Q

'Be kind, be nice, be sweet': Montreal restaurateur on the best advice Anthony Bourdain ever gave him

Montreal chef and restaurateur David McMillan talks about the life and legacy of his friend Anthony Bourdain, who has died at the age of 61.

Joe Beef co-owner David McMillan first met Parts Unknown star, Kitchen Confidential author in 2000

Anthony Bourdain, the celebrity chef who took foodies around the world as part of his travelogue programs, has died at age 61, CNN said Friday. (Andy Kropa/Invision/AP)
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Montreal chef David McMillan's memories of Anthony Bourdain are dominated by his affability and blunt approach to doling out advice in the kitchen.

"Tony was approachable to anybody, would speak to everybody, he would drink with everybody," he told q. "It was a beautiful thing to see. It was very human."

Bourdain, a celebrity chef and storyteller, died at the age of 61, according to CNN. His body was found in a hotel room in France, where he was working on an episode of his show Parts Unknown. CNN said the cause of death was suicide.

Early on in his career, Bourdain was often branded a "bad boy chef" — a label that he found ridiculous. He broke out with the book Kitchen Confidential, a look at the dark underbelly of the restaurant industry.

Bourdain spoke openly about topics that other chefs would only whisper about: drug addiction and sex in the kitchen, or what it's really like being a dishwasher or a line cook. That book was an instant hit, and so was Bourdain.

McMillan, co-owner of the restaurant Joe Beef, first met Bourdain when he was in Montreal promoting Kitchen Confidential in 2000.

"I think he showed up at Liverpool House, the restaurant next to Joe Beef, with a suitcase full of books," McMillan said. "I think we had like 20 chefs at the restaurant that night. We made a small dinner and we sat at the bar and had too many drinks."

The one thing that stuck to me, and I use it still in the kitchen today … 'Don't be a shit person.'- David McMillan

That night was before Bourdain's "ascension" into the upper echelon of celebrity in the food world, McMillan said. But he never forgot the people he met along the way, even as he approached superstardom.

Montreal chef David McMillan and Anthony Bourdain chat on the set of CNN's Parts Unknown. The two were longtime friends, having first met in 2000, when Bourdain released his book Kitchen Confidential. (CNN/Parts Unknown )

"As he ascended, Tony was very kind and brought everybody along with him. David Chang in New York, us in Montreal. ... It was a good ride, you know, we owe him a lot. And anybody who was involved with him owes him a lot," he said.

McMillan still remembers the best advice Bourdain ever gave him.

"The one thing that stuck to me, and I use it still in the kitchen today … 'Don't be a shit person,'" he recalled.

"I know it a simple-minded thing to say, but for a bunch of pirates that work in kitchens, boys and girls that don't really have much education, really, you know, drop out of high school, go to cooking school, work in the kitchen, don't be a shit person rings true to a lot of the kids on the line. Be kind, be nice, be sweet. This kitchen life is already difficult, so let's not be evil to each other."

Click the Listen link above to hear McMillan talk to Tom Power about Bourdain's life and legacy.

This segment was produced by Vanessa Greco.

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