As news broke about the suicide of Anthony Bourdain Friday morning, chefs across Long Island reacted to the death of a man who changed the way America viewed their profession.
Michael Ginor, owner and executive chef at Lola in Great Neck; founder and co-owner of Hudson Valley Foie Gras, which Bourdain visited on an episode of "No Reservations":
I was stunned, literally stunned. It completely came unexpected to me.
He was the example of the uncelebrated, difficult life of a chef in a restaurant. He was the first to say that he was not the world’s best chef by any stretch. He was the first to say he pales in comparison as a chef compared to Eric [Ripert] and Daniel [Boulud]. People loved his — quote, unquote — straightforwardness.
He was able to conquer some of the demons that many chefs succumb to, which makes this even more tragic.
Thomas Schaudel, whose restaurants include Jewel and Be-Ju in Melville
I’m stunned. He was a very important voice in the industry. [Bourdain] was the soundtrack of life in the kitchen.
Michael Maroni, chef-owner of Maroni Cuisine in Northport
He was an outstanding storyteller, an outstanding communicator of what was going on in different countries. … And he was a really good cook. He never liked to call himself a chef. It’s a complete shock, but in some strange way, I understand. There really were "parts unknown.”
Stephan Bogardus, executive chef at North Fork Table & Inn in Southold
I grew up with him. At CIA [Culinary Institute of America], I read "Kitchen Confidential." He’s a huge part of this generation of cooks.
What he’s given us is a genuine honesty that was missing. He went into the culinary underbelly. He shined some light into the darkness. He brought a transparency to the industry that it hasn’t seen before. A lot of people didn’t think that’s something that should be out there. I think he said, ate and lived the way he wanted.
Marc Bynum, owner and chef at Hush Bistro and MB Ramen in Huntington
He was a very vocal part of what we [chefs] do on a daily basis, shining a light into our world — the good, the bad, the ugly. He made people want to become chefs.
It’s sad. Mental health is real, stress is real. It doesn’t matter if you're a celebrity. Sometimes it just gets the best of people.
Guy Reuge, executive chef of Mirabelle Restaurant and Sandbar in Cold Spring Harbor
I was not a fan of the first book he wrote ["Kitchen Confidential"]; it wasn’t the type of food or attitude in the restaurants where I apprenticed. I didn’t think it was a good representation of what we do.
But my opinion of [Anthony Bourdain] changed a lot over the years. I realized what a talented writer he was, and because of his travels, the way he learned to appreciate all kinds of food, I became a big fan of his. He traveled to some of the weirdest places in the world and ate some of the weirdest foods in the world. Then he would head to Lyon and sit down with Paul Bocuse. He helped chefs to be exposed in a good way. To me, it has always has been intriguing how he forged total appeal — with regular people...as well as with chefs. He was very respected in both worlds.
Adam Kopels, chef-owner of 18 Bay in Shelter Island
“Kitchen Confidential” changed the entire dining culture in America. Everyone read that book, and all of a sudden everyone was interested in what happened in a restaurant kitchen. It was sexy, exciting, dangerous. Serious-minded chefs of the era didn’t appreciate that gritty view of what we do — they thought it was a “Spinal Tap” version of what we do — but I didn’t think the book did that at all.
Bourdain was never known for his cooking. It wasn’t his cooking that influenced other chefs. He used his position to be a champion for American chefs. Eric Ripert. Daniel Boulud. He used his show “No Reservations” to connect the public with their own chefs. One episode, he and Daniel went to France and visited the home Daniel grew up in, cooked with Daniel’s parents. That is the American kitchen’s connection with France.
Elizabeth Ronzetti, chef-owner of 18 Bay in Shelter Island
Then, with his show, “Parts Unknown,” he exposed Americans to dining cultures all over the globe. What could be more powerful than sitting at a dining table in Iran and talking to regular people. He had been given the gift of communication. He was someone who traveled the world, saw all this iniquities and hardship. He must have known how fortunate he was — and yet, there must have been a lot of pain. It’s just a huge loss.
Ralph Perrazzo, chef-owner of BBD’s in Rocky Point
There’s a quote from Anthony Bourdain that always stayed with me: Skills can be taught. Character you either have or you don't have.
This is a brutal loss to education on food, travel and someone calling out the [expletive] that is so thick in the culinary world. More importantly, Bourdain was a down-to-earth guy who loved food and the culinary world. Life is precious and tragedies like this remind you to hold close to the ones you love. A sad day is an understatement.
Raymond Smith, chef-partner of Blacksmith’s Breads in Long Beach
I accepted the challenge that “Kitchen Confidential” posed and I have never looked back or thought I shouldn't do this. Thank you for your contributions, chef. RIP.