When Anthony Bourdain went to a Waffle House for the first time

The news today has multiple stories about chef Anthony Bourdain who committed suicide in Paris at the age of 61. I am not a foodie, never watch cooking shows, and had never heard of Bourdain until he recently appeared on a TV show (I think The Daily Show) to talk about the #MeToo movement and distance himself from his chef friends like Mario Batali for their acts of sexual abuse. He also made an apologia, not because he himself had done anything on those lines (he said that he had not tolerated such things in the kitchens he ran) but because he felt that the fact that the women he knew (even his girl friend Asia Argento) had not confided in him with their horror stories was a sign that he was not seen as an ally.

I am unlikely to ever visit the kinds of places that Bourdain ate at but there is one where I have eaten. In 2015, he went to a Waffle House for the first time, accompanied by South Carolina chef Sean Brock who said that it was eating at this chain that inspired him to become a chef because the open kitchen arrangement meant that he could actually see how food was prepared.

Bourdain seemed like a good sport, open to all people and experiences, who did not take things too seriously. He seemed like a charming and engaging person and the tributes have come thick and fast, mixed with shock that someone who seemed to have it all and have everything so together could harbor demons that would end up making him take his own life. His death is a sobering reminder that we cannot say what is going on inside the mind of a person even when we think we know them well.


  1. Trickster Goddess says

    There is a move to encourage people to stop saying “committed suicide” and instead use the phrase “died by suicide”.

    “Committed” usually refers to doing a criminal act, and its use here is a legacy of times when suicide was a crime. Continuing to use the outdated phrase contributes to the stigma around suicide and mental health.


  2. Mano Singham says

    Thanks for this heads up. I had not been sensitive to the stigma that the phrase connotes. I will try to remember to use the alternative in future.

    In the post at the end I used the phrase ‘take his own life’. I was wondering if that was an acceptable alternative as well.

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