One of the most influential chefs in the world, Anthony Bourdain was the executive chef at Brasserie Les Halles in NYC, published multiple books, hosted Parts Unknown on CNN, hosted the Travel Channel's culinary and cultural adventure program No Reservations, and even wrote fiction and historical nonfiction. Today, we tragically say goodbye to this culinary hero.
A native New Yorker, Bourdain was born on June 25, 1956; his parents were Pierre Bourdain, a classical music industry executive for Columbia Records and Gladys Bourdain, a staff editor for the New York Times. He dropped out of Vassar College and started working in seafood restaurants in Provincentown, MA, then decided to attend the Culinary Institute of America, graduating in 1978.
Bourdain is known as the “culinary bad boy” and introduced the world to exotic local specialty dishes such as sheep testicles in Morocco and ant eggs in Mexico. While he kept his viewers feeling exhilarated by his culinary and travel adventures, Bourdain was also an advocate for fighting food waste and according to the NY Times, he specifically wanted to educate “inefficient home cooks, people who rely solely on restaurant food, those who don’t compost and grocery stores.” If you haven’t seen it yet, we recommend checking out the movie Wasted! The Story of Food Waste which is narrated by Anthony Bourdain and sheds light on many food waste issues; our very own Local Roots teammate Emily makes a cameo in the film harvesting vegetables with Blue Hill.
Bourdain states, “Go to any major chain supermarket and think about that tower of perfectly stacked, impeccable oranges or tomatoes, and understand that the supermarket by design has already figured and costed-out the fact — the immutable fact — that they will throw 30 percent in the garbage just so it will look cool,” he said. “This is horrifying.”
A tragic end to his life, we want to celebrate this fierce chef and advocate for his accomplishments, and the ways he will inspire the food community to be more daring in the kitchen, cook more sustainably, and reconnect ourselves with our culinary traditions and heritage.
We would like to offer some resources for anyone who is thinking of self-harm, provided to us by a member who has been a long-time suicide prevention volunteer:
This week, we're offering our Local Roots members whole chicken as well as fennel; try making Bourdain's Korean Fried Chicken or the recipe found below.
Fennel and Tomato Soup
adapted from Bourdain’s "Les Halles Cookbook"
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4-6 petite fennel bulbs, thinly sliced
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small potato, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1 8-ounce can plum tomatoes
6 cups light chicken stock or broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat and add the fennel, onion and potato. Reduce the heat to medium low and let the vegetables sweat for 10 minutes, taking care to not let them brown. Add the tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes more. Stir in the chicken stock, bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 1 hour.
Remove the pot from the heat and let the soup cool for a few minutes. Transfer the mix to a blender and, working in batches to avoid accidents, puree until smooth. Return to the pot, bring to a boil, lower to a simmer and season with salt and pepper.
Improvisation: You can boost the flavor elements by adding a few slices of garlic with the vegetables at the beginning and a few drops of Pernod at the very end. You can also get cute by garnishing each bowl with a few bits of diced tomato and a drop or two of basil or parsley oil.