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Anthony Bourdain Considered Detroit ‘A Uniquely Great City’

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The chef, author, and world traveler was a champion for Detroit and its people

Anthony Bourdain with Charlie LeDuff in Detroit during the filming of Parts Unknown in 2013.
Parts Unknown/Facebook

It’s an extremely sad day, as Anthony Bourdain — celebrated chef, author, and travel host — has died at the age of 61. Bourdain was found unresponsive in his hotel room while filming an episode of Parts Unknown in France. The cause of death was reportedly suicide.

As the host of CNN’s Parts Unknown and Travel Channel’s No Reservations, Bourdain had undeniably powerful influence as the lens through which people viewed and experienced food in cities around the world. Such was the case in Detroit, which Bourdain visited while filming an episode of Parts Unknown in July of 2013. The episode aired that fall, highlighting a broad spectrum of Detroit’s food community — from Cutter’s Bar & Grill to Vicki’s Barbecue — in the midst of the city’s bankruptcy. At Duly’s Place in southwest Detroit, Bourdain used two hands to devour his third-ever and “best” coney.

Shortly after the episode aired, Bourdain wrote his own tribute, in quintessentially self-deprecating style, to Detroit. “I love Detroit. I love Detroiters,” he said. “You’ve got to have a sense of humor to live in a city so relentlessly fucked. You’ve got to be tough — and occasionally even devious. And Detroiters are funny, tough — and supreme improvisers. They are also among the best and most fun drinkers in the country.”

The Cutter's Staff lifts the family of Anthony Bourdain in our prayers during this difficult time. As a business we are...

Posted by Cutter's Bar & Grill on Friday, June 8, 2018

Bourdain never missed a chance to champion Detroit. He was candid about his love and optimism for Detroit in an interview with Detroit Free Press critic Mark Kurlyandchik in 2016. “I feel anger seeing the extent to which it has been allowed to crumble. I feel hopeful. And I feel a tremendous appreciation that people have stuck it out and are proud of their city. They’re loyal to it,” he said. “It’s truly a great city and the font of so many important American economic and cultural improvisations and movements. That it could have been allowed to come close to failing is a national disgrace.”

That same year, Bourdain and his production company Zero Point Zero began working on a four-part documentary called Detroit 1963: Once a Great City. The series, which was set to air on CNN in 2018, was based on the book of the same name by David Maraniss. The project, Bourdain told Eater last year, was “inspired by my longtime love and appreciation for a uniquely great city.”


If you or anyone you know is considering suicide or self-harm or is anxious, depressed, upset, or needs to talk, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text the Crisis Text Line at 741-741. For international resources, here is a good place to begin.

Anthony Bourdain Dead at 61 [ED]
Anthony Bourdain’s New CNN Documentary Is All About Detroit [ED]
Kick Out The Jams [Anthony Bourdain Tumblr]
Anthony Bourdain: I’d Love to Be Able to Say I’m From Detroit [Freep]

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