How can I even begin to describe the feelings that are crushing down on me right now? Never have there been words written or spoken by a single person that have so drastically affected the course of my life. I can honestly say I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for the work of Anthony Bourdain
I was a lost young soul when I got a copy of Kitchen Confidential. I knew I liked cooking, I enjoyed my little restaurant job. I had no idea the world that was opening to me. That book was a revelation. It did such an amazing job of inspiring me to be better, terrifying me of failure, and it gave value to a profession that would ultimately change who I was.
I can’t count how many times I have gone back to reread it. I could always find the right chapter or paragraph to relate to how I was feeling in a particular moment. He helped me when I got fired. He stood up for me when I was bullied. He valued me when I was made to feel worthless. Most importantly he found a way out. We aren’t all built for a life in the kitchen. It doesn’t diminish our love of food, our respect for the craft or our desire to learn and experience. It is simply a tough racket.
Being a cook made me the person I am today. It toughened me up. But it also taught me about kindness and hospitality. It gave me the confidence to be able to create joy for others. I had the chance to shake Tony’s hand and tell him what the book meant to me at a reading in 2007. My mom came with me. She tried to be sneaky and snap a picture of us together knowing I didn’t really want her to. He saw and asked, “Is that lady with the camera your mom?” I sheepishly acknowledged her. He smiled, waved to her and said, “Sorry for ruining your little boy, mom!”
You didn’t ruin me Tony. You made me better. You made a lot of my friends better. I think you made the world better. I’m sorry it couldn’t make you better.