Anthony Bourdain has inspired my travels and food adventures more than anybody in the world. I’m heartbroken that he’s no longer here. I had the opportunity to meet him 6 years ago, and wanted to re-share what I wrote about him back then. I was starstruck and goofy, and for good reason: Anthony Bourdain was my hero.
I Met My Hero…and More
Originally posted July 8, 2012
I became a 15 year old girl over the weekend. I was giddy. I was silly. I fanned myself with my jazz hands. I might’ve even squealed.
Correction: I definitely squealed.
I met Anthony Bourdain.
Chef. Foodie. Writer. Traveler.
AKA my hero.
Here’s how it happened. My best friend/wifey invited me to keep her company while she worked the San Diego Comic-Con last week. I had planned to make a vacay out of it to maybe explore the city, go to Coronado, and of course accompany her to events and parties. She arrived a day earlier than I, and sent me this text message:
i just met anthony bourdain…i gave him my card and if he calls me ill tell him ull b his concubine.
Ha! I’d been indifferent about attending Comic-Con itself. Sure, I’d go for the experience, wander the exhibition floor, check out the cosplay for a bit. *Shrug*
But when I found out that Anthony Bourdain was there – and staying at the same hotel as us – I went from indifferent shrugging wanderer to silly squealing fangirl.
While everyone else was nerding out on Doctor Who and Twilight and Stan Lee, I was nerding out over a man who eats and travels and writes for a living. *Squeal*
I don’t even remember what I said when I met him. I just know I was stupid. To be honest, he wasn’t particularly warm (seriously, I was annoying), but he was nice enough to autograph a poster of the graphic novel he was there to promote – “Get Jiro!” – and even signed it to “Traveling Thy.” *Squeal* He was also kind enough to sign my Comic-Con badge and take a photo with me, whilst probably dying to roll his eyes at this silly girl.
Tony (yeah, we’re on an abbreviated first name basis now) could roll his eyes all he wanted. I would still later stalk him and stand in line for an hour to attend the panel discussion for his book.
“Get Jiro!” is a beautifully illustrated graphic novel about a dystopian, future LA where chefs rule and the city is in a bloody culinary war, when a traditional sushi chef named Jiro goes rogue. At the panel, Tony, his co-author Joel Rose, illustrator Langdon Foss, and others discussed how the idea for the graphic novel came about and how it was written and illustrated. There wasn’t a single thing that ended up on the cutting room floor. They were committed and passionate, and created something they really loved.
I so enjoyed the discussion. I just sat there dreamy-eyed and slightly drooly, as Tony talked about food appreciation…how there was a time when the idea of eating raw fish was repulsive in America and how our culinary world has evolved over the years…that he chose a sushi chef over all other chefs to be his novel’s hero because no other culinary culture hyper-fetishizes food or takes food as seriously as they do…how they’ll spend seven years in the art of rice before ever touching a fish. No question about it – from day one, the hero of Tony’s graphic novel was going to be a sushi chef.
Aside from “Get Jiro!” Tony discussed his career a little bit and how “it kills the thing I love.” By finding hidden culinary gems and exposing them to millions of people on his television shows, he consequently changes the face of that culinary gem for better or for worse. It’s a tough position but it comes with the territory.
When asked how he suggested getting a culinarily narrow-minded friend to try a new or daring food, Tony’s answer was simple: “Alcohol.” Bam. I’m usin’ it.
And in true Tony fashion, he did throw in some pretentious jabs of disdain for those who ruin a perfectly good nigiri by swirling it in soy sauce and wasabi, or who dare to put monterey jack cheese in their tacos…and how “If you’re looking for the epicenter of culinary evil, Olive Garden is a good place to start.” Ha!
Food snob indeed. But Tony was quick to admit he was nervous about bringing “Get Jiro!” to Comic-Con. This hardcore food snob would be facing hardcore comic book snobs, and he was definitely feeling some insecurities about it. But the audience response was overwhelmingly supportive and the book is getting good reviews. I’m pretty sure he left there satisfied.
Here’s my favorite image from “Get Jiro!” It’s a bit graphic (duh, it’s a graphic novel), but I too feel the urge to do this when people order California Rolls, ha!
I met a few other peeps you might recognize too: see my original post.