Today, June 25th, 2019 marks the inaugural “Bourdain Day” — celebrating the life of the late great chef/ vagabond on what would’ve been his 63rd birthday. Just one year and change after Anthony Bourdain’s tragic death, longtime friends and fellow celebrity chefs Eric Ripert and José Andrés are asking fans to celebrate the famed “enthusiast” by raising a glass of beer, wine, water, or whatever else they feel like tipping back to offer salutations to a man who always sought to genuinely understand the world we all share.
In short, they want everyone to “Toast Tony.”
“I suffered so much grief after what happened that I only hope people will turn all that grief into happiness of life, and remember how Tony made the world a smaller place by bringing us all together,” Andrés told Esquire, adding, “I hope that… people will go, will enjoy life, will have a drink. They will cook, they will go to a food truck. They will go to a picnic. They will go to a street vendor. A hot dog, a fancy restaurant, whatever.”
So, let’s do that. In honor of #BourdainDay, we beseech you to ignore Postmates for a second and venture out on the street. Explore your community by patronizing someplace you’ve never visited before. Order a round for a stranger while you’re at it. It’s what Bourdain truly wanted for all of us — to break out of the rigidity of our daily lives and invite the sorts of happy accidents that he specialized in.
Need more motivation and inspiration to get offline and head out into the real world? We’ve compiled all the best travel, food, and life advice from Anthony Bourdain below.
PART I: Traveling Like Bourdain
Anthony Bourdain was a man of many talents — celebrity chef, author, journalist, martial artist — but we perhaps know him best as a traveler, here’s why:
First step, Get Out Into The World
“If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. The extent to which you can walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food, it’s a plus for everybody. Open your mind, get up off the couch, move.”
This quote from No Reservations is one of Bourdain’s most cited quotes and for good reason. Sometimes our biggest obstacle is having the will to just get up and do something, don’t let the prospect of planning hold you back, sometimes it’s best to not have plans at all.
Throw The Itinerary Out The Window
“You’re never going to find the perfect city travel experience or the perfect meal without a constant willingness to experience a bad one. Letting the happy accident happen is what a lot of vacation itineraries miss, I think, and I’m always trying to push people to allow those things to happen rather than stick to some rigid itinerary.”
Anthony Bourdain was always trying to stress how important the freedom that you gained from ditching your itinerary was. It opens you up to experiences that are genuinely unique. After all, millions of people visit the Louvre every year, but it’s the time you spend outside of the tourist network that sticks in your mind.
In an interview with Money.com, he said, “The sort of frenzied compression of time needed to take the tour, to see the sights, keeps you in a bubble that prevents you from having magic happen to you. Nothing unexpected or wonderful is likely to happen if you have an itinerary in Paris filled with the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower.”
“It’s those little human moments that are the ones that stick with you forever…”
Leave Your Comfort Zone At Home
From that same Money.com interview, Bourdain suggested that the only way to truly connect with the places you travel is to accept that you aren’t at home anymore, “We tend to be over concerned with safety and with cleanliness in ways that stand between us.”
One of the things that made Bourdain’s perspective so refreshing was that it always felt like he was telling it to us straight.
“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind,” Bourdain said near the close of an episode of No Reservations aptly titled “Around The World On An Empty Stomach.”
Show Up To The Airport Prepared
This one seems obvious, but you wouldn’t believe how many people are in planes everyday noticeably bored because they didn’t think to bring anything to entertain themselves. It’s a rookie mistake and Bourdain never would’ve made it.
“I bring at least one physical book, I find that comforting. Often a book set in the country that I’m headed towards. A work of fiction, preferably. The perfect book to read before you go to Vietnam is Graham Greene’s ‘The Quiet American.’ Fiction seems to capture the place in a way that’s more tangible. It just works for me better than a travel guide.” Bourdain told The New York Times. “And dress for security. I don’t carry liquids or gels, I don’t wear a belt or any jewelry, I get my stuff out and in the tray very quickly and I’m through…”
Perhaps most importantly, always pack outwear. “Remember to bring something scrunchy and long-sleeved, like a sweatshirt. You might need it as a pillow,” Bourdain once told Good Morning America.
Just Landed, First Stop? The Market. Always
“I like to see what’s in season, what they’re selling. The little businesses that pop up in those places to feed the merchants from the market are pretty helpful. I get an immediate sense of what’s going on in a town and what the food’s like.” Bourdain told Bon Appétit.
PART II: Eating Like Bourdain
Anthony Bourdain understood that the one true thing that connects all of us, no matter what part of the world we were born in or decide to call home, is food.
“I think food, culture, people, and landscape are all absolutely inseparable,” he told Condé Nast Traveler.
First Of All, Don’t Eat On The Plane
“No one has ever felt better after eating plane food. I think people only eat it because they’re bored. I don’t eat on planes. I like to arrive hungry.”
Even if it’s a long flight, Anthony Bourdain told Bon Appétit that eating food on planes is never worth it. Also, if you’re going to drink: “Don’t drink at your hotel. Find out where the people who work at your hotel do their drinking.”
Eat Where The Locals Eat
“Where you are, eat what the locals are good at or famous for, and eat where those locals like to eat it. Do not rely on your concierge for dining tips. He’s in the business of making tourists happy. You want the places that make locals happy. Seek out places crowded with locals. Avoid places where others of your kind are present,” Bourdain wisely advised during an interview with Good Morning America.
Always Appreciate What You’re Given
“People everywhere like it when you are appreciative of their food. I cannot stress enough how important your initial reactions to offerings of local specialties are to any possible relationships you might make abroad. Smile and try to look happy, even if you don’t like it. If you do like it, let them know through word or gesture of appreciation.” Bourdain told Good Morning America.
Honestly, if someone is nice enough to give you food you should always reciprocate by showing your appreciation even if you really really don’t want to eat it. Trust Tony and don’t wait to find this out the hard (or awkward) way.
Break Bread With Your Enemies
“If you’re going to intersect anywhere it’s going to be over food — and how open you are to receiving that food and whatever intent was behind it. I’ve gotten along with people everywhere in this world and heard some incredible stories largely because I sit down without an agenda and ask the very simple question: What’s for dinner? What makes you happy?” Bourdain told The Fifth Estate.
It’s no doubt that we are living in tumultuous times, but it’s important we remember that countries are made up of people, not who they’ve put in power. “What we find on the ground is often completely at odds with our expectations and the picture we might receive from the news or the newspaper.”
PART III: Keeping The Spirit Of Bourdain Alive
Aside from being an expert in all things travel and food, it seemed like Anthony Bourdain knew what it meant to live. That’s precisely the thing that makes the tragedy of his death feel so heavy for so many. So in honor of Bourdain Day, let’s listen and take to heart the lessons that Anthony Bourdain tried to teach us all, and the ways he tried to show us that we are all truly connected.
In closing, I leave you with this quote from a piece by Travel and Leisure:
“It seems that the more places I see and experience, the bigger I realize the world to be. The more I become aware of, the more I realize how relatively little I know of it, how many places I have still to go, how much more there is to learn. Maybe that’s enlightenment enough – to know that there is no final resting place of the mind, no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom, at least for me, means realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go.”
Happy Bourdain Day. Now get out into the world.