good hearted or not, will HAVE to look at themselves, the part they played in the past, the things they’ve seen, ignored, accepted as normal, or simply missed — and consider what side of history they want to be on in the future.”


Be curious

“Without experimentation, a willingness to ask questions and try new things, we shall surely become static, repetitive, and moribund.”


Skip the airplane food 

“No one has ever felt better after eating plane food. I think people only eat it because they’re bored. I don’t eat on planes. I like to arrive hungry.”


Take something with you, and leave something behind

“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”