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Anthony Bourdain Day on P.E.I. to celebrate chef, raise awareness

P.E.I. Culinary Federation welcomes Islanders to celebrate the life of the late, great celebrity chef, travel writer with gathering on Victoria Row on June 25


For many people, Anthony Bourdain was THE guide to good food and good times.

He starred in television programs that explored international culture, cuisine and the human condition, including the award-winning CNN series, “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown”.

In the show, the American celebrity chef travelled the world, uncovering lesser-known places, talking to locals and exploring their cultures and cuisine.

Last year Bourdain was in Strasbourg, France, working on an upcoming episode for the show when he didn’t come down one night for a rustic French dinner. His friend, Eric Ripert, a French chef, found him the next morning (June 8) dead in his hotel bathroom.  He had committed suicide. He was 61.

Bourdain’s death sent shockwaves around the world.

On P.E.I., chef Ilona Daniel was sitting in her office at the Culinary Institute of Canada, when she heard the news. 

“I was devastated. It was just so sad. It was such a loss. He was such a unique storyteller, and now many of his stories are going to be left untold.”

On a personal level, Bourdain had been her mentor.

“I have been so inspired by him. I read his first book, ‘Kitchen Confidential’, when I was at culinary school and I really identified with him.”

Bourdain loved travel and literature but somehow found himself in the completely different world of food. 

“Seeing him blend those two loves together, he really inspired me to do many of the thing that I do today,” says the regional food writer for Saltwire Network and a member of the P.E.I. Culinary Federation.

So, last month when international chefs José Andrés and Ripert, longtime friends of the late chef, announced June 25 as Bourdain Day and encouraged a worldwide celebration, Daniel felt there should be a similar event on P.E.I. So, she presented the idea to the P.E.I. Chef Association and discovered that others in the food industry felt the same way.

“Everyone was so united and impacted by Anthony. So, I agreed to take the bull by the horns and make it happen,” says Daniel, adding a Bourdain Day gathering, organized by the P.E.I. Culinary Federation, is Tuesday, June 25, on Victoria Row in Charlottetown at 7 p.m.

The event, which will include a speech on mental health by Terry Nabburs of The Wheelhouse and Terry’s Berries, will celebrate the life of Bourdain. The event will also include a group photo which will be shared with the global food community.

“We’re not looking to take a lot of people’s time. We want to honour Bourdain on his birthday, so we’re inviting foodies and home cooks – everyone who knew of him to attend,” says Chef Irwin MacKinnon, president of the P.E.I. Culinary Association, who will also be in attendance.

The event is important for Nabburs because it’s an opportunity to raise awareness about stress in the food industry. After facing the death of a friend, through suicide, he wants to make people aware of the importance of taking care of their mental and physical health.

“It’s important because for a long time people in our industry haven’t paid attention to it. Sometimes people come into the cooking profession with existing issues. And the industry exacerbates that. 

“It’s high-stress, high-pace, evenings and weekends job, and there’s a certain type of person that thrives on that. But there’s also the negative side of things. And it’s very, very real.”

If you are going

  • What: Anthony Bourdain Day on P.E.I.
  • When and where: Victoria Row, near bandstand, June 25, 7 p.m.
  • Organizers: P.E.I. Culinary Federation.
  • Event: Open to anyone who was inspired by Anthony Bourdain, including the hospitality and food community  
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