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Top Chef Alums Open Up About How We Should Remember Anthony Bourdain
"It's another wakeup call for our industry," Season 15 cheftestant Tanya Holland shared.
The culinary community and the world at large immediately felt a huge void left after the death of Anthony Bourdain on June 8. But Bravo's Top Chef Season 15 contestant Chris Scott is choosing to remember not what we've lost but what we've gained during Bourdain's time on earth.
Scott opened up to The Feast about Bourdain's passing while prepping for the Juneteenth Celebration at the James Beard House in New York City on June 18. "Anthony Bourdain, I never met him personally, but he was certainly one of us. His voice spoke volumes about what we do all the time. It's so much more than a white tablecloth and Champagne and foie gras on every plate; it's that guy on the corner who's selling stuff out of his cart. Get to know him, get to know his culture, get to know his food, understand that. That cart is a very integral part of that community, and Anthony brought that along. And every single city and country where he was, he showed that, that food and people are intertwined. It's the connective that we have. It's something that us as chefs we know all about, but Anthony brought that out."
Scott said that he hopes someone else will be able to carry the torch in the future. "I hope that there's someone who comes along who's able to give voice to that to continue his legacy, to continue his message, because it's so important," he explained. "But no one's gonna be able to do it like him, that's for sure."
Perhaps Scott's fellow Season 15 cheftestant Tanya Holland could be that person. "I aspired to be the female Anthony Bourdain for many years. I wanted to do a travel show. For me, food and culture and travel is what I live for. I love being out there in the world, bringing my food to people and learning about other cultures, so he is very inspiring in that way," Holland told The Feast while prepping for the Beard House's Juneteenth Celebration. "But really sad, really sad for all of us. Terrible loss."
Holland actually got a chance to meet Bourdain at the James Beard Awards ceremony in 2002. "It was the first one I had attended, and I just remember him being really gracious and really humble. And I always kept that in mind," Holland recalled. "And I read [his] book [Kitchen Confidential] cover-to-cover so fast. It was very relatable because I had been working in kitchens for a while. I worked in New York and I worked out in the Cape. So I just found him very accessible."
Holland previously shared the photo of her meeting Bourdain on Instagram on June 9, the day after the chef, author, and host's passing, which you can view, above. "He was and is the gold standard. Mostly because when I met him he exhibited humility and he was gracious. The attributes I admire most. And what I aspire to. It’s unexpected, but necessary when one has 'fame,'" Holland reflected in the post. "But fame leads to people making assumptions about your life. I learned early on and the hard way that you never know what anyone is going through. Can we all please have more compassion and empathy for one another? Stop assuming. Stop putting people in boxes! We all experience the world differently. Some of us can’t even see ourselves clearly. But whatever you do, do it with grace and ease."
Tanya also said that she hopes Bourdain's death will help raise awareness of the importance of taking care of your mental health while speaking with The Feast. "Really, it's another wakeup call for our industry to make sure people are having balanced lives. I think that's really important," she shared. "And to have access to mental health care is also very important."
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