September 23, 2018

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Bourdain's star shone bright during brief visit to Winnipeg

SUPPLIED</p><p>Brandon Boone (left) fondly recalls interviewing Anthony Bourdain during a 2006 book-tour stop in Winnipeg.</p></p>

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Brandon Boone (left) fondly recalls interviewing Anthony Bourdain during a 2006 book-tour stop in Winnipeg.

Anthony Bourdain, the chef, television host and culinary raconteur, travelled all over the world, including Winnipeg, before his death Friday at the age of 61.

Though none of Bourdain’s hit shows, which put food and culture under the microscope for a global audience, ever set up cameras in Winnipeg, the chef-turned-bestselling author made a pit stop here in 2006 to promote his latest book. He left an indelible mark on some of the city’s chefs, industry professionals and foodies.

At that point, Kelly Cattani, 36, now a seasoned chef in her own right, was in her mid-20s and standing in line at McNally Robinson to meet Bourdain, one of her biggest inspirations at the time. Cattani had read Bourdain’s first book, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, when she was just 19 and getting set to begin her career in Winnipeg. The book, which gave non-foodies an inside look at the machinations of a New York City kitchen, made Bourdain a star, and it made Cattani see food in a new light.

“The industry seemed to be depicted as a haven for miscreants and socially awkward people could find like-minded people,” Cattani said. “That was the industry I walked into.”

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Anthony Bourdain, the chef, television host and culinary raconteur, travelled all over the world, including Winnipeg, before his death Friday at the age of 61.

Though none of Bourdain’s hit shows, which put food and culture under the microscope for a global audience, ever set up cameras in Winnipeg, the chef-turned-bestselling author made a pit stop here in 2006 to promote his latest book. He left an indelible mark on some of the city’s chefs, industry professionals and foodies.

At that point, Kelly Cattani, 36, now a seasoned chef in her own right, was in her mid-20s and standing in line at McNally Robinson to meet Bourdain, one of her biggest inspirations at the time. Cattani had read Bourdain’s first book, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, when she was just 19 and getting set to begin her career in Winnipeg. The book, which gave non-foodies an inside look at the machinations of a New York City kitchen, made Bourdain a star, and it made Cattani see food in a new light.

"The industry seemed to be depicted as a haven for miscreants and socially awkward people could find like-minded people," Cattani said. "That was the industry I walked into."

To Cattani, the book was less a gastronomic tome than an historical document or a time capsule. For many chefs, cooks and connoisseurs who came of age during Bourdain’s rise, he represented a changing culinary arts world, Cattani said; chefs no longer needed tall hats and impeccable uniforms, and they didn’t have to hide their tattoos, either.

"He showed you could be open-minded and unafraid," said Kevin Castro, 25, a Winnipeg kitchen veteran who now cooks for Actionmarguerite, an assisted-living facility. "And he knew the grind of being a cook."

So, when Bourdain rolled into town to promote Nasty Bits, his third non-fiction book, Cattani bought a copy and stood in a long, winding line to get the author’s autograph. They exchanged quick greetings, and Cattani left with a souvenir.

"I haven’t reread it since," she said. "But I should probably pick it up again."

The next day, outside Osborne Village’s Bistro 71/4, Brandon Boone, then working as a food columnist for a local radio station, was feeling nervous. Inside sat Bourdain, waiting for his interviewer to arrive.

"Hey, I’m Anthony. Let’s chat," Boone, who now works in communications for the University of Manitoba, recalls him saying.

Boone’s anxiety dissipated, and soon, the two were in the kitchen toiling over steak frites, making sure the meat was cooked perfectly.

Boone later worked as an editor for a food magazine, Flavours, which folded a few years ago. But he says meeting Bourdain pushed him toward following his passion. Bourdain gave him his email address and Boone occasionally sent questions about food: "I can’t remember what I asked him. I think it was about roasting beets."

Before Bourdain left for his next stop, Boone snapped a picture with him. It now hangs above his desk, and he thinks about it often.

bwaldman@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @benjwaldman

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History

Updated on Saturday, June 9, 2018 at 7:50 AM CDT: Photo added.

9:29 AM: Photo changed.

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