Toronto

Anthony Bourdain liked Toronto's food more than its looks, and this city's chefs loved him

Toronto chefs and fans are paying tribute to the celebrity chef, writer and TV host who died on Friday.

Bourdain was a champion of Canadian cuisine and an inspiration for Toronto's top chefs

Anthony Bourdain poses for a photo during an interview with The Canadian Press in Toronto on Monday, October 31, 2016. Bourdain was found dead in his hotel room in France, CNN said Friday. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

As the news of Anthony Bourdain's sudden death sends shockwaves around the world, Toronto chefs and fans are paying tribute to the celebrity chef, writer and TV host.

CNN reported Friday that Bourdain was found dead in his hotel room while on location in France shooting an upcoming episode of his television series Parts Unknown. The cause of death is suicide, CNN said. He was 61.

"It is with extraordinary sadness we can confirm the death of our friend and colleague, Anthony Bourdain," the network said in a statement. "His love of great adventure, new friends, fine food and drink and the remarkable stories of the world made him a unique storyteller."

Culinary layover in Toronto

Bourdain's televised adventures took him around the world, including to Toronto.

In a 2012 episode of The Layover (a precursor to the more well-known Parts Unknown on CNN,) Bourdain took a whirlwind tour of the city showing what a traveller could do in 48 hours. 

He visited restaurants, bars and quirky stores — and didn't mince words about what he thought of the city.  

"It's not a good-looking city. It's not a good-looking town," he said of Toronto. "You've got all the worst architectural fads of the 20th century." 

But for Bourdain, the food may have redeemed the trip. One of his favourite stops was at The Black Hoof on Dundas Street West, where he ate horse tartare and took shots of alcohol through a hollowed beef marrow bone. 

Black Hoof owner Jen Agg said she was devastated when she heard the news.

"I'm so sad for his family. I'm so sad for his friends. I'm so sad for his colleagues. I'm so sad for me," Agg wrote on Twitter.

Scott Vivian was Bourdain's tour guide for the episode. The owner and head chef at Beast Restaurant remained friends with Bourdain over the past few years. Vivian told CBC Radio's Here and Now despite Bourdain's beef with Toronto's architecture, he was excited about Toronto's up-and-coming food landscape.

"When he came, we were still at our younger stages, but he could see the excitement of the Toronto dining scene," said Vivian. "He liked the idea that it had a lot of chef-driven restaurants."

Bourdain's on-air endorsement worked wonders for his restaurant.

"Every time the show airs we get an influx of visitors from the U.S. and other parts of Canada," he said.

Vivian said he will remember Bourdain for his openness and honesty, and for how he treated everyone he met like equals.

"At the end of the day, we're all just cooks," said Vivian. "That's the way he always went about his life."

Anthony Bourdain in Newfoundland while filming a recent episode of CNN's "Parts Unknown." (Twitter/@Bourdain)

'A true legend'

Bourdain's influence goes far beyond those he met during the episode of  The Layover.

"The food and culture landscape was completely transformed by his ideas," wrote chef Matt Basile of Lisa Marie's restaurant and street food company Fidel Gastro's on Instagram.

"The stories he told about people and places will forever leave an impact on me and the world."

Bertrand Alépée, pastry chef at The Tempered Room in Parkdale, posted a picture of himself with Bourdain, along with the caption: "We lost a true legend today. Thank you for inspiring us with your true passion and curiosity for food and the culinary world."

Condolences also poured in from Torontonians who admired his shows, and those who were inspired to eat at restaurants Bourdain recommended.

Bourdain worked as a chef in New York kitchens for decades. He first came to prominence outside of the culinary world for a New Yorker article on the underbelly of life in restaurant kitchens, and then with his New York Times bestselling book "Kitchen Confidential." 

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