Anthony Bourdain was a dream dinner guest, Winnipeg foodie remembers
'If there was one person that I could have chosen to have a meal with, I did it,' says former food columnist
Brandon Boone was lucky enough to dine with his dream dinner guest.
The Winnipeg foodie shared a meal with Anthony Bourdain, the celebrity chef and travel host who died Friday at 61.
"In my perfect world, if there was one person that I could have chosen to have a meal with, I did it," said Boone, the former Flavours Magazine editor and CBC food columnist.
"That kind of checked the box," he said. "After that, I don't think there was anyone else that could have given me that kind of culinary stardom experience that he did."
Bourdain, a renowned cook who travelled the world exploring cuisine and culture, died by suicide. He was found unresponsive Friday morning by friend and chef Eric Ripert, according to CNN, which airs Bourdain's multiple Emmy-winning series Parts Unknown.
Bourdain had been in the northeastern French town of Kaysersberg working on an upcoming episode of his program.
"His love of great adventure, new friends, fine food and drink and the remarkable stories of the world made him a unique storyteller," CNN said in a statement on Friday.
"His talents never ceased to amaze us and we will miss him very much. Our thoughts and prayers are with his daughter and family at this incredibly difficult time."
His death shocked food enthusiasts around the world.
Boone, who now works in public relations, interviewed him in 2006 when Bourdain visited Winnipeg on a book tour.
They met in the kitchen of the former Osborne eatery Bistro 7¼. They cooked one of Bourdain's signature dishes, steak and frites, and dined together.
He was down to earth, Boone remembers.
"People say this all the time: 'I think we'd be best friends if we were together in real life.' I really had that feeling after he left. I felt like calling him up next time and saying, 'Do you want to hang out?'"
Though they didn't meet again, they messaged each other on social media.
Boone asked the occasional question about cooking and the world-famous chef graciously replied.
He was in awe of the places Bourdain visited, the food he tasted and the people he met.
"After meeting the guy and following his social media feeds, it seemed like he had the perfect job, the perfect life," said Boone. "The world was his oyster, to use a food metaphor."
His impact on the cooking scene was immeasurable, Boone said. Hardly a chef had not heard of him or followed a piece of his advice.
Boone looked up to him.
"And now that he's gone, what do you do? I'm not sure who will fill that void."
Bourdain rose through the New York restaurant ranks and eventually branched out to other cities.
He began to gain wider public attention with the release of Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, a book published in 2000, and the followup the next year, Cook's Tour: In Search of the Perfect Meal Country.
Bourdain was honest in retelling his struggles with heroin addiction.
As he landed television opportunities, he became known for his acerbic style, admitting to CBC he had honed a role as a "provocateur."
Parts Unknown took Bourdain around the globe. At each stop, he would delve into the regional culture and sample the cuisine, typically led by local experts. Last fall, he was spotted in Newfoundland and Labrador and the nearby French islands of St-Pierre-Miquelon.
He took the intersection of food, culture and politics seriously, preferring to visit local markets and food stalls rather than high-end restaurants.
Bourdain said in a 2016 interview he was "dismayed" at a recent tide in the world of xenophobia and anti-migrant sentiment.
"If you travel as long as I have and as much as I have, and you meet as many people and spend time with them, in countries that we're supposed to hate and who are supposed to hate us, when you see how mostly similar people are, particularly when sitting around a table, it makes it very, very hard [to see]," he said.
He had recently been dating Italian actor-filmmaker Asia Argento, one of the prominent accusers of film producer Harvey Weinstein, and had become a strong defender of the #MeToo movement.
"Anthony gave all of himself in everything that he did," she wrote in a brief statement online. "He was my love, my rock, my protector. I am beyond devastated."
If you're experiencing suicidal thoughts or having a mental health crisis, there is help out there. Contact the Manitoba Suicide Line toll-free at 1-877-435-7170 (1-877-HELP-170) or the Kids Help Phone at 1-800-688-6868.
With files from CBC's Meaghan Ketcheson, Reuters and The Associated Press