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Top Chef head judge and executive producer Tom Colicchio recalls when Anthony Bourdain gave him a shout out in his book Kitchen Confidential, released in 2000.
“Prior to Kitchen Confidential, I didn’t know Anthony, but like all young chefs, I read the book. He took the scab off the industry,” Colicchio tells The Hollywood Reporter. “If you were in the book you generally got slammed, but he mentioned me at the end as one of the guys who got it. When we eventually met, both of our party days were well behind us.”
Bourdain died of apparent suicide on Friday, and many of his colleagues in the culinary and film worlds are paying tribute to the television chef.
Bourdain appeared on Colicchio’s Top Chef as a guest judge and then later as a judge in 2010 and 2011 (the Bravo reality show began in 2006).
Colicchio joined Bourdain in December to speak out in support of allegations of sexual harassment against fellow chef Mario Batali. “What we are going to miss is the best of him,” Colicchio tells THR. “He was willing to speak up and he came out strongly against sexual harassment in our industry. Privately we talked about it, and it was good to have someone who was willing to put himself out there.”
Colicchio discusses Bourdain’s legacy and believes the best was yet to come in his career. “He was really a writer — originally a struggling one who was writing murder mysteries under a different name — and he wound up in the kitchen. He was thoughtful and found a way to fit into the food world when he no longer wanted to cook. I feel that the best was yet to come and now those stories aren’t going to be told.”
He adds of his death: “We are all grappling with the fact that it’s hard to understand how he was in that dark place and didn’t find help, and I feel really bad that his best friend had to find him. It’s so rough, and I don’t know how to process it.”
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