A second serving of Bourdain

By Steve McCann





In today's edition of Feasting Fridays we're taking a look at the new documentary ‘Roadrunner’, which explores the amazing life and tragic death of Anthony Bourdain.


We hear from Bourdain’s friends, and the producers, cinematographers, camera operators – all the people who knew him simply as “Tony”. In ‘Roadrunner’, they get their turn in front of the camera, and it all begins with how Bourdain’s globe-trotting TV career barely made it off the ground.


Hot off his bestselling ‘Kitchen Confidential’, Bourdain was given the opportunity to host ‘A Cook’s Tour’ for Food Network in the early 2000s. It was immediately clear he was uncomfortable in front of the camera or speaking with people he didn’t know. Those early episode jitters quickly wore off, and Bourdain found his groove, no matter where in the world he was sitting down for dinner and by that time, usually his 6th or 7th pint of the day.


The documentary shifts from making connections over a meal shared, to his relationship with himself and others. One fellow chef describes him as “loyal, yet complicated.” In 2017 Bourdain told The New Yorker, “The kind of care and feeding required of friends, I’m frankly incapable of … I’m not gonna remember your birthday.” If that doesn’t sum it up, nothing will.


A poignant moment in the documentary is a stroll along the beach with Iggy Pop, talking about happiness. Yes, Bourdain travelled the world looking for new foods and common ground with people from completely different cultures and backgrounds, but he was also on an internal quest for happiness – and fans of Bourdain went along for the ride.


Of all the candid interviews ‘Roadrunner’ provides, it’s the one person who doesn’t appear that speaks loudest: his final partner, Italian actress Asia Argento. The documentary tip toes around allegations of infidelity around the time of Bourdain’s death, but pulls no punches in how eager she was to change the format of his hit show ‘Parts Unknown’, or how Bourdain wouldn’t hesitate to fire his decades-long producers who butted heads with his girlfriend.


The shocking news of Bourdain’s death three years ago was a grim reminder that those people who seemingly have everything going for them might not be doing well at all. Perhaps Bourdain’s greatest legacy is the importance of conversation over a meal, and the wonders that can do for humanity.

For Feasting Friday, we invite you to visit that restaurant on the other side of town, and order something off the menu you’ve never tried before. Strike up a conversation with that patio table next to you. We think you’ll be left satisfied and hungry for more.


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