Chef Eric Ripert Reflects On Anthony Bourdain's Legacy - Exclusive

The life and loss of culinary storyteller Anthony Bourdain has touched countless people around the world — but arguably few more so than his dear friend and fellow chef Eric Ripert. "I met Anthony when 'Kitchen Confidential' came out, and then the friendship was almost immediate," Ripert told Mashed in an exclusive interview. The two worked together and traveled together frequently, both for business and pleasure, until Bourdain's death in 2018. "We had a very special relationship, although we were very different," he admits, but insists that made for "a good dynamic ... based on respect and loyalty." 

So perhaps no one is more equipped than Ripert to reflect on the far-reaching and lasting legacy of the man fondly known as Tony — a revered chef, award-winning journalist, inspirational global citizen, and above all, a friend loved by many. While speaking with Mashed recently about his own achievements and culinary pursuits, Chef Ripert took some time to reflect on the legacy Bourdain left for the world: one that goes way beyond the kitchen.

Anthony Bourdain changed more than just the culinary world, says Eric Ripert

Many people would agree that Anthony Bourdain profoundly changed the way we eat. But if you ask Eric Ripert, his influence goes so much further than that. "Anthony's legacy is not only to the culinary world, it's to [the entire] world," he told Mashed. 

From his very first book, "Kitchen Confidential," to his numerous television shows, including "A Cook's Tour," "No Reservations," and "Parts Unknown," Bourdain revealed the raw — and very real — sides of the culinary industry we tend to glamorize, the global food systems we take for granted, and the cultures and cuisines we overexploit (and usually underappreciate). His work "changed the way we think about food, but it also changed journalism," says Ripert, who adds that his friend Bourdain "was also [an inspiration] to travel and to discover new cultures, be humble and curious, and learn through those experiences."

It's difficult to sum up Bourdain's impact on the world, and how we should carry his legacy forward. But as Ripert suggests, maybe it's as simple as the resolve to pay more attention to what's on your plate and "discover cultures through eating" along the way. "This is basically one of the biggest legacies of Anthony," he said.

You can learn more about Eric Ripert's work with City Harvest on their website. If you want to show more support, click here to make a donation to help feed people in need.