Tuesday 21 January, 2020

Trinis remember time spent with Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain’s death has sent shockwaves across the world including Trinidad and Tobago where he spent some time filming an episode of his CNN show Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. The show aired on June 25, 2017.

While in T&T, Bourdain got a taste of the steel pan, experienced a river lime and dined with the Syrian community, comments from which sparked controversy for many days following the airing of the show.

We spoke to some of the people who met and interacted with the popular chef turned journalist about their reaction to his death and their memories of him.

Lorraine O’Connor worked as the liaison for Bourdain’s team in T&T. She told Loop she is in shock and disbelief at the news.

“Everybody has their demons and he was open about depression but I would never imagine he would have taken his life,” she said.

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Asked her impression of Bourdain while she worked with him in T&T, she said he was focused on the job and was distant and aloof.

“But I understood. He is travelling and every week he travels he is meeting new people all the time. He wasn’t effusive but towards the end after the pan he got excited,” she said.

Soca artist Kees Dieffenthaller who got the opportunity to hang out with Bourdain at a river lime said he was in shock as well.

“He was just one of the most natural people, just what I expected, cool, relaxed, very pure towards what was pure, not into the façade;  he wanted to get to the real thing. At the river lime, he fit right in, he didn’t need time to warm up. Off screen and on screen he was still him despite all the accolades. He influenced me in my life, affected the way I travel, how I see things,” he told Loop.

Mario Sabga-Aboud, Chairman of the Global Brands Group of Companies, said the news of Bourdain’s passing was very, very sad.

Reminiscing about the time he and his family spent with Bourdain, Sabga-Aboud said he was a wonderful and entertaining gentleman.

“He had a wealth of knowledge from his travelling, he could talk about any subject,” he said.

Muhammed Muwakil, the Freetown Collective singer who was lucky to have hosted Bourdain at his home, said his grandmother, the breakout star of the T&T episode, woke him up with the news as though a family member had died. 

Recalling the time Bourdain spent at his home, Muwakil said it was so surreal. 

"I used to religiously watch his show for years and years. When he came, he was a totally abnormally normal human being and he is a frigging giant, he is huge like 6 feet 4, you don't really realise how big he is. He was warm and welcoming and he seemed genuinely interested in understanding where we were and our condition. He said he was going through Trinidad and was getting only one layer and he wanted to know more," he said.

Commenting on reports that Bourdain took his life, Muwakil said: "I feel as though there are those of us through experiences, through travel, through living we get these birds' eye views of the world and we realise humanity cycles down and it is difficult for people who see the light to grapple with the human condition. Sometimes it is that they fully understand, they get it and that is tough, there are no illusions to hide behind." 


If you feel you need support, please contact Lifeline at their new toll-free number: 800-5588, 231-2824, and 220-3636 or the Suicide Hotline at 645-2800 or 645-6616. The Ministry of Social Development has shared a list of resources for mental health and abuse support.

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