Chef Edward Lee: Bourdain changed my life

Anthony Bourdain was universally adored for his writing, his wit and swagger, his bitter intelligence, his sarcasm an...

Posted: Jun 10, 2018 4:05 PM
Updated: Jun 10, 2018 4:05 PM

Anthony Bourdain was universally adored for his writing, his wit and swagger, his bitter intelligence, his sarcasm and his refreshingly honest vision of the world. It was as nuanced and tender as it was grim and sardonic. Tony gave us a world that we didn't know we needed. He gave us stories of people we didn't know we loved. He gave us the meat and the juice and never spared us the gristle, the cartilage and blood. He gave us his time and energy and thoughtfulness. He gave us a humanity we sometimes didn't deserve.

When I was a virtual nobody, he helped me -- with books, with TV, with advice, with a food documentary which, to this day, is the work I am most proud of. He was a complex person and the public will remember him in many varied ways. I will remember him as a kind man who wanted to help bring others into the light. A young chef, a struggling business, a food hawker, a musician, an activist or even a homeless person -- Tony's broad vision of humanity included them all. His influence was, and is, staggering.

I remember the first time I met him. My agent, Kim Witherspoon, called me to come to a charity function he was hosting, for The Bronx Letters Foundation (where Kim is on the board). It is a charity that provides financial support for extracurricular programming like a school newspaper, literary magazine, college visits and more for the Bronx Academy of Letters.

It was very dear to Tony. As soon as Kim introduced us, she got an emergency call and had to run out. Left alone with a star, I was nervous -- and whenever I get nervous, I start to prattle on with a story that goes on forever. The emcee called Tony to the stage to make a speech while I was still talking. He looked at me with his piercing eyes and said, "Hold that thought." I stood there, in jeans and a T-shirt amidst a crowd of tuxedos and gowns, for an eternity.

When the auction began later on, Tony was standing next to me. The first item up for bid was a scholarship for a young student in the Bronx trying to study in London. No one bid on it. The auctioneer started to beg. Tony stood there, vibrating with anger and cursing under his breadth at the "f*****g cheapskates."

No one else could hear him, but I could. He wasn't aiming his ire at me but I couldn't stand it anymore. I raised my hand. I think it was $5,000, or at least that's what I remember. I know I didn't have the money to spare. Tony looked at me with equal parts confusion and rage. He rushed back to the stage, ripped the mic out of the auctioneer's hand and yelled at the crowd for not opening their wallets when "this chef from Kentucky who clearly does not make a lot of money," just did.

I believe they raised a bunch of money that night. I never did get to finish that story I was telling Tony. I never did get to thank him for everything he has done for me and for the world -- for all of us who are curious and hungry and adventurous and wanting more out of this life than our day-to-day routine can provide. He gave that to us in spades.

In a distant future, when we look back at this era, at all its chatter and noise, we will dust off the infinite clutter of nonsense, and we will truly see Anthony Bourdain for what he was: a muse who showed us the best of what humankind can be.

In his honor, I will be making a charitable donation to The Bronx Letters Foundation. We will miss you dearly, Mr. Bourdain.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 318894

Reported Deaths: 5561
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion43391855
Lake27599462
Allen18363299
Elkhart17474226
St. Joseph17071234
Hamilton13376169
Vanderburgh9839121
Tippecanoe880629
Porter844886
Johnson6556169
Hendricks6267158
Vigo618187
Monroe542850
Clark522877
Madison5153122
Delaware5014103
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Kosciusko468540
Howard357977
Warrick329872
Floyd324978
Bartholomew323563
Wayne318074
Marshall308146
Cass302631
Grant282050
Noble261546
Hancock260355
Henry252837
Boone248754
Dubois242931
Dearborn222631
Jackson222534
Morgan215543
Knox189720
Shelby189556
Gibson189426
Clinton182121
DeKalb181632
Lawrence179748
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Scott112320
Greene104653
Jay100713
Sullivan99216
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Spencer8588
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Washington7837
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Union2752
Switzerland2605
Warren2542
Ohio2337
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Ohio Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 382743

Reported Deaths: 6274
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin51161671
Cuyahoga37222743
Hamilton30493372
Montgomery20518236
Butler15199148
Lucas14566417
Summit13933327
Stark9193206
Warren841976
Mahoning7530300
Lake710067
Lorain6690106
Clermont593651
Delaware572537
Licking564577
Trumbull5584147
Fairfield554464
Greene538066
Clark5218101
Allen494989
Marion476759
Medina471657
Wood4598107
Miami437568
Pickaway404048
Portage358972
Columbiana357698
Tuscarawas342667
Richland328539
Wayne327394
Mercer296047
Muskingum252510
Hancock245940
Ross244559
Auglaize236435
Darke232560
Erie230268
Putnam229449
Ashtabula228354
Geauga211851
Scioto200616
Union19668
Shelby194017
Lawrence193039
Athens19134
Seneca182919
Belmont170229
Madison163119
Sandusky157729
Preble156521
Huron155519
Defiance144823
Holmes140439
Logan133517
Knox131718
Fulton128726
Jefferson128613
Crawford126817
Washington125227
Ottawa124530
Clinton109115
Williams10799
Ashland107825
Highland103718
Brown10135
Henry101323
Hardin99719
Champaign9825
Van Wert97318
Jackson96212
Fayette92717
Morrow9202
Guernsey89314
Coshocton85215
Perry82912
Adams80313
Pike7661
Gallia76513
Wyandot73217
Paulding66511
Hocking64516
Noble62224
Carroll48810
Meigs39612
Monroe32321
Morgan2685
Vinton2246
Harrison2193
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