Many others have already more eloquently expressed their grief at the passing of late television host, writer, father, and consummate cool guy Anthony Bourdain. There's not much more I can add to the conversation in words other than my heartfelt condolences for the young daughter, family, friends, and fans he left behind. He was the inspiration for many of my world travels; his books and television shows inspired me to travel to Vietnam, Iceland, Sweden, and other places. The best I can do to express my sadness at his passing is to show the places he inspired me to travel, explore, and connect with.
If it weren't for Bourdain, I would have never thought of traveling to Vietnam. While I had experienced Vietnamese food before reading a Cook's Tour and watching No Reservations, without his nearly rhapsodic passages on pho, bun bo hue, and the warmth, pride, and perseverance of the Vietnamese people, I don't know if I would have ever purchased a plane ticket and traveled halfway across the world to eat noodles. Bourdain opened the non-Western food world up to many white viewers and readers in a way that no previous food journalist had before.
Bourdain hated Iceland when he visited during his first season of No Reservations; it was cold, dark, and he got stuck in a blizzard. Despite his misery, I saw the stark landscape, adorable Icelandic ponies, and the hot dogs, and thought I want to go here. It wasn't a place I had thought all that much about going before. Unlike Bourdain, I loved Iceland and can't wait to visit again.
Now, I didn't go to Sweden because I saw the Sweden episode of No Reservations, but I did go to the historic Restaurant Pelikan, Stockholm's oldest restaurant, because of that episode. After watching Bourdain hang out with a couple of laid back Swedish snowboarders while eating an enormous pork knuckle, I knew I had to check it out while I was in Sweden. I was always impressed by how he could talk to almost anyone.
Anthony Bourdain is not the reason I went to Croatia (I have friends who live there), but Mondo Konoba in Motovun, Croatia is the only other restaurant besides Pelikan that I've eaten at. The Croatia episode is the most recent episode of No Reservations that I re-watched. I was trying to convince my partner to take my friend's offer of staying at their holiday rental over the winter. In this episode, he laments Croatia's lack of a spot in the international food stage, continually asking, "Why isn't this a food destination? Why isn't everyone coming here?" And after eating the best gnocchi in my life covered in a ridiculous amount of truffles, I found myself thinking the same thing.
That's one of the things Bourdain was so good at getting people interested and excited about places that otherwise might not be on their radar. This became even more of his mission when he moved to CNN and started Parts Unknown. It was some of the best journalism and most interesting television on air.
"Without experimentation, a willingness to ask questions and try new things, we shall surely become static, repetitive, and moribund," Anthony Bourdain, Medium Raw.