VIDEO: Despite controversy, Anthony Bourdain championed Canadian cuisine

Bourdain travelled to Newfoundland last fall, where he ate fish and chips in Petty Harbour

As the world’s best known celebrity chef, Anthony Bourdain’s travels took him to the farthest reaches of the planet, and in so doing he became a champion of regional cuisines — including an intriguing list of uniquely Canadian dishes and venues.

Bourdain, 61, was found dead Friday in his hotel room in France. He was in Strasbourg filming an upcoming segment of his award-winning “Parts Unknown” series for CNN.

Last fall, he travelled to Newfoundland, where he ate fish and chips in Petty Harbour, jigged for cod off the tiny village of Quidi Vidi near St. John’s, and later hunted for moose in the province’s remote and rugged interior.

It was to be his last Canadian foray in a career full of them.

In 2016, he said three Montreal chefs he’d featured on “Parts Unknown” should be declared national heroes, including Fred Morin and David McMillan of Joe Beef.

“I’m a huge fan and loyalist and evangelical on the subject of Martin Picard and Fred and Dave at Joe Beef,” Bourdain told The Canadian Press. “I mean, I think they’re not just good for Montreal. They’re good for Canada. They’re good for the world.

“I’d put all three of those guys on the Canadian currency. If I were in charge of such things, they would be national heroes … The Canadian version of Mount Rushmore would have those three guys up there and maybe Jen (Agg) from Black Hoof (in Toronto) also.”

READ MORE: Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain found dead at 61

In a series of tweets Friday, Agg — who has announced she is shuttering The Black Hoof restaurant after 10 years — recalled Bourdain’s humour and generosity.

“I’m so sad for his family. I’m so sad for his friends. I’m so sad for his colleagues. I’m so sad for me,” Agg tweeted.

“He was my champion, when almost no other high-profile dudes would be. He, by example, forced them to pay attention, even if they really didn’t want to. I’ll always be grateful for that. It meant not just a lot, but everything.”

Bourdain’s love of Quebec and Montreal’s cuisine was well established. He recorded three of his shows — “No Reservations” (April 2006), ”The Layover” (December 2011), and ”Parts Unknown” (May 2013) in the province.

Joe Beef’s McMillan declined an interview request Friday, but the Facebook account for the restaurant and his own personal Twitter account carried a black square to mark Bourdain’s passing.

Morin also tweeted cryptically about Bourdain without naming him Friday, describing him as loyal and kind, posting an image of an ice fishing cabin where they ate a sumptuous lunch during one episode.

In the Newfoundland episode broadcast last month, Jeremy Charles, head chef behind Raymonds in downtown St. John’s, served Bourdain menu items and showed off the province’s splendours.

Local foodies went wild when they heard that Bourdain — described by the Smithsonian as “the original rock star” of the culinary world — was touring the province.

“You know the … commercials about the most interesting man in the world? Bourdain is him in real life,” said one fan on Twitter.

Toronto celebrity chef Mark McEwan said Bourdain was well-known for his edgy, swaggering style.

“I’ve never seen anyone drink more tequila on air, or smoke as many joints on air,” said McEwan, who had his own show on Food Network Canada called “The Heat.”

However, McEwan stressed that Bourdain never lost sight of his belief that simple, regional dishes make for the most satisfying meals.

Bourdain’s journey across Newfoundland highlighted that approach, said McEwan, also head judge on “Top Chef Canada.”

“He loved the tactile nature of it, and that they were real people of substance and character — and they live their lives more to the simple side than the glam side,” said McEwan.

“He really enjoyed that aspect of it.”

However, Bourdain’s foray to the East Coast was not without controversy, something Bourdain was used to as the culinary world’s ”Elvis of bad boy chefs.”

When a Twitter user asked why two Montreal chefs were with him on a trip to Newfoundland, Bourdain wasn’t impressed. He fired back, saying it was the two chefs’ “relentless advocacy for Newfoundland” that encouraged him to visit the province.

“Why were two ‘Frenchies’ on the last (episode) of Parts Unknown Newfoundland? Because they were solely responsible for enticing me there,” he said on Twitter.

Those behind the production of Bourdain’s show also took online heat for using the term “Newfie” in a tweet promoting the episode. The show acknowledged the criticism on Twitter and offered an apology.

In November 2014, Bourdain travelled to Wolfville, N.S., where he helped kick off the annual Devour! food and film festival. At the opening gala, he sampled offerings from a dozen chefs, and then proclaimed his fascination with the Halifax donair — a sweet and savoury meat-lovers treat that has since been declared the city’s official food.

“I look for unique foods, unique to the region,” he said in an interview with the Halifax Chronicle Herald. “It is your most famous, it’s the signature dish — like the New York dirty-water hotdog.”

Lia Rinaldo, managing director of the festival, said Bourdain made a special trip to attend the event, which celebrates cinema, food and wine culture.

“I was always amazed at how he could take and intensive political situation and translate it through food,” she said, citing a program he produced in Iran.

“Street food was one of those things that he always embraced … He was always looking for the core of whatever culture he was in. I’ll miss that part of it.”

In 2013, when Bourdain accepted a Peabody Award for his TV work, he said his storytelling was based on asking simple questions.

“What makes you happy? What do you eat? What do you like to cook? And everywhere in the world we go and ask these very simple questions, we tend to get some really astonishing answers.”

— With files from Sidhartha Banerjee in Montreal and the Associated Press

Michael MacDonald, The Canadian Press

www.facebook.com

Just Posted

Port Hardy RCMP issues warning about recent overdose

“Our primary concern is public safety. We are urging the public to be aware of what is circulating.”

Port Hardy RCMP looking for volunteers who are interested in public safety

“The volunteer program will include community and crime prevention programs”

Suspicious fire in Alert Bay burns two homes, spreads to nearby bush

Police say underage suspects have been identified

VIDEO: North Island Bantam Eagles tie Dawson Creek Canucks in front of massive hometown crowd in Port Hardy

The Tier 3 Bantam Championships continued in style last night at the Don Cruickshank Memorial Arena.

Tri-Port Midget Wild finish season with gold medal performance

The other teams were no match for the Tri-Port girls.

Protective human chain forms around Victoria mosque for Friday prayer

Islanders stand arm-in-arm to show support in aftermath of New Zealand shootings

‘Families torn apart:’ Truck driver in fatal Broncos crash gets 8-year sentence

Judge Inez Cardinal told court in Melfort, Sask., that Sidhu’s remorse and guilty plea were mitigating factors

Vancouver Island motorists attempted CPR on victim in fatal Highway 4 crash

Collision took place west of Whiskey Creek; man in his 70s died

Boy who went missing from park remains largest probe in Victoria police history

The four-year old Victoria boy went missing without a trace on March 24, 1991

WestJet sticking with Boeing 737 Max once planes certified to fly

WestJet had expected to add two more of the planes this year to increase its fleet to 13

B.C. driver caught going 207 km/h on motorcycle along Okanagan Highway

A motorcyclist was caught by Kelowna RCMP going 207 km/h on Highway 97C

Protective human chain forms around B.C. mosque for Friday prayer

Vancouver Islanders stand arm-in-arm to show support in aftermath of New Zealand shootings

Motorcyclist dies after three-vehicle crash on old Island Highway

Accident happened at 12:15 p.m. Friday near Country Club Centre in Nanaimo

B.C. fire department offers tips to keep your home safe during wildfire season

With wildfire season getting closer, the Penticton Fire Dept. offer tips to keep your home safe

Most Read