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Style & Living Top Chef

Tom Colicchio Reflects on Anthony Bourdain's Real Legacy: "It Was Never About Him Being a Bad Boy"

Bravo's Top Chef judge Tom Colicchio says Anthony Bourdain's "humanity" — not his drinking and smoking reputation — will endure.

By Alesandra Dubin
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Not long after Anthony Bourdain's death by suicide, Tom Colicchio mourned the loss, saying, "The best was yet to come, and now those stories aren't going to be told." But the Bravo's Top Chef lead judge has indeed seen Bourdain's stories continue to be told even after his death — and although some fans have lamented the posthumous content rollout as exploitative, Colicchio has vocally disagreed, recently tweeting, "Tony wanted his work seen. His suicide didn't change that."

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The Feast recently caught up with Colicchio in NYC, where he doubled down. "I think [Parts Unknown] should air, without a doubt. It’s his work. I mean he didn’t work for it not be seen," Colicchio said. "There’s absolutely no reason for people not to see it. I don’t believe he was working and traveling the world so no one would see that. I don’t think it’s exploitative at all — but it's also sad."

Indeed, Bourdain's loss was tragic, and Colicchio believes that continuing to tell Bourdain's stories is a way to continue to juice profound lessons from his life. "We’re left with a body of work that shows us his humanity and that’s what’s going to really last for a long time," Colicchio told us. "For me, it was never about him being a bad boy — the drinking and smoking. It wasn’t about that. It’s really about his humanity."

He added, "The idea that you can go somewhere and through food, tell a story about people’s humanity and their differences and celebrate that. To me, that is what will be long lasting — and that is what his legacy will be built on." 

—Reporting by Laura Rosenfeld

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