A Proud Jersey Native: The Late Anthony Bourdain

The late Anthony Bourdain was an international chef and a dedicated storyteller - but one thing you may not know is that he was also a proud New Jersey native.

Although Anthony spent most of his time traveling the world trying new cuisine, he made sure to remind his audience about the best eats at the Jersey Shore.

He shared his favorite moments growing up in New Jersey on an episode of "Parts Unknown, his series on CNN. “I remember this place with nothing but fondness. I can't remember a single bad memory here.”

He also claims that cheesesteaks in our area are “better than that, they’re bigger than that, and the best cheesesteak in the area may very well come from New Jersey."

Anthony Bourdain was born in Leonia, New Jersey on June 25, 1956. He was best known for his culinary arts and television presentations, as well as several best-selling books on his travel adventures.

I spoke with another celebrity chef from New Jersey, David Burke, about his memories of Bourdain.

"Anthony traveled to many places and I know a lot of people that have lived in California, Colorado, Texas and they come back because of the attitude of New Jersey. You have the oceans, you have the farms, you have the mix of blue and white-collared people, you have this rockstar mentality. Also, some great musicians obviously with Bruce & Bon Jovi - you have a sense of that pep in your step, lots of pride being from Jersey. “

Anthony Bourdain made his mark around the globe by truly immersing himself in different cultures, in hopes of bringing the rest of the world along for the ride.

Burke adds that, "I think Anthony championed that ‘lets bring everybody along' mentality and to respect the people that are really cooking in America’ There are really a lot of ethnic, Latinos, Asians, Europeans, that putting out a lot of this American food. His travel show brought the aspect that you can eat a great meal sitting on a paint can."

Back in 2015, Bourdain traced back to his "Jersey" roots on ‘Parts Unknown’ and visited a favorite shore spot in Asbury Park.

Owner of 'Frank's Deli' Joe Maggio, explains the excitement of when Anthony Bourdain dined in his restaurant. "He came in for lunch one day, really exciting, the middle of winter with South Side Johnny and they talked about Asbury Park. I was very happy to meet him. A big celebrity that goes all over the world and then ends up in Asbury Park in Frank's Deli. You don't really see a guy like this coming in, so it was very exciting."

Bourdain’s passion for food and travel inspired us all to taste and see the world and he certainly had ‘no reservations,’ especailly when it came to trying new foods!

Besides the big name and the fame, Bourdain did lead a life of hardship and addiction. He has been candid about his struggles over the years.

“I started to look into it and think about it and I thought back to my own past in massachusetts as a chef and my career with heroin.’ he shared on another special of "Parts Unknown" on CNN.

Burke shares his grief, "Its' truly sad,but what he did and how he opened up people's eyes for the amount of time he was here. He didn't get recognized until his mid-40s, so he paid his dues. Everyone has their pitfalls and bad habits. We know he struggled and I think what he left behind for his audience is great."

For decades, one thing was constant – there was an endless curiosity about food and he spent his life on a culinary tour.

“I drove a long way for this, I thought about it the whole way.” Bourdain shared as he arrived to Donkey's Place for a cheesesteak in Camden, New Jersey.

"I don't think he forgot where he came from," says Chef Burke. "I think that was one of the messages he tried to get across was its not where you're from or who you are. Everybody has a culture and food is something that strings it together.”

For the full story that aired on Jersey Matters, check out the link:


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