Remembering Anthony Bourdain

In 2003 — after reading “Kitchen Confidential” for the umpteenth time. I finally made it to Brasserie Les Halles in New York. Tony had long since stopped cooking there and was, I think, “Executive Chef” — a title upon which, if I recall correctly, he unloaded much deserved derision.

People look at notes and flowers left for the late CNN host and chef Anthony Bourdain in front of the now-closed restaurant, Les Halles. I remember the onion soup — superb and also the chefs, they seemed to be all Hispanic which, if you know your KC, means tough, mean and dedicated. Also, there was a mini butcher’s display immediately in front of you as you went in the door. A nice touch which had the added benefit of scaring away vegetarians.

A few years later, in 2006, I had just started at the BBC World Service and the boss wanted someone to react to the news that New York’s health commissioner was about to ban trans fats in the city’s restaurants. I began to mull over the usual suspects: over-earnest health and safety campaigners, snobbish food critics, dreary jobsworths from the restaurants association etc etc but in the end I decided to try and get someone who wouldn’t necessarily be jumping for joy.

I remember how an e-Mail sent off more in hope than expectation to Tony’s publicist was met with a positive response. The result was this brilliant interview by the one and only Roger Hearing. It ends with a great quote which is as good an epitaph as any for the greatest ever hoodlum-turned-writer-turned-chef-turned-food-guru:

“Unaged cheeses from Europe. Flower peppers from China. Cute little game birds from France. Stinky cheeses from Sardinia. Things like that. Good stuff!”

 

 

 

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