Heartfelt responses from fans and loved ones continue to emerge after it was reported that Anthony Bourdain died of an apparent suicide. As a chef, travel writer, and host of Parts Unknown, Bourdain connected to people around the world, and, as evident in NASA astronaut Scott Kelly’s tribute, his work touched those in space, too.
Responding to the news on Twitter, Kelly shared his memories of Anthony Bourdain and the impact he had on the astronaut on Friday. Kelly, who is a veteran of four space flights and former commander of the International Space Station, revealed that Bourdain’s TV show Parts Unknown made him feel more connected to the planet he was orbiting.
“I watched his show when I was in space. It made me feel more connected to the planet, its people and cultures and made my time there more palatable,” Kelly said of Bourdain. “He inspired me to see the world up close.”
Kelly’s sentiment toward the TV show was one shared by many on Twitter. Responding to the news, Bourdain’s fans and loved ones pointed to the ways in which Bourdain celebrated humanity in all of its rich cultural diversity throughout his career, bringing people together with a curiosity for the unknown and a shared love of food.
Kelly’s love of Parts Unknown may well have been reciprocal, as Bourdain had a proclivity for science and space travel. When working on Bravo TV’s Top Chef in 2010, he invited astronauts Buzz Aldrin, Sandy Magnus, and Leland Melvin to the show that explored cuisine in space. Food in space is traditionally thought of as bland, utilitarian, and unappetizing, and the chef challenge was to create a dish that could be freeze-dried and sent into space, giving astronauts a taste of home.
“Crew members continually say that when they’re in such an unfamiliar environment so far away, food is one of the main things that remind them of home,” NASA said of the episode when it aired.
Bourdain continued to collaborate with the science community when he hosted Parts Unknown. In 2017, when he traveled to Antarctica to film the TV show, he spent the majority of his time with the scientists stationed there, conducting research on climate change. The episode led the American Council for Science and Health to commend Bourdain for his honest depiction of the lives of those scientists.
Neil deGrasse Tyson also shared his condolences and reflected on Bourdain’s love of science on Friday, noting the parallels between the science community and Bourdain’s own explorations.
“We talked about the science of food and the relationship between culture and what foods you would eat or have the likelihood of eating depending where you are — what latitude you are on earth, what foods you prefer, how much spice is in it,” he said.
Such responses from the science community point to the extent of Bourdain’s influence. He not only brought a taste of home to space but reminded those still on Earth that there is more to be discovered.
If you or someone you know needs help, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.