Anthony Bourdain’s suicide last year left a gaping hole in the hearts of many Dallas chefs, line cooks, servers and industry professionals. In an industry where mental illness, substance abuse and high-stress lifestyles are prevalent, Bourdain set an example by his generosity and, frankly, by his survival.
After his death, many local chefs expressed their grief. Now, three are channeling their love for Bourdain into an event meant to bring the service industry together in support of each other. Tuesday night at Franklin’s Tattoo and Supply in East Dallas, chefs Peter Barlow, Joshua Farrell and Justin Holt will throw a Bourdain Bash to honor the man’s memory.
The Bourdain Bash promises to strike the right tone in remembrance. In the tattoo shop’s backyard, the trio of chefs — Holt from the forthcoming Bishop Arts ramen restaurant Salaryman, Barlow from pop-up series Niteshade and Farrell from the late-night kitchen at the Blue Light — will be serving up Puerto Rican roasted pork, yakitori and other foods. Sponsor Ilegal Mezcal will chip in a few bottles, custom hat and jacket designer Travis Austin will have representatives on hand to take apparel orders and the Franklin’s Tattoo staff will be offering food-themed flash work.
But this isn’t an attempt to cash in on Bourdain’s name. “It’s a backyard party for industry,” Farrell explains. “It’s gonna be a bunch of chefs and foodies and industry cats. We’ll probably get a keg or two, let everybody hang out and network and be merry and just kinda party.”
Farrell began planning the event after noticing that many of his friends wanted to honor Bourdain in some way, but that none of them knew how.
“We lost a huge pillar in our industry to suicide, which is something that we all feel the pain of,” he says. “We feel the loneliness.
“This time last year for me was a real fucked time,” he continues. “My mom just got sick with her cancer, I was kinda down and out. One of the people inspiring me to not shoot myself in the fucking face was this guy (Bourdain). So when I woke up and found out what happened, it fucked me up. A lot of us have these issues with mental illness and suicide and whatnot. When he was vocal on it, he was keeping us alive for lack of another word. He’s a friend, a mentor, an idol to all of us. It’ll be nice to get all of us together, to not feel the pain but celebrate his life together.”
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Although the event is dedicated to the service industry, the public is welcome, too. There’s a $20 door charge, but it’s not because Farrell, Holt or Barlow want to turn a profit. Quite the opposite, Farrell says: “The only reason we’re charging at the door is to pay for the beer and the security and all the shit we need to pull this thing off.”
The real goal is to help Dallas kitchen professionals — who often become isolated working long hours in their own kitchens — make connections, build friendships and show support for each other. The food industry can be a loneliness generator as cooks pull double shifts, battle against addiction, compete for media attention and, frequently, struggle to pay the bills. In Bourdain’s memory, maybe the best thing we can do is to help make the kitchen a less lonely, more open, more supportive place.
“I don’t feel like we support each other enough at all,” Farrell says. “I’ve always dreamt about doing little events like this, even if it was a bar crawl just to get us to talk to each other. We don’t talk to each other. I would love to create some kind of event that can break down those barriers. Let’s spread the awareness by giving each other hugs and shit.”
The hugs start at 6 p.m. Tuesday.