The Green Room
I'm genuinely shocked and saddened, as I believe are many others around the world, that Anthony Bourdain, at the height of his fame and success, chose to take is own life in a Strasbourg Hotel, whilst filming for a new series of his hit show, "Parts Unknown".
In the wake of other notable suicides in recent times, designer Kate Spade, and musicians Avicii and Chris Cornell, American networks are predictable abuzz with opinion-makers and influencers thrusting themselves into the limelight, calling for closer attention to the warning signs, and other options open to those who might potentially succumb to the depths of depression.
All that said, Anthony Bourdain's tragic death is a shocker.
I have always since childhood, had a fascination with TV chefs, and indeed in the UK, we have has so many notable faces, from Fanny Craddock & Johnny, through the Galloping Gourmet & Ken Homm, the blissfully boozy Keith Floyd, to contemporary chefs including Hester Blumenthal & the insufferable Gordon Ramsey, and novelty presenters like Andrew Zimmern. As a family, we've sat through countless episodes of Master Chef, and Jamie Oliver feels almost like an extension of the family.
But not withstanding of this exposure, Bourdain for me went far beyond the foodie thing.
His stance has always been distinctly rock & roll; a no reservations, no holds barred dive into the experience of life, with which I felt a powerful affinity. Travel, food, drinking & experiencing, are all part of the pleasure of being on this earth, and a pay-off for the many more painful aspects.
When someone takes their own life, those more painful aspects have clearly overhauled everything which makes it all worth while. Everyone I think, has faced these moments when you weigh it all up. I have, and the answer was yes; we'll give it another spin of the glass... you never know. This was what I was certain, would have been AB's standpoint, especially have fought through drug-abuse and a life of pretty hard toil, without seeing great results until "Kitchen Confidential" changed his life overnight, at the age of 44.
So were these elements personal or a comment on a society which he had seen right up close, and possibly so offended what I believe to be a super sensitive side to the guy, that he saw no sense in what he was doing or where he was going.
The was genuine grief and shock visible among his CNN colleagues over this week-end, as well as the regular thud of band-wagon jumpers, finding their space. This short piece doesn't go nearly far enough to describe my personal feelings on the fact, rather like an esteemed teacher being unveiled as a fraud. It leaves a gap... how could a guy who took life on, warts and all, enjoyed and lived it to the full, just want out ? We'll never know. There is a great deal of Anthony's humour, drive and personality, in his last interview conducted by Fast Company, which I recommend:
I can only hope that he's found peace wherever it is that we go when we do throw in our hand and check out of this complicated and cruel life. Take care Tony.