A few weeks ago, chef’s Éric Ripert and José Andrés, posted on instagram, calling for June 25th to be named Anthony Bourdain Day, Tony’s birthday. Last year, Anthony Bourdain lost his battle with depression, and died of suicide, leaving the world stunned. Bourdain is more than a celebrity known for traveling the world and eating weird things. In the restaurant industry, he was a cultural icon, the moral fiber of an entire industry, and one of the most significant people to ever don an apron. He was the reason many kids became cooks, and the reason why many did not. His first book, Kitchen Confidential, was a New York Times Bestseller, and blew the roof off a once secretive subculture that is the restaurant industry. Here are three easy ways to celebrate the life of this wonderful, but complicated man.
Eat something you normally wouldn’t
It goes without saying that one of the things Bourdain was most well known for was his willingness to try almost anything. He was starved for new experiences, and traveled the world trying to soak up all that it had to offer. Now, we’re not saying go out and eat crickets, but there are a lot of foods out there that get a bad wrap. Offal, or “variety meats,” are the less desirable cuts of protein that are often discarded. There are many sausages, pates and treats out there that would be a great option. It's also sustainable, and makes sure the entire animal is used. If that’s a little too adventurous for you, go with kale.
The world is your oyster, look around where you currently live; Have you fully explored the region where you currently live? Try that new restaurant, go to the city, explore and breath in the world around you. Don’t put off travel, saying “I’ll do it next year.” It doesn’t have to be another country, it doesn’t even have to be another state, just make sure you get out and explore the world. Just be careful; it’s addictive.
For those in the restaurant industry, we know that depression is a rampant mental health issue. The nature of the industry often pushes those towards it. Long hours, 6 or 7 day work weeks, substance abuse, unrelenting stress, stress on relationships, weird hours, all contribute to the cocktail that can lead to depression. In this industry, it's important to look around, and make sure your colleagues are okay. A restaurant is a hard place, and it's hard to talk about “emotions and stuff.” The business encourages you to be tough, but it is important to share your stories. For me, one of the reasons I actually stopped cooking professionally is because I could feel depression taking root in my mind. Going from day to day not seeing another human because of the odd hours has a weird effect on your mind. I was working 6-7 days a week at the time, and felt locked into the station that I was currently working. I was often way too hard on myself; if my knife cuts, mise en place, and station weren’t perfect, I would hate myself. I never felt that I could talk about how I felt with the other cooks I worked with, that it would show some sort of vulnerability. It was a dark time and my 2AM drives home were a scary place. Thankfully I knew that I needed to make a change before it got worse. If you, or someone you know is struggling emotionally or having a hard time, you can be the difference in getting them the help they need. It’s important to take care of yourself even when you are supporting someone through a difficult time, as this may stir up difficult emotions. If it does, please reach out for support for yourself such as using the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (800-273-8255).
Let’s celebrate Anthony Bourdain Day not just by exploring and trying new things, but by showing our support of each other!