Anthony Michael Bourdain was an American celebrity chef, author and television personality. He was noted by popular sources as one of the most influential chefs in the world.”

That’s what Wikipedia says aboutAnthony Bourdain, who evidently killed himself last night. But Bourdain, although he worked as a chef, shouldn’t be remembered as one. He, like Brillat-Savarin and MFK Fisher, should be remembered as a food philosopher—an interpreter of the importance of food as something beyond satiation, as something essential not just to human survival but to human culture. He understood and tried to make the rest of us understand that sharing food is a ritual, that to understand a culture you must eat its food.

And he appreciated food beyond its taste and even its aroma; he recognized the labor, the slaughter, the ugliness in eating but maintained his passion even with a knowledge of food’s dark side.

His early piece in The New Yorker sums it up: “Gastronomy is the science of pain.”

Evidently, Bourdain felt that pain all too fiercely.

RIP, Mr. Bourdain. And thank you.

Bourdain
Photo by NPR