Celebrity chef and television host Anthony Bourdain, who died in France at the age of 61, is being remembered for his advocacy and allyship in the #MeToo movement.
Bourdain openly discussed and criticized harassment and assault issues in the food industry — and Bourdain, as a man, took a hard look at his own past to question why women did not come to him to talk about such things.
“I came out of a brutal, oppressive business that was historically unfriendly to women,” he said on The Daily Show in January. “I knew a lot of women, it turned out, who had stories about their experiences — about people I knew — who did not feel I was the sort of person they could confide in.”
After celebrity chef John Besh was accused of sexual harassment by 25 women, Bourdain tweeted that it was “the beginning of an end of institutionalized Meathead Culture in the restaurant business.”
Bourdain, too, had to reconcile with his own contribution to what he called the meathead culture. In an interview with Slate last October, Bourdain acknowledged how kitchens became a place for harassment, particularly when they are most often run by men who feel empowered to bully those below them. And although Bourdain said he tried to remove himself from a reputation of a “macho” persona, he knew it became a part of him after a certain point.
“I am a guy on TV who sexualizes food. Who uses bad language. Who thinks our discomfort, our squeamishness, fear and discomfort around matters sexual is funny. I have done stupid offensive shit,” he told Slate. “And because I was a guy in a guy’s world who had celebrated a system—I was very proud of the fact that I had endured that.”
Bourdain began speaking out after his girlfriend, the actor Asia Argento, accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault last October, the chef often spoke out about pervasive harassment and assault and vocally supported Argento. (Weinstein has denied all allegations of non-consensual sex.)
Many women and #MeToo advocates commended Bourdain for his continuous support. The actor Rose McGowan, who has accused Weinstein of rape, posted a video Friday, crying and encouraging people to reach out to suicide hotlines.
If you or someone you know may be contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.