A Cook's Heart

"As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life — and travel — leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks — on your body or on your heart — are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.” - Anthony Bourdain

Trying to write about a hero is something that has continually eluded me, and certainly becomes more difficult for this heartbreaking reason. I want to shower his memory with accolades. What a brilliant writer Anthony Bourdain was, how he connected people to the world, and how he found a way to stay true to himself even when corporate forces tried to manipulate his perspective. Really though, in the wake of his passing, what I am thinking about is how he made me, and I know many others, closer to other human beings in this world through his writing and his documentary television series. In 2000, he introduced us to the inside of the restaurant industry in Kitchen Confidential, and I still never order fish on Mondays. Then he started to take us along on his journey through the world’s beautiful underbelly in 2002’s, A Cook’s Tour. I feel confident that Tony helped to start the movement of exploring and cherishing global cuisine. Perpetuating the idea that we truly get to know one another over a home cooked meal, he let us know that we have nothing to fear about our differences. He took gonzo journalism and he gave it a heart. 

There are episodes of Parts Unknown I watch over and over again. Planning to travel to Cuba, I watched this episode on repeat as he shed light on a place many can only dream of visiting. I never would assume that Iggy Pop would be one to retire in sunny Florida until I saw his episode in Miami. His respectful and curious investigation of the cultural amalgam of Los Angeles, which had to be a tall order for a tried and true New Yorker. 

Beyond showing attractions and experiences, Bourdain had a unbelievably unique way of connecting to people, and this was often through the thing that unites all of us, food. He ended many of the episodes of his show with a big dinner, with those he connected with during the episode, his crew, friends and family. Through him we were shown that gathering, cooking and drinking together, is one of the most sincerely beautiful human experiences. 

Going forward I have been reflecting on how his work has impacted me. This morning I read about his favorite books in the New York Times, and as I would hope any Bourdain interview would go, his most despised books. I know Eve Babitz has been on my list for a while, so I think now is the time to dive in. 

There has also been a great deal of posting around his cause of death, and many postings about the need for finding help and reaching out when you are struggling with mental health. I know as someone that struggles with my mental health as well, that often the hardest part is the unimaginable effort and strength it takes to ask for and obtain help. As someone who has the privilege of getting help and being surrounded by support when I need it, I know the first step is the hardest part. I am moving towards the understanding that mental health is a journey, that it can flip on a dime, but that I also cannot do it alone. 

Know that you are seen. 

If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Suicide Prevention hotline at 1-800-273-8255.

Written by Hana on June 8, 2018


Kat on June 8, 2018


Thank you for this. Very well said, he will be missed.

Cindy on June 8, 2018


Beautiful post for this melancholy day. Bourdain touched many lives.

MelissaK on June 8, 2018


Well done, Hana. Thank you for writing this.

Alicia on June 8, 2018


A beautiful tribute.


Crying. Thank you.

Stan Current on June 8, 2018


Thank You Hana for your beautiful and powerful tribute to one of the finest human beings who walked this planet, inspiring us to do the same.

More importantly, to reach out, call or text someone who can help should we feel a need to leave. This life can be too much for anyone at anytime. Certain psychic forces can make it worse, as Jung saw. Actually, Buddha saw this long before when assailed from within as Joseph Campbell reminded us.

I know for myself how important it is to love and care for oneself in the face of any adversity and trust there is a higher power that will see us thru. Jung was right, confirming what prophets have long taught, especially Jesus, whom Joseph Campbell eloquently described as The Hero With A Thousand Faces: there is light in the darkness and Symbols of Transformation. It's how our lives can be renewed. It's why I'm still here and many others.

We need to do all we can to help one another without adding to anyone's misery.

Many Blessings to you Hana, for this wonderful and powerful tribute to Anthony Bourdain. And to seek help should life ever get to be too much.

Rebekah on June 8, 2018


This is a beautiful reflection. Thank you.

Michelle J. on June 8, 2018


Thank you, Hana.

L. Ramos on June 11, 2018


Beautifully said. Thank you, Hana.