Anthony Bourdain Was More Than A Chef, He Was A Human Rights Champion

The "Parts Unknown" chef not only delved deep into the experiences of the food he was eating, but also opened many eyes to injustices around the world.

Anthony Bourdain at the Emmy Awards.

The sudden and tragic death of celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain left much of the world speechless. Not only was Bourdain a talented chef and wordsmith, but he was also a strong promoter of human rights across the globe.

Bourdain, for example, believed strongly in supporting immigrants coming to the United States and recognized that they were a big part of restaurants and kitchens across the land.

“If [then candidate for president Donald] Trump deports 11 million people or whatever he’s talking about right now, every restaurant in America would shut down,” Bourdain said in 2015.

But beyond the industry he loved, Bourdain recognized that the topic of immigration delved deeper toward defining what truly characterized our nation.

“This is no longer about the hospitality industry,” he said. “It’s about the very nature of America and what kind of country we want to be.”

Bourdain wasn’t just critical of the United States, however. He also saw human injustices in countries half a world away, including in Israel.

In 2014, Bourdain won an award from the Muslim Public Affairs Council for a “Parts Unknown” episode he filmed in Gaza.

Bourdain said he was particularly surprised by the number of people who responded positively for his episode.

“I was enormously grateful for the response from Palestinians in particular for doing what seemed to me an ordinary thing, something we do all the time: show regular people doing everyday things, cooking and enjoying meals, playing with their children, talking about their lives, their hopes and dreams,” he said.

“It is a measure I guess of how twisted and shallow our depiction of a people is that these images come as a shock to so many. The world has visited many terrible things on the Palestinian people, none more shameful than robbing them of their basic humanity," he added.

The world has truly lost a unique person who has given us some amazing perspectives. These have not just been on the food he’s eaten or the recipes he’s had the pleasure of sharing with us, but also the people he’s met. Bourdain provided us with a deeper understanding and a reminder that despite some differences, we’re all part of the human race and deserve to be treated as such.

Thumbnail/Banner Credit: Lucas Jackson/Reuters


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