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The food world mourns Anthony Bourdain

Fans turn to social media to remember a man who touched many lives

Fans of Anthony Bourdain around the globe took to social media in an embrace of the chef, author and television host, who over the years had had an impact on so many.

Bourdain died on Friday, age 61, due to an apparent suicide.

Related: Bourdain’s brash, unfiltered tongue was adored by legions of fans

Bourdain was described as fearless, infinitely curious and authentic — a truth teller who cut through what he identified as “bullshit.”

He was praised as an advocate for the #metoo movement and a champion for the rights of immigrants. But, mostly, he inspired a generation with his truly genuine interest in food and other cultures, and the way gathering around a table to eat brought people together.

Bourdain’s girlfriend Asia Argento, who posted a statement on Twitter, said, “Anthony gave all of himself in everything that he did. His brilliant, fearless spirit touched and inspired so many, and his generosity knew no bounds. He was my love, my rock, my protector. I am beyond devastated. My thoughts are with his family. I would ask that you respect their privacy and mine.”

Prominent people across all walks of life offered their condolences and memories of Bourdain. He was called the “The Lou Reed of Food,” a “Culinary Hemingway,” and a great storyteller who could see magic in the mundane.

Bourdain in recent years reportedly had been working to open a food hall in New York’s Pier 57, but the highly anticipated venue never came to fruition

Though it had been years since the former Brasserie Les Halles chef worked on a regular basis in a restaurant kitchen, he was considered by chefs around the world as one of their own.

Here’s a look at how chefs and restaurateurs around the country — from the well-known to the lesser known — reacted, including the chef Eric Ripert, a close friend who found Bourdain dead in his hotel room in France:

Others pointed to the fact that Bourdain’s interests went well beyond food.

Ben Rhodes, for example, author of a memoir about the Obama White House, credited Bourdain with helping to secure funding to remove unexploded bombs in Laos. 

Andrew Rigie, executive director of the New York City Hospitality Alliance, said in a statement that the city’s hospitality community was shaken by the news of Bourdain’s passing.

“He put deserving restaurants all over the world on the map through ‘Parts Unknown.’ His loss is one that will be felt for many years to come. Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones. This is a very sad day for our industry and reminds us that suicide affects people in all industries and ours is no exception.” 

Alan Liddle, senior data and events editor at Nation’s Restaurant News, remembered interviewing Bourdain for a podcast about a decade ago, saying the seemingly tough and brusque New Yorker was surprisingly low key in person, and spoke intelligently and thoughtfully on a wide-range of topics, from the farm-to-fork movement to food safety and immigration. 

Bret Thorn, senior food-and-beverage editor for Nation’s Restaurant News, also recalled an interview with Bourdain, saying he was surprised by the industry’s reaction to his piece in the New Yorker that got him the book deal for “Kitchen Confidential.”

“I interviewed him between when the article and the book came out, mostly because, as a writer who had once thought of becoming a chef, I wanted to meet a chef who was also a writer. The industry took it as an exposé, but to him it was a fond remembrance.

“I asked him about cooking and writing, because to me they were opposites: Eating uses all five senses, whereas writing isn’t dependent on any single sense (you can use your eyes or ears or fingers, if it’s in Braille, but it’s not the sense you use that matters). But to Bourdain they were similar: They were both about showing up and working really hard.”

If you or anyone you know is considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected]

Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout

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