Interest, Uniqueness, Craziness and Class Acts

(Caballero in Castilian Spanish Is Knight or Gentleman)

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Thinking Out Loud About Food And The Five Caballero Chefs —  There are many good chefs out there and one of my favorite Caballeros  is Chef Bobby Flay,  the other four,  who also make the music are Andrew Zimmern,  Guy Fieri, Anthony Bordain, and Jose Andres, the Five Caballeros.  They are as unique as the food served around the world — Bobby Flay is the Encyclopedia Brittanica of Food,  Andrew Zimmern is the Ethnic Grand Champion mad scientist, Guy Fieri is the Rock Star Extrodinere ,  Anthony Bordain was the Worlds Best Food Explorer, and Chef Jose Andres who feeds and saves those in trouble all over the world is simply a gift from GOD.  There are many more great chefs but these gentlemen are in another over the top quadrant, with food reachable on my level.

I had to pick five for space and time,  but I also recognize those on other levels of sheer creativity are important, from an article by Mathew Kang , he summed it up well , but other great chefs exist on the continent, Michelin Star Winners all,  but not as simple or easy for my following.  High Michelin rankings and way above my pay scale.  I can’t afford Michelin Tires much less eat at their restaurants.  I learned in a college environment where anything other than Ramen Noodles was a luxury. 

Ask anyone who enjoys TV cooking competitions what show’s their favorite, and they’ll likely have a different answer: It could be the stalwarts, Chopped and Top Chef;  But the mother of all cooking shows is, and will always be, Iron Chef.  By the way in reality TV land CHOPPED was ranked high on being real TV,  not so well with other reality shows which were all faked from Cakes, Car repairs and Custom cars to Marriages.

Launched in 1993 in Japan, the original version, hosted by the regal Chairman Kaga, was deadly serious in its exuberant quest for culinary excellence, an attitude flipped on its head with the campy, hilarious dubbing that followed when the Food Network began airing it in the U.S. in 1999. 

Iron Chef, in all its splendor, threw both its esteemed Iron Chefs and ambitious challengers into a grand arena — “Kitchen Stadium” — a spectacle unlike any other on television. The show was the progenitor of cooking as sport, challenging two chefs to cook the better meal using a shared theme ingredient, and it enthroned chefs as heroes. In turning cooking into storylines akin to pro wrestling drama, the original Iron Chef reinforced the notion of chefs as auteurs ***, or chefs as icons worthy of veneration.  The opening monologue dubbed the Iron Chefs “ The invincible men of culinary skills,” Playing up the idea that if “ ever a challenger wins over the Iron Chef, he or she will gain the people’s ovation and fame forever.” 

But as reckonings within the restaurant industry have peeled back some of the long-standing reverence for chefs, the rebooted Iron Chef:  Quest for an Iron Legend, which premiered on Netflix, raises the question of why we should still care about elevating chefs into this level of admiration  with the now-disgraced Mario Batali one of its early Iron Chefs, which left a black mark on the industry and a lot of ugly Orange Crocs in the warehouse. 

Netflix’s reboot brings back the original Food Network duo Alton Brown as host with actor Mark Dacascos as Chairman Kaga’s “ Nephew.” But with an entirely new set of judges, challengers, and Iron Chefs, the show doesn’t have time to develop the names of its in-house heroes, so they instead come with years or even decades of prior culinary success and recognition:   Many great names in 

Alex Guarnaschelli, Geoffrey Zakarian, Marc Forgione, Michael Symon, CAT Cora,  Gordon Ramsey, who screams and yells too much,   Sunny Anderson, Curtis Stone, David Chang, Jaimie Oliver, a champion for good safe food Marcus Samuelsson, brilliant mind, Ming Tsai, great far-east eats, Dominique Crenn, Maneet Chauhan and Gabriela Cámara,  and Masaharu Morimoto, my favorite chef who uses sharp sea shell’s to cut seafood so as not to stain the food with metallic taste.   

There’s Also Been A Diverse Cast Of Competitors:   —  Mason Hereford of New Orleans’s Turkey and the Wolf, Esther Choi of New York City’s Mokbar, Curtis Duffy of Chicago’s Ever, Claudette Zepeda of San Diego’s Vaga, Yia Vang of Minneapolis’s Union Hmong Kitchen, Mei Lin of LA’s Daybird, and Gregory Gourdet of Portland’s Kann. There’s no lack of culinary ability here, and these chefs come with as much acclaim as the Iron Chefs, though with fewer years of experience, certainly.

— “ COOKING —  FIVE-O”  —   

😃  BOBBY FLAY —   Robert William Flay (born December 10, 1964 is an American celebrity chef, restaurateur, and reality television personality.  Flay is the owner and executive chef of several restaurants and franchises, such as Bobby's Burger Palace and the Mesa Grill. He has worked with Food Network since 1995, which won him four Daytime Emmy Awards and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

He is  an encyclopedia of cooking and has a TV show where he is challenged by another chef to a cooking runoff.   In twenty to forty-five minutes he and the other chef create dishes you would not believe from ingredients you never thought of or taught to use.  Then they are judged by three other owner/chefs of popular restaurants around the country who can be as critical as a heart attack.   

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First and foremost, my most comfortable place is in my kitchens—at my restaurants or at home. The apron I tie on is inevitably battle-stained with remnants of my creations—both the good and the works in progress.   That apron (my shield from the tough moments of the world) reminds me that I’m not afraid to fail as long as I make every effort to succeed.

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Over three decades ago, with my GED in hand and a helping hand from a most generous restaurateur, I set out to learn a trade. I was a member of French Culinary Institute’s first graduating class of 1984 and it was there I learned the fundamentals I so needed. That formal education and a three year stint with Chef Jonathan Waxman in the mid to late ‘80’s are the two experiences I point to most when reflecting about how I got my start. They outfitted me with the confidence I needed to take my own shot.

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Over the years, I’ve been able to play out my culinary dreams like an artist — approaching concepts that were speaking to me at that very moment. From the contemporary Southwestern cuisine of Mesa Grill, to the the French-inspired American Brasserie menu of Bar Americain, the salty allure of Mediterranean ingredients at Bolo (and later Gato), a fresh approach to South Jersey Surf and Turf at Bobby Flay Steak, and a kitchen of new discovery that put South American chiles and peppers on my paint brush and fish as my canvas at Shark in Las Vegas: each has been a labor of true love and inspiration. I’m excited to see what happens next.

He Loves A Good Fight —  On Throwdown! with Bobby Flay, the chef challenges cooks renowned for a specific dish or type of cooking to a cook-off of their signature dish. On Episode 5 of Season 4, Harlem chef Melba Wilson and Bobby squared off over who had the best chicken and eggnog waffles. 

While being interviewed on "Conversations with Allan Wolper" on WBGO 88.3FM, Wilson confessed that she had been nervous because Bobby brought a cast-iron skillet.  Having grown up in a family that used cast-iron skillets, Wilson was nonetheless forced to use a deep fryer because her restaurant was too small for a cast-iron skillet. 

Towards the end of the anecdote, she explained, "Can I tell you? When he pulled out the skillet, it was a rough day. Wilson started sweating bullets. But at the end of the day, we threw down – I don't know, I think it was the eggnog – and I won."

Flay was an Iron Chef on the show Iron Chef America. In 2000, when the original Iron Chef show traveled to New York for a special battle, he challenged Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto to battle rock crab. 

After the hour battle ended, Flay stood on top of his cutting board and raised his arms in what one journalist wrote was “ in premature victory".   As Morimoto felt that real chefs consider cutting boards and knives as sacred, and being offended by Flay's flamboyant gesture, he criticized his professionalism, saying that Flay was " not a chef". Flay went on to lose the battle. Flay challenged Morimoto to a rematch in Morimoto's native Japan. This time, Flay won.

Flay and Morimoto, both Iron Chefs on Iron Chef America teamed – took on and won – against fellow Iron Chefs Mario Batali and Hiroyuki Sakai in the Iron Chef America:   Battle of the Masters “ Tag Team" battle.

On a special episode of Iron Chef America originally airing on November 12, 2006, Flay and Giada De Laurentiis faced off against, and were defeated by, Batali and Rachael Ray. This was the highest rated show ever broadcast on Food Network.

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Flay and Michael Symon defeated the team of Iron Chefs Cat Cora and Masaharu Morimoto in a special episode titled "Thanksgiving Showdown," which originally aired on November 16, 2008.  On November 29, 2009, Iron Chefs Morimoto and Flay faced off one-on-one again in Battle Egg Nog. The battle, which featured ice-carvers, was won by Morimoto by a single point.

Beat Bobby Flay pits select chefs against host Flay to see if they can create dishes that are better than his.  As Flay's most successful series on Food Network the prior season, episode 5 of season 17, featuring Debbie Gibson and Katie Lee, was chosen as the 2018 lead-out show for season 14 of Food Network Star.

Flay wins a lot, on his show not because it is his show, but because of his knowledge of what works.  He owns six restaurants across the country, on three shows,  a guest on others and is an “ IRON CHEF” and loves competition. 

He literally lives for it and is known for his judicious use of peppers correctly.   Peppers are the most common spice ingredient found throughout the world in differing octanes measured in scovilles. They are the one ingredient plus salt that Chefs World wide could not live without -   There are 50,000 varieties of peppers BUT only 4,000 are hot peppers —    

His other passion is cats and Nacho Flay, an aristo-cat.

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😜  ANDREW ZIMMERN —  GOODWILL AMBASSADOR  —  Following years of supporting the organization and its causes, the Emmy- and four-time James Beard Award-Winning chef, writer, teacher and social justice advocate will be using his voice and platform to fight for global hunger and educate the public on food waste. 

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The U.N. World Food Programme, which was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2020, is the world’s largest humanitarian aid organization, providing food assistance to more than 100 million people in over 80 countries each year.  Andrew Zimmern is an Ambassador on the project.

Zimmern has dedicated his life to driving change and promoting cultural exchanges through food, and he has been a passionate advocate for food waste education. Through his travels across the globe, he has witnessed the disparity between the levels of food waste in America and the hunger faced by millions in developing countries. He has advanced public awareness on food waste by underscoring how individuals can make a difference and also advocating for the transformation of food systems.

“Andrew has made his mark not only with his culinary creativity but also with his commitment to fighting hunger and his work on reducing food waste,” said U.N. World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley. “Tackling food waste is a critical part of efforts to end global hunger and malnutrition. We’re excited to welcome Andrew as a Goodwill Ambassador for our global movement working to ensure no child goes to bed hungry.”

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Andrew Zimmern is an Emmy-winning and four-time James Beard Award-winning TV personality, chef, writer and social justice advocate. As the creator, executive producer and host of the Bizarre Foods franchise, Andrew Zimmern’s Driven by Food and Emmy-winning The Zimmern List, he has devoted his life to exploring and promoting cultural acceptance, tolerance and understanding through food. 

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In 2020, Andrew returned to television with MSNBC’s What’s Eating America, and in 2021, he premiered Family Dinner on Magnolia Network. This year, you can find him judging the epic culinary battle Iron Chef: Quest for an Iron Legend on Netflix and on Outdoor Channel’s Andrew Zimmern’s Wild Game Kitchen.   Andrew is the founder and CEO of Intuitive Content, named one of the top 100 production companies in the world by Realscreen, and Passport Hospitality, a restaurant and food service development company. 

He is passionate about his philanthropic endeavors and sits on the board of directors of Services for the UnderServed, Project Explorer/EXPLR, Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project and Soigne Hospitality. He serves on City Harvest’s Food Council, is the International Rescue Committee’s Voice for Nutrition and a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations World Food Programme. Andrew is also a founding member of the Independent Restaurant Coalition, fighting to save restaurants affected by Covid-19. He resides in Minneapolis.

Andrew Scott Zimmern (born July 4, 1961) is an American chef, restaurateur, television and radio personality, director, producer, businessman, food critic, and author.  And like Flay, Fieri, Bordain and Chef Andres an International Humanitarian 

Zimmern is the co-creator, host, and consulting producer of the Travel Channel television series Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, Bizarre Foods America, Bizarre Foods: Delicious Destinations, Andrew Zimmern's Bizarre World, Dining with Death, The Zimmern List, and Andrew Zimmern's Driven by Food, as well as the Food Network series “  The Big Food Truck Tip” 

For his work on Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, he was presented the James Beard Foundation Award four times: in 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2017.   Zimmern hosts a cooking web series on YouTube, Andrew Zimmern Cooks. His show, What's Eating America, premiered on MSNBC in 2020.
In November 2018,  Zimmern opened a Chinese restaurant, Lucky Cricket, in St. Louis Park, Minnesota.

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Zimmern was born in 1961 to Robert and Caren Zimmern and raised in New York City in a Jewish family.  As a boy, he attended James Beard's legendary Christmas and Sunday open houses and credits Beard's hospitality for his early culinary aspirations.  He began his formal culinary training at the age of 14. 

He attended the Dalton School and graduated from Vassar College. He worked at several fine dining restaurants in New York as either executive chef or general manager. He has also lectured on restaurant management and design at The New School for Social Research.

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Mr. Zimmern is a very skilled worldly diversified chef and quite the entertaining character.  He has a Medical Board certified cast iron-titanium glass lined stomach full of Aqua Regia to digest his sometimes unique appetite in foreign countries and a love of nuclear powered hot peppers.   When I went abroad I always carried a thermometer 165 or better. That was to take my temperature after eating some of the stuff he tried.

Having traveled myself, liberal with food, and partaken of some local dishes, I’m running about 75-80% OK with some of his choices.  The other things about 25% are in the bags the airlines have on back of the seats.  But all with less heat.   The rest forget about it, require immediate attention,  and a really good gag and sometimes a convenient flower pot solved the problem.  I’m not that brave. 

What few people know is that he has on one of his websites literally the Secrets of good Jewish Cooking —  On his website , you will be blown away — 


Delicious Life  —  He Has Spice Blends By Country  Made By BADIA BRAND

  • In 2020, Andrew was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Host. 
  • He has won James Beard awards for “TV Food Personality” (2010), 
  • “TV Program on Location” (2012), 
  • “Outstanding Personality/Host” (2013 and 2017). 
  • In 2021, the annual Taste Awards created a new special achievement award, The Andrew Zimmern Discovery Award, that honors his mission to discover new cultures and flavors. 
  • In 2016, Andrew was named one of “America’s 50 Most Powerful People in Food” by The Daily Meal
  • One of the “30 Most Influential People in Food” by Adweek 
  • One of Fast Company’s “Most Creative People in Business.” 
  • According to Eater, “Zimmern knows more about the foods of the world and the history of modern gastronomy than anyone else in our solar system. He’s a walking, talking food encyclopedia, and a true omnivore.” 
  • Andrew has appeared as a contestant on Iron Chef
  • As a guest judge on episodes of Chopped, 
  • Top Chef Masters, Iron Chef and Top Chef
  • In 2016, he co-starred as a mentor for Season 2 of Food Network’s All-Star Academy.

SPAM ALERT —  Is there any food that Andrew Zimmern doesn't like?  Andrew Zimmern's disgust toward Spam is a little aggressive. In an interview with ABC News affiliate KITV, he goes on a rant about all the things he hates about the canned meat, such as its high salt and sugar content, even going so far as to say, "I've considered it my mission in life to rid the world of Spam."

😀  GUY FIERO  —  Guy Ramsay Fieri born January 22, 1968)  is an American restaurateur, author, and an Emmy Award winning television presenter. He co-owns three restaurants in California, licenses his name to restaurants in New York City and Las Vegas, Nevada, and is known for hosting various television series on the Food Network. 

By 2010, The New York Times reported that Fieri had become the “ Face of the network", bringing an “ Element of rowdy, mass-market culture to American food “.

Fieri was born Guy Ramsay Ferry in Columbus, Ohio, the son of Penelope Anne (née Price) and Lewis James Ferry. He grew up in Ferndale in rural Humboldt County, California. During high school, he was a foreign exchange student in France, where he developed his interest in food and cooking.

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Fieri attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Hotel Management in 1990.    By 2010, The New York Times reported that Fieri had become the “ Face of the network", bringing an "element of rowdy, mass-market culture to American food ]television" and that his "prime-time shows attract more male viewers than any others on the network”.

In totally different format, I also like Guy Fiero, a little more off the wall, and I share my love of the locally owned restaurants with his “ schtick”  which consists of a lot of drive-ins and dives, where I too have found some great eats and great ingenuity in unique genre’s and venues.  

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These smaller places remind me of pre-corporate days, one word  —  “ uniqueness” not found in day after day corporate guano.  Because in most of theses dives and drive-ins the staff is family or friends and the guy in the kitchen is proud of his work.  It’s not a  job, it’s a passion you do not find in corporate schlock houses.

Some of the chefs and places he visits have some of the most creative techniques and they have fans… Very loyal customers whose comments especially if it’s an ethic dish,  “ Just like my Momma made it” —  No higher comment needed  —  

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On TV , all not as legit as they claim.  TV is staged because it takes a production crew, lights preparation scripting and editing.   Guy knows his stuff and his backroom experience is based on knowledge, sometimes he acts quite crazy, crazy as a fox  —  he’s funny at times, but I love the ideas some of these entrepreneurs in dives come up with.  

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😇  ANTHONY BORDAIN —  I was and will always be a fan of Anthony Bourdain both as a Chef, a human being and as an entertainer in his travels around the world to places and exposing levels of culinary experiences most of us would never see.  

He told it like it is, not what the corporate spinners put on everything in our society today.  Celebrating ten years on his show before his passing, he was a straight shooter and the show has won many awards. 

He was as comfortable with a burger as he was in the finest of French Restaurants.  If the food was good, he would let you know, and tell you why it was conducive to that area.  He was more than a chef and a host, he was a culinary and an ethnicity educator he was my mentor and made me think —  I believe it was mental health issues — 

Anthony Michael Bourdain was born on June 25, 1956, in New York City, New York, but spent most of his youth in Leonia, New Jersey. As a teenager, Bourdain enjoyed going to the movies with friends and gathering at restaurant tables to discuss what they had seen for dessert. 

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Bourdain was inspired to enter the culinary world after he tried an oyster on a family vacation in France. Freshly caught by a fisherman, the tasty catch led Bourdain to work in seafood restaurants while attending Vassar College. He dropped out after two years, but he never abandoned the kitchen.

He attended the Culinary Institute of America, graduating in 1978. While most of his early jobs in restaurants involved tasks like dishwashing, he steadily moved up in the ranks of the kitchen. By 1998, Bourdain had become the executive chef at Brasserie Les Halles in New York City. Around this time, he was also chronicling his experiences in the “culinary underbelly.”

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The future celebrity chef wrote candidly about his heroin addiction, as well as his use of LSD, psilocybin, and cocaine. But he wasn’t the only one who struggled with these vices while working in restaurants in the 1980s. As he later explained, “ In America, the professional kitchen is the last refuge of the misfit.  It’s a place for people with bad pasts to find a new family.” 

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In 1999, Bourdain’s writing made him famous. He published an eye-catching article in The New Yorker titled “Don’t Eat Before Reading This,”  exposing some unsavory secrets of the culinary world. The article was such a hit that he expanded on it in 2000 with the book Kitchen Confidential.

Not only did his book become a bestseller, but he soon saw even more success with A Cook’s Tour. That book was turned into a TV series — which led to Bourdain’s world-famous No Reservations show in 2005.

Though Bourdain had found success in the literary world, he truly arrived when he went on TV. From No Reservations to the Peabody Award-winning series Parts Unknown, he explored culinary cultures all over the world as a humble tour guide to hidden pockets of life and food.

He had become the toast of the town as his honest depiction of people, culture, and cuisines found a global legion of fans. And as a former heroin addict, Bourdain inspired countless people with his remarkably honest story of recovery. But things were far from perfect in his world.

Inside Anthony Bourdain’s Death  —  Just a couple of years before his suicide, Bourdain publicly visited a psychotherapist in Buenos Aires, Argentina on an episode of Parts Unknown. While this episode, like others, focused on unique dishes and fascinating people, it also showed a darker side to Bourdain’s relationship with food.    While talking to the psychotherapist, he confessed that something as small as eating a bad hamburger at the airport could send him into “a spiral of depression that can last for days.” He also expressed a desire to be “happier.”

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It seemed like he was happier than ever when he first met Italian actress Asia Argento in 2017 while filming an episode of Parts Unknown in Rome. Though Bourdain’s first marriage had ended in divorce and his second in separation, he was clearly overjoyed to begin a new romance with Argento.

Still, he continued to struggle with his mental health. He often brought up death, wondering out loud how he would die and how he would kill himself if he decided to end his own life.  In one of his last interviews, he said that he was going to “die in the saddle” — a sentiment that later proved chilling.

Despite his enviable career as a travel documentarian, he was haunted by darkness that he couldn’t seem to shake. This coupled with his rigorous schedule likely made him feel exhausted whenever the cameras were off.

Five days before Bourdain’s death, paparazzi photos were released of Argento dancing with another man, French reporter Hugo Clément. While it was later reported that Bourdain and Argento were in an open relationship, some people speculated on how the photos had made Bourdain feel. But it’s impossible to say exactly what was going through his mind.

At 9:10 a.m. on June 8, 2018, Anthony Bourdain was found dead at Le Chambard Hotel in Kaysersberg-Vignoble, France. Tragically, Anthony Bourdain’s cause of death was soon revealed to be an apparent suicide. His friend Éric Ripert, with whom he had been filming Parts Unknown, was the one to discover the body hanging in the hotel room.

“Anthony was a dear friend,” Ripert later said. “He was an exceptional human being, so inspiring and generous. One of the great storytellers of our time who connected with so many. I wish him peace. My love and prayers are with his family, friends, and loved ones.”

For the prosecutor of Colmar, the city closest to the hotel, Anthony Bourdain’s cause of death was clear from the very beginning. “We have no reason to suspect foul play,” said Christian de Rocquigny. That said, it wasn’t immediately clear whether drugs played a role in the suicide. 

But a couple of weeks later, Bourdain’s toxicology report showed no trace of any narcotics and only a trace of a non-narcotic medication. Experts noted that his suicide appeared to be an “impulsive act.”

The Aftermath Of A Legendary Chef’s Demise  —  Shortly after Bourdain’s death, mourning fans gathered at Brasserie Les Halles to leave tributes. Colleagues at CNN and even President Obama tweeted their condolences. And Bourdain’s loved ones expressed their disbelief, with his mother saying he was “absolutely the last person in the world I would have ever dreamed would do something like this.” 

Some devastated fans wondered why Bourdain killed himself — especially since he had recently claimed that he “had things to live for.” A few even floated ominous theories that Bourdain’s outspoken views had somehow led to his death. For example, Bourdain publicly supported Argento when she revealed that she had been raped by Harvey Weinstein, a former film producer who was later imprisoned for other sex crimes.

Bourdain, never one to bite his tongue, was a vocal ally of the #MeToo movement, using his public platform to speak out against not only Weinstein but other famous people who had been accused of sex crimes. While many women were grateful to Bourdain for speaking up on their behalf, his activism undoubtedly made some powerful people angry.

Still, authorities insisted that there were no signs of foul play at the scene of his death. And there has never been any confirmed evidence that Anthony Bourdain’s cause of death was anything else other than a tragic suicide.

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Anthony Bourdain and Éric Ripert in 2014. 

As time went on, Bourdain’s family, friends, and colleagues began to honor his memory in a variety of ways. About a year after he died, Éric Ripert and some other famous chefs designated June 25th as “Bourdain Day” to pay tribute to their late friend — on what would’ve been his 63rd birthday. 

More recently, the documentary film Roadrunner explored Bourdain’s life through home videos, snippets from TV shows, and interviews with those who knew him best. The movie — scheduled to be released in theaters on July 16, 2021 — also includes some never-before-seen footage of Bourdain. 

While the film touches on Bourdain’s gravitation toward “darkness,” it also shows the beautiful impact that he had on other people during his travels throughout the world and his all-too-short journey through life.

As Bourdain once said, “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.”



On Mexicans, Anthony Bourdain wrote this:

Americans love Mexican food. We consume nachos, tacos, burritos, tortes, enchiladas, tamales and anything resembling Mexican in enormous quantities.  We love Mexican beverages, happily knocking back huge amounts of tequila, mezcal, and Mexican beer every year. We love Mexican people—we sure employ a lot of them.

Despite our ridiculously hypocritical attitudes towards immigration, we demand that Mexicans cook a large percentage of the food we eat, grow the ingredients we need to make that food, clean our houses, mow our lawns, wash our dishes, and look after our children.

As any chef will tell you, our entire service economy—the restaurant business as we know it—in most American cities, would collapse overnight without Mexican workers.  Some, of course, like to claim that Mexicans are “stealing American jobs.”

But in two decades as a chef and employer, I never had ONE American kid walk in my door and apply for a dishwashing job, a porter’s position—or even a job as a prep cook. Mexicans do much of the work in this country that Americans, probably, simply won’t do.  

We love Mexican drugs. Maybe not you personally, but “we”, as a nation, certainly consume titanic amounts of them—and go to extraordinary lengths and expense to acquire them. We love Mexican music, Mexican beaches, Mexican architecture, interior design, Mexican films.

So, why don’t we love Mexico?

We throw up our hands and shrug at what happens and what is happening just across the border. Maybe we are embarrassed. Mexico, after all, has always been there for us, to service our darkest needs and desires. 

Whether it’s dress up like fools and get passed-out drunk and sunburned on spring break in Cancun, throw pesos at strippers in Tijuana, or get toasted on Mexican drugs, we are seldom on our best behavior in Mexico. They have seen many of us at our worst. They know our darkest desires.

In the service of our appetites, we spend billions and billions of dollars each year on Mexican drugs—while at the same time spending billions and billions more trying to prevent those drugs from reaching us. 

The effect on our society is everywhere to be seen. Whether it’s kids nodding off and overdosing in small town Vermont, gang violence in L.A., burned out neighborhoods in Detroit—it’s there to see. 

What we don’t see, however, haven’t really noticed, and don’t seem to much care about, is the 80,000 dead in Mexico, just in the past few years—mostly innocent victims.   Eighty thousand families who’ve been touched directly by the so-called “War On Drugs”.

Mexico. Our brother from another mother. A country, with whom, like it or not, we are inexorably, deeply involved, in a close but often uncomfortable embrace. 

Look at it. It’s beautiful. It has some of the most ravishingly beautiful beaches on earth. Mountains, desert, jungle. Beautiful colonial architecture, a tragic, elegant, violent, ludicrous, heroic, lamentable, heartbreaking history. Mexican wine country rivals Tuscany for gorgeousness. 

Its archeological sites—the remnants of great empires, unrivaled anywhere. And as much as we think we know and love it, we have barely scratched the surface of what Mexican food really is. It is NOT melted cheese over tortilla chips. It is not simple, or easy. It is not simply “ Bro food” at half-time. 

It is in fact, old—older even than the great cuisines of Europe, and often deeply complex, refined, subtle, and sophisticated. A true mole sauce, for instance, can take DAYS to make, a balance of freshly (always fresh) ingredients painstakingly prepared by hand. It could be, should be, one of the most exciting cuisines on the planet, if we paid attention. 

The old school cooks of Oaxaca make some of the more difficult and nuanced sauces in gastronomy. And some of the new generation—many of whom have trained in the kitchens of America and Europe—have returned home to take Mexican food to new and thrilling heights.

It’s a country I feel particularly attached to and grateful for. In nearly 30 years of cooking professionally, just about every time I walked into a new kitchen, it was a Mexican guy who looked after me, had my back, showed me what was what, and was there—and on the case—when the cooks like me, with backgrounds like mine, ran away to go skiing or surfing or simply flaked. I have been fortunate to track where some of those cooks come from, to go back home with them. 

To small towns populated mostly by women—where in the evening, families gather at the town’s phone kiosk, waiting for calls from their husbands, sons and brothers who have left to work in our kitchens in the cities of the North. 

I have been fortunate enough to see where that affinity for cooking comes from, to experience moms and grandmothers preparing many delicious things, with pride and real love, passing that food made by hand from their hands to mine.

In years of making television in Mexico, it’s one of the places we, as a crew, are happiest when the day’s work is over. We’ll gather around a street stall and order soft tacos with fresh, bright, delicious salsas, drink cold Mexican beer, sip smoky mezcals, and listen with moist eyes to sentimental songs from street musicians. We will look around and remark, for the hundredth time, what an extraordinary place this is.





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Born in Spain, where he learned the craft of cooking first from his parents and then in the kitchen of Ferran Adrià’s groundbreaking avant-garde restaurant “ elBulli”  – 

José Andrés immigrated to the United States in 1991, first to New York City and later to Washington, D.C., where he and his partners established a group of restaurants that has earned countless fans and won numerous awards over the years. 

José holds close both his identity as a Spanish immigrant and an American citizen, placing upon himself the responsibility of both culinary ambassador and immigrant representing the two nations. He is a visionary and a humanitarian, establishing World Central Kitchen in 2010 as a means for feeding the many – using culinary training programs to empower communities and strengthen economies as well as food disaster relief in the wake of emergencies around the globe. 

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🎖 He has been widely recognized for both his culinary and his humanitarian work, including by the James Beard Foundation – which named him Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic in 2003, as well as Humanitarian of the Year in 2018; 

🎖 TIME Magazine, which included him on the list of 100 Most Influential People in 2012 and 2018; 

🎖 And President Obama, who awarded José the National Humanities Medal in 2015. 

🎖 José holds two Michelin stars for his avant-garde tasting counter minibar by José Andrés in Washington, D.C., as well as four Bib Gourmands.


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               CNN HERO AWARD                            TWO EMMY’s NOMINATED / RON HOWARD

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                      UKRAINE                                              PHILIPPINES AFTER TYPHOON

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                                        KENTUCKY                                                        UKRAINE