“You learn a lot about someone when you share a meal together.”– Anthony Bourdain
Part One of this piece can be read HERE
The barman informs us the drinks are courtesy of the table across the room, as he produces two hefty double measures of Bourbon, followed, bleakly, by the same measures of pickle brine. Mary-Ellen McTague, the well renowned and well travelled chef and owner of Chorlton’s The Creameries and my drinking partner for the evening, exhales a doomed sigh of acceptance, like a mobster boxed in by a rival family’s firing squad. We shoot each other an ‘oh shit’ and quickly glug back our fates. Our second round of picklebacks tartly tormenting our stomachs, Mary-Ellen’s friends on the opposite table, the culprits of our incoming downfall, all now sporting the appropriate Cheshire Cat complexions. Fuckers. “In fairness,” Mary-Ellen surmises, “top shelf bourbon and pickle juice feels like a very Bourdain round of drinks.”
Just two days earlier, far away from Hawksmoor’s Don Draper demeanour, a bench outside the Northern Quarter’s Wheatsheaf is occupied by India Morris, the self proclaimed ‘Professional Bullshitter’ (a job title we should all aspire towards, tbh), ‘Croissant Connoisseur’ and, perhaps most brilliantly, ‘Mother of Whippets’. Chances are, if you’ve spent more than a minute in the Northern Quarter, you will have seen or encountered India, such is her affinity and devotion to the neighbourhood. There are rumours that, on the rare occasions she steps foot outside it’s boundaries, her entire body grinds to a halt, much like when you push a shopping trolley off the car park at ASDA. Her work as Director of Pear COMMS keeps her well occupied with many of the city’s most exciting dining establishments. Add to this mix her penchant for pints in old pubs and street corner butty shops and India was a natural fit to talk about Anthony Bourdain with.
“I’d bring Anthony Bourdain to the Wheatsheaf. It’s funny as fuck. You just come and have a pint, everyone’s mental, he’d love it here.”– India Morris
It’s hard to fuck with that statement. Knowing the frequency with which Bourdain would belly up to a bar, mid-afternoon for a Guinness or four, taking in the locals, unflinching in his dedication to the black stuff and cheap, cold beer, away from the craft ale crowd, the Parts Unknown Powerhouse would have been right at home at The Wheatsheaf, where the conversations transition seamlessly from previous lives selling stolen goods in corner shops to one of the regulars discovering a rogue dildo in their wheelie bin.
As one of the founders of the PPA award-winning Restaurant magazine and the 50 Best Restaurants in the World awards, on top of his tremendous work as a speaker, consultant and writer on food and drink and art and culture in the North of England, Thom Hetherington is as firmly entrenched in Mancunian hospitality as anyone. Oh, and he also has a previous with Bourdain himself. But more on that a little later.
The final contributor to this two part series on all things Bourdain is Carl Anka. A newcomer to the city as The Athletic’s Manchester United reporter, Carl recently collaborated with Marcus Rashford on the writing of the real leader of the country’s ‘You Are A Champion’ book, which has topped the bestseller charts for the last four weeks now. You will also likely know him from his numerous television and radio appearances, fighting the good fight for Mental Health and writing for the likes of The Guardian, Vice, GQ, BBC and NME. Oh, and he has a podcast with Ian Wright. Yes it’s brilliant and yes you should be listening to it.
Originally from London, Carl settled in Manchester last summer, meaning a pandemic ridden 10 months in which experiencing the city’s true culture and identity hasn’t always been straightforward. But as a Bourdain devotee who is experiencing Manchester as a new arrival, armed with the great man’s life lessons about travel and immersing yourself in new places, Carl made too much sense not to talk to on Bourdain Day.
“The bit of Bourdain wisdom that made it easier for me to settle in Manchester was ‘Go and find people’s junk food if you want to understand a people.’ That stuck with me.”– Carl Anka
He would have been 65 today, Bourdain. Sixty five. An Old Age Pensioner here in the UK. Retirement age. Obviously, none of those words would have ever actually applied to him. There was never going to be a retirement for a man who’s appetite for life was so enormous while he was still here. While we may never know why Bourdain chose to end his own life in that Strasbourg hotel room on 8th June, 2018, we do know that when he was with us, he wanted to consume as much of everything as humanly possible.
But where would our chosen quartet most like to spend their ideal ‘Bourdain Day’ in honour of our favourite consumer of ‘meat in tube form’s’ birthday?
Thom’s aforementioned previous with Bourdain is actually the most tragically hilarious ‘Bourdain Day’ in itself, so we’ll save that for dessert. Actually, no, it’s more of a 3am kebab than a dessert. You’ll see why in a little bit.
With * gestures vaguely towards outside * all this that’s been going on, Carl may not be able to provide a blow-by-blow account of which eateries and drinking dens he would venture in and out of, but he knows exactly where he would have taken Bourdain had the opportunity ever presented itself.
“Lockdown means I haven’t experienced too many places in Manchester since moving, but I would probably take him to Rita’s Reign Street Food, which opens on Piccadilly Street Food Market Wednesday to Sunday.
“I’d get him a combi box, and make a joke about how serving jollof rice AND rice and peas in the same dish is a diaspora link up and get him an extra dumpling. Then I’d take him on a walk of the canals and ask him about plantain.“
While Carl and Uncle Tony meander slowly round the canals of Manchester with their jollof and extra dumplings, where are Mary-Ellen and India starting their day?
Breakfast Butties and Gloomy Glamour
“So my Bourdain Day would start with champagne and oysters, with my two best mates, Kate and Becky and it’s gonna be Hawksmoor,” begins Mary-Ellen, prior to our own visit to Hawksmoor, sequestered as we are to the rear of The Refuge’s terrace, The Creameries owner delightedly devouring a stunningly retro looking plate of charcuterie courtesy of Bada Bing, while I attempt to tackle their monstrously magical shrimp Po’boy.
“I just love it at Hawksmoor, I love the gloominess of the bar. I think we’d have lunch there too. We’d probably meet around half 11 for champagne and oysters, so that would take us to around three o’ clock.”
India, meanwhile, keeps it a little more low key with her morning festivities.
“I spend most of my time on Tib Street. I never really leave, it’s like a running joke. I’d start my day at Rustica, it’s my favourite spot in town, so that would be my first port of call, especially if I’m hungover. It’s got the best butties and Lynne, who works there, everyone calls her Auntie Lynne, she’s so friendly and they’ve got everything. You can ask them for the most obscure sandwich in the world and they’ll make it. I bought someone a sandwich from there the other day and they were just like ‘this is the best butty I’ve ever had’, so that’s all you need to know.
“It’s a spot where everyone knows each other and everyone’s fucking sound. The women who work there are like everybody’s auntie. I’ve met so many people there as well. If you bump into somebody enough outside there you become friends with them. No one’s an arsehole there.”– India Morris
“Then, I always get a coffee from Just Between Friends and a bunch of flowers from Northern Flower, then onto Butchers’ Quarter, I always get stuff from there. I always speak to Graham in there, and Will, I’ll just say ‘Right, I want to buy some charcuterie, here’s a tenner, just gimme whatever you can’ and they’re fucking sound, they know everything about deli stuff.
“From there I’d get myself a second breakfast. I go to Eastern Bloc, always with my Dad. They do the best breakfast in there. I don’t think anybody really knows about it. It’s really weird but I always order the veggie breakfast but then add a black pudding. Black pudding’s the one.“
Second breakfasts and final tipples of champagne promptly seen off, lunch is on the horizon which, for Mary-Ellen, doesn’t require much movement.
Lunch: Curries, Kebabs and Cocktails
“My Hawksmoor lunch order is to have a Perfect Lady or Hemingway Daquiri off their cocktail menu then we move through to the dining room and start with probably the scallops and a glass of white wine, followed by the rib eye with chips and anchovy hollandaise AND stichelton hollandaise. I feel like I’m cheating a bit by staying there for lunch as well but it’s just once you’re there it’s so hard to leave.
Continuing the pick ‘n’ mix trend of her visit to the Butcher’s Quarter, India shifts her attention towards the Arndale Market.
“I’d head to the fish market in the Arndale and get like a fiver’s worth of anchovies in a massive bag. They’ve got garlic ones, chilli ones, all sorts. I usually go in at the end of the day and give them a tenner and the blokes always look at me weird, like ‘you just want us to pick the fish?’ After they’ve just bagged up a fiver’s worth of anchovies for me, which is loads.
“I don’t think I ever really eat proper meals, it’s just a pick ’n’ mix of the best shit in Manchester.
“Yadgars is another great spot. I’m obsessed with their instagram. I have no idea what goes through his head, from the initial thought to what he posts. I have the best chats with the guy in there, about absolutely nothing. I went in there and chatted to him for about 20 minutes about card machines and Deliveroo, asking him if he was going to get Yadgars on there and he just said “I’m working on it”. How long you been working on it for? Five years?
“I’m allergic to ginger, so if I eat from there I’ll suffer, but it is worth it. Sitting in there is an experience. The guy who owns it never smiled or spoke to me for like a year and I kept aggressively waving at him every time I walked past until one day he smiled at me and now we’re friends. I ground him down for over a year being overly friendly.
“So that would be a little tour of Tib Street and Hilton Street, they’re my favourite spots round here. I think Levy Bakery would be on there as well. I’ve only been once but it’s the best kebab I’ve ever had. Somebody convinced me to go there and the chicken shawarma was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. It was fucking banging.
“Eat and Sweet would need visiting as well, opposite Jerk Shack. I’d never had a patty before from anywhere and when I went there it changed my life. I took one bite and was like ‘I’m never going Greggs again’. I had the lamb one and my mind was blown. When I’m hungover and if I’ve not gone Rustica, that’s where I go. It’s a family business and the woman who works there is so fucking sound, so I’d definitely go there for a patty.“
Stomachs well and truly brimming with rib eyes and various Indian and Caribbean delights, thoughts then turn towards the evening, where decisions must be made about where weary, well fed and watered bodies will be best served. Fortunately, this duo know more than a few places.
Evening Meals: Private Banquets and ’90s Hip Hop
There is a lot to be said for exercise during a full day session. Yes, that does sound borderline sacrilegious when the fundamental basis of the day is to make merry over tables full of regularly emptying plates and glasses. But sometimes a good stagger across town can clear the cobwebs enough to sober you up just the right amount to generate a second or third wind that will see you past the finishing line with a final flourish. It’s a tactic Mary-Ellen demonstrates admirably.
“From Erst I’d want to go to Siam Smiles, so that’s a good 25 minute stagger, having a lovely time and massive chats but we’re also ready for noodles. Really fucking great noodles, so I’ll order absolutely everything. Then once we’re done there, the perfect end to the night is to get a load of booze and go back to one of our houses and dance on the tables. The playlist is usually a lot of ‘90s hip hop, Prince, Madonna, Candi Staton, Mantronix.”– Mary-Ellen McTague
For India, something a touch more private is required.
“I’m obsessed with Mama Z (hey, remember her from Part One?). All the food she makes on her instagram makes me so happy. So if I wanted to enjoy the best food in Manchester I’d have her come to my house and be my personal chef for part of the day. Just for me, not my mates. It’d just be me having like six dinners. I used to live in Cambodia and the only thing I’ve ever really missed in my life is this Cambodian breakfast called bai sach chrouk, which is just like a pork and rice dish with pickled vegetables, rendered fat and a fried egg on top and Mama Z made a Fillipino breakfast the other day on her instagram that reminded me of that and I wanted it straight away.
“If I absolutely had to go out and eat with people, though, the first place I’ve ever been to where I’ve been completely overwhelmed by how good it was, was District. Mate, I’ve never been somewhere where I come out and immediately want to tell everyone I know about it. The whole concept behind it is so clever, it’s part of the community that offers a new way of dining in the Northern Quarter. It’s not just some brunch spot or another Thai restaurant. We were in there for three hours, we did the full tasting menu, although I could only eat half of it because of my ginger allergy, but my mate Jacob came with me and he’s obsessed with South East Asian food and he ate all of it. The wine choices matched all the dishes, the cocktails are properly thought out, they’re made using Asian flavours so it’s not just like ‘here, have a Pornstar Martini’. It was an experience rather than just dining. It was like a night out.“
Mary-Ellen now, presumably, atop her kitchen table belting out ‘When Doves Cry’, India decides to finish up in the warm embrace of her faithful Northern Quarter and a spot where she has grown up for the last 10 years.
“At the end of the night I’d be going Soup Kitchen. Soup Kitchen’s like my second home. I’ve been going in there since I was 18. I’m 28 now. I get looked after in there cos I’ve been going in so long. The reason I live in Manchester now is because of Soup Kitchen because I met all my friends in there. My mates all work there, I know all the bar staff, it’s my favourite spot. It’s like another living room. It was best when they had the big long benches and you all squashed on, you and your mates, chaos everywhere. If we used to say ‘shall I meet you in town?’ We’d always say ‘yeah I’ll meet you at the spot’ and it was there. The best stuff in my life has happened in there.
“Soup Kitchen’s one of those places where you see the next generation of people coming through. Me and my mates would sit there going ‘who are they?’ But that was once me starting out. We would go every Friday, every Saturday and every Sunday. And the Sunday club was a load of us hanging out of our arses going ‘just give us more pints, please’. I’ve spent more time there than anywhere else in Manchester. That’s where I’ve grown up.”
“The thing is, I actually don’t think the food is what’s most important, it’s the spots. There’s so much importance behind who works somewhere and how they speak to you. It’s just nice to know people in a place you keep going back to.“– India Morris
So, what of Thom Hetherington and his meeting with the man himself? Well, allow the CEO of Holden Media to tell you himself…
“Back in the late 90’s, long before social media became the platform du jour for opinions and arguments, napkin-sniffing food nerds used to huddle around an online forum called eGullet. There, a community of chefs, food writers and food geeks used to post their own restaurant reviews, often with amateurish photos, usually taken on outsize SLR cameras, much to the annoyance of other diners.
“I was a member, and through the site I established friendships and connections with industry legends such as Jay Rayner, Marina O’Loughlin, Shaun Hill and, just slightly, one Anthony Bourdain. So when, in 2004, Manchester Food and Drink Festival organised a collab dinner by Anthony Bourdain and Fergus Henderson, of the legendary St John, I signed up in a heartbeat and slid into his DMs.
“I’d offered to take him out afterwards, for a proper Mancunian night out, so once the dinner was over (which sadly was cooked by the in-house team at the venue rather than the great men themselves) he and I, and a small group of equally obsessive food geeks and tag-along acolytes, set off into the night. My plan was to take him to my local, the most wonderful and Mancunian of pubs, The Marble Arch.
“There were a variety of reasons for this. Firstly writers and chefs crave authenticity and typicalism. If you go to Valencia you want to eat paella not pasta. If you come to England, to Manchester, you go to a pub. Secondly The Marble Arch is staggeringly beautiful and completely unexpected, and writers love a wonderful surprise. Thirdly it had an award-winning micro-brewery, and chefs like product and provenance.– Thom Hetherington
“But I had a fourth ace up my sleeve, as it truly was my local. We lived about 200m away at the time, and I was always in there so the manager had become a mate, and we always tended to stay for lock-ins, complete with the pub dog, drinking and telling stories in front of the fire. This is what I knew would blow Anthony away – The idea that through local contacts he was getting a ‘real’ and spontaneous off-menu experience.
“And then it all started to go wrong.– Thom Hetherington
“Firstly, there were no taxis. Secondly, it’s amazing how far away the arse end of Rochdale Road seems when you’re trying to walk a gaggle of uncertain tourists through what was, back then, a fairly post-apocalyptic stretch of wasteland. It may have rained, or I may have added that detail to heighten the trauma of the memory. Anyway eventually we made it through the door, not long before closing, but I had my plan.
“But I didn’t. My mate was nowhere to be seen. I think we might have at least got a round in – the sheer residual horror has blurred the memories – but when I tried to ask the replacement manager, who I didn’t know from Eve, about a lock-in I got an icy “No.” I’m ashamed to say that I wheedled and cajoled, out of desperation and rising panic, but that only led her to suggest, sharply, that we drunk up and left.
“But this is Anthony Bourdain” I whispered, loudly enough to cut through the pub chatter, “I’ve brought him here specially. Anthony! Bourdain!” No flicker of recognition, and certainly no lock-in.– Thom Hetherington
“So with no ceremony whatsoever we turned around and trudged back down Rochdale Road, through the post-apocalyptic wasteland, in the – possibly imaginary – rain. All the way down I juggled the twin duties of keeping everyone’s sprits up – they were visibly drooping – and coming up with a Plan B. Where was likely to be open late, nearby, mid-week? In Manchester? In 2004? There had to be somewhere?!
“In the end a few of us went to the legendary Socio Rehab for cocktails, but Anthony did not. Instead he returned to his hotel, proclaiming himself tired. But I knew the real reason – It was because I, Thom Hetherington, had given Anthony Bourdain, one of the greatest chefs and food writers of all time, the shittest night out ever, in my home city, a city famed for its endless parties and gastronomic renaissance.
“It’s important to stress the manager in the Marble Arch owed us nothing and behaved entirely correctly. I should have planned better, and I should have contacted everyone involved in the plan up front (from a taxi company to the pub, and yes Socio Rehab for after afters) to confirm said plans. I should have had mobile numbers for every individual, and I should have checked and double-checked and checked again.
“So if anyone has ever wondered why I am so penickity and OCD about organising anything, and why I plot something as simple as taking a visiting journalist around Manchester as meticulously as a military manoeuvre, it’s because I was shaped, indeed scarred, by my disappointing night out with Anthony Bourdain.”
Spectacular, isn’t it?
So what of legacy and life lessons learned from Anthony Bourdain? That wondrous human being who so many of us feel like we knew as a wise, well travelled uncle, who would periodically drop by for a debauched night of strong liquor, smelly cheese and sage advice. How did he affect the characters of this piece?
“Kitchen Confidential was absolutely pivotal for me” remembers Mary-Ellen over a large glass of Sauvignon Blanc. “I was in my first year of cooking, not doing very well, I didn’t feel like I belonged. I was the only woman in the kitchen at Sharrow Bay, in Ullswater, where I was working at the time. I was the first woman ever to work in the kitchen there. They’d been open just post-war and this was the early 2000’s. So I was in this place where I really wanted to do well but the people around me really didn’t want me there, so half of it was hellish but then the other half, when you got through a full service and absolutely nailed it without a bollocking, was addictive.
“But the two head chefs in the main kitchen never made eye contact with me. They never spoke to me directly for about a year. They just didn’t know what to do with me. One of them was a Spanish guy, in his mid ’50s and he would ask people to ask me to do something, and his name for me was ‘Young Cunt’, so he’d say ‘get young cunt to do this…’ and I’d be there, I could hear him. They just had no use for me.
“So I’m hating it, but also wanting to do well as a ‘fuck you’ to the way I was being treated, for them trying to make out that a woman wasn’t welcome somewhere.
“I read Kitchen Confidential and there were so many things about it, like the timing of it, for me that made it so pivotal. He was describing what I was living and describing the bits of it that were hellish and the bits of it that I enjoyed and I thought ‘oh fucking hell, it’s not just me.’”– Mary-Ellen McTague
“Reading Kitchen Confidential made everything feel poetic, like when you’re looking at musicians and seeing the glamour of what is a pretty gritty lifestyle. He took the aspects of the work that were mundane or a bit grim and elevated them somehow and I thought ‘OK, maybe this is alright’. It was just the perfect, most formative time for me to come across that book.
“There’s every chance I wouldn’t have carried on with cooking if it wasn’t for Kitchen Confidential.“– Mary-Ellen McTague
“I revisited it later and was just like ‘fucking hell’. He, intellectually and socially, was way ahead of anybody who had spent any time in a kitchen. I was probably a bit in love with him. Here I was reading a book by someone who believed women had a place in the kitchen, although by today’s standards it was probably a little clumsily done but he was still saying ‘this is right/this is wrong and there’s absolutely no reason why a woman in any kitchen should be treated any differently’ and that just struck such a chord with me. Then add the glamour and the rock and roll’ ness of it, which was very alluring and how brilliantly written it was, it was exciting to feel like part of his world, like ‘I’m one of them, I’m in that club’ which felt brilliant.“
The lessons that stuck with Carl stem from Bourdain’s pre-television days, with Kitchen Confidential providing almost a mantra for a future way of thinking.
“I remember first finishing Kitchen Confidential and my first comment was ‘Oh, they’re pirates’. Bourdain made every restaurant seem like a unique pirate ship, filled with a strange array of people all busting their ass to give customers a wonderful evening. The best parts of that book weren’t discussing menus, and demi glazes, but all of the strange people he worked with; what made certain crews stick together, what made others too freewheeling.
“The idea you could work as hard as shit, for little recognition on the idea that it could make someone you’ve never met have a nice day stuck with me. ‘Do something good recklessly because you can. Because you enjoy doing it.’
“Then I moved to Bourdain’s television programmes and went further into food as a way of understanding people. He was curious, but never used his intelligence as a weapon to beat others over the head with. He was a good chef, but if he met someone who had been practising the same dish for 25 years every day he would revere their craft and make sure they understood how special they were.– Carl Anka
“Bourdain was a rare person who liked a thing, and then would go out of his way to show said thing to the world and teach the story behind it, hoping it would spark something in them too.”
“There was a story that emerged not long after Bourdain’s passing about a waiter who was behind him in the queue for some sort of pop up restaurant. You know the story. Young person sees famous person, gets too nervous to introduce themselves, but does the whole, ‘Oh my god it’s famous person’ whispering that is probably a bit too loud and accidentally gets the attention of famous person?
“Anyway, the bit that stuck with me, and still sticks with me is Bourdain’s response to the tittering behind him. He apparently had some food with him while he was waiting in the queue, and spun round and offered it to the person name dropping him.
“Hey kid, you hungry?”
“I think about that story a lot. Bourdain always struck me as a person who, if he had two, and noticed you had none, he would make sure you got one.
“He was curious. Properly curious. Always tinkering and toying with ideas, but also humble enough to go ‘This is beyond me!’ and getting help. And he talked about the help all the time.
“He wasn’t afraid of saying he was wrong. He wasn’t afraid of speaking truth to power. He was a genius who repeatedly told others not to call him a genius, but to instead recognise all of the people who helped get him to this point. He drank. He fucked. He fucked up. Sometimes you could see him be visibly hacked off with everything and decide something wasn’t worth it, and then take a few deep blinks, realise things are only worth what effort is put in, and then renew himself.– Carl Anka
“He looked at other people, saw if they were hungry, for food, for knowledge, for caring, for a general good time, and then would try and give that to them.“
When I ask Thom what Anthony Bourdain means to him, outside of a failed lock-in 17 years ago, his answer is simply “Endless curiosity”, which, similar to India’s assertion that Bourdain would have buzzed off The Wheatsheaf, is an answer that is seriously unfuckwithable.
And finally, while we know where Carl and India would take the great man for a meal in Manchester, what of Mary-Ellen and Thom’s choices for a sit-down with the Les Halles hell raiser?
Were Thom given a do over of his 2004 disaster, he’d opt for a couple of Mancunian institutions.
“I’d take him to two places, because a man needs to both eat and drink.
“Firstly a kebab or rice ‘n’ three at Café Marhaba, a curry café so good I ate their every single week day for a year back in 1995, during which I gained at least a stone. It is tiny, a little grungy, it’s hidden away, it’s been there forever, it’s blisteringly authentic, absolutely delicious, and the family who run it (it has passed from father to son in recent years) are wonderful. If that isn’t playing Anthony’s tune I don’t know what is.
“Following that it would be a pint, or several, in The Circus. We’d go here because it is probably the most Mancunian pub ever, steeped in the very essence of the city, and is full of a cast of long-serving characters who could grace a Damon Runyon novel. You cannot go to The Circus without getting drawn into the most fascinating of conversations with complete strangers, which is kind of what a pub is all about. I have no doubt that Anthony would be swept away by the storytelling and the warmth.“
Mary-Ellen, on the other hand, would find it hard to budge from the debonair dark wood of Hawksmoor, but would make an exception for one establishment that is very close to her heart.
“If I was going to take Bourdain anywhere in Manchester, I’d take him to Hawksmoor. For me it’s not even that it’s empirically the best food and drink, although it’s brilliant at both of those things, it’s just how it feels and it feels amazing. It feels like home a little bit. It’s accessible, I can take my children, I can take my auntie, but I can also go in for a meeting or like a while ago, I had a magic stolen hour to myself in town one afternoon, which never happens, and I got in there, ordered a martini, chips and anchovy hollandaise and calmed down. It was perfect. And we don’t really have anything else like it in Manchester. In London and New York and Paris there’s things like it, but not here.
“So we’d have drinks there definitely, and chips with anchovy hollandaise, but then I’d also want to cook for him at The Creameries. That would be the dream. I think we’ve got the right balance of chaos and calm that he’d enjoy.”
So, over two parts and roughly 10,000 words, you have learned where some of our glorious city’s most wonderful, talented chefs, writers and characters would spend their ideal Bourdain Day. You have learned what they have learned and now, on Bourdain’s 65th Birthday there’s really only one more thing to do. Get out there, explore, eat, drink, talk and listen.
Order that dish you’ve always wondered about but opted against at the last minute. Or don’t. Stick with your usual and be content in the simple pleasure of your favourite meal with your favourite people. Veer off the beaten track, have faith in the back alley cafe and treat yourself at the restaurant that is stockpiling awards like dirty dishes after another sold out service. Cook your favourite person something heartfelt at night and then first thing the following morning. Take all the frustrations of the last 16 months and pile them into a day of wreckless abandon and enjoyment in honour of one of the world’s most relentlessly exciting adventurers. Do it for Tony.
Happy Birthday, Tony. We miss you.