This is a reprint of the author’s post originally published on his Facebook profile on 8 June 2019 a year after chef and storyteller Anthony Bourdain hanged himself.
Today is the first year since my favorite storyteller Anthony Bourdain killed himself. Some see him as a case study for suicide. I think he was one of the greatest essayist, and storyteller who ever lived. I wrote this essay to honor him.
He helped me see a glimmer of light when I was in a dark place.
A really dark place.
Thank you, Tony.
Tony was my nanny
I was broken, beaten, busted when Anthony Bourdain became my nanny.
In the summer of 2015, I had a stroke that took me out of my job as a reporter in Manila, and brought me back to Bacolod.
I was in low spirits.
I worked non-stop since I was 17, moving from radio to print then to my dream job in the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, taken together a career that spanned 25 years.
I was a Manila-based journalist when Tony made his shift to CNN with his “Parts Unknown” show. This marked his transition to becoming a journalist from his being a celebrity chef and author.
I first knew him through cooking shows he guested in then I read his book Kitchen Confidential.
Once, while reading the book drunk and struggling to sleep in my apartment, I scared the bejesus out of my flatmate when I laughed like a lunatic in the middle of the night.
It was Bourdain’s fault.
His dark humor to be more precise.
Once, he wrote, while he was starting as a cook, he and a fellow chef overdid a dish “with dried
Szechuan peppers that we could hear the muffled wails of pain from the next room.”
I howled like a madman. Schadenfreude.
Then this: as they were preparing for the worst in a catering “should the unthinkable happen, we were obliged, like Japanese naval officers, to take our own lives. ‘Or like Vatel,’ (Dimitri, his fellow chef) submitted, ‘he ran himself on his sword over a late fish delivery. It’s the least we could do.’ In the end we agreed that should our Coliseum of Seafood Blanquette fall, we’d simply walk quietly out the door and into the bay to drown ourselves.”
I howled again in laughter at 3 in the morning.
It was that dark, self-effacing humor that endeared Bourdain to me.
From then on, in between the daily drinking bouts with friends, and the few hours of sleep before work, I read and watched Bourdain.