Netflix teams with an array of production houses namely Universal Studio, Focus Features, CNN Films, Max Origin and Tremolo Productions to bring an in-depth personal view into Anthony Bourdain’s life. It was a journey for the crew, his lovers, his friends, his fellow chefs and us. Many culinary personalities knew of him and his charade of charisma and deep passion for food. But this documentary delves deeper and talks about who he was at his core while he discovered how to develop a charismatic personality on-screen from being an introvert as he embraced the idea of television. Many felt intensely with him and for him.
After his first book titled ‘Kitchen Confidential’ confidently took on the lawless ideas surrounding his kitchen and served as a memoir of his for the public, it reached No.7 on the New York Times Bestseller Listicle. Bourdain was heavily influenced and charmed by the library in his family home. This nurtured a curious urge to pen long anecdotes on his PC of his observations of the happenings of the streets surrounding his food and his travels. His co-writer at the time showed these literary anecdotes to his wife, who was a publisher. This turned Anthony’s life around and made him a World’s Bestselling Author overnight. In the early days before modern-day hi-resolution cameras, we see a handheld camera hovering around Anthony as he goes through his day-to-day life. On the brink of deciding whether he should embrace TV or not, his second book named ‘A Cook’s Tour’ is why he would consider it.
The influence and importance of love in his life is what made him who he was a chef. He was quirky and random with his thoughts. A deep-thinker of the extreme due to his constant need and calling towards drugs. His highs with cocaine were an intense need for his drive to carry forward his life. He credited this to the way chefs want life around the kitchen to be like how it is in the kitchen- efficient, timely and organized. He questioned life in the right way, alarming those close to him. As his questions became existential, questions of how he was emotionally coping came to the fore. Some knew he needed help and tried to help or enquire, but every time they attempted to do so, he would throw them off. He would equate the high of cocaine with the high of love. An expectant sustained high. At times laced with delusion, while the other person is being who they are and being true to their intention to love and be present.
Those closest to him felt that committing suicide was unnecessary after the life he had. Their observations held that he committed wholeheartedly to them and his passion for food. He would seek answers to the next life while being in this life. Trying to answer probabilities of the next life in this life when it is unanswerable. He welcomed the uncertainty and remained grounded in his reality. A pertinent question to ask would be – why did his third marriage drive him into a dimension of permanent eternal darkness? What was the one thing he could not face? Those closest to him understood him to be a man who projected his insecurities on them, hurting them while his heart was in the right place for the most part. His mind just worked differently. His mental paradigms were expressed rather harshly bordering verbal abuse but the love of a woman ascertained that he had a gentle nature to him.
His ability to retain knowledge seemed encyclopedic. He made connections randomly to try and match his imagination. With no understanding of the real world, he knew how to create out of nothing. Many directors and producers worked with him closely and saw his little shenanigans become worse as he let his third wife take the directorial reins towards the end of his life. Their observations were that certain calls that he made were not what he would take usually. He would not disturb a highly emotional natural truth that someone had begun to narrate. Something shifted within him in this particular union. Was he trying to emulate or beautify something that was not there? Was he pushing certain buttons? No one will ever know. His death remains a scar to those close to him and the world. A tragedy brought about with knowingness and intention is an invisible crime. One that leaves us lost and within a void. But we will always raise a toast to him. His legacy. His memory. His persona.