Barb Aceti, seen on the left in this photo with legendary chef, Anthony Bourdain, is reflecting on the time she met the award-winning chef, author, brilliant storyteller, humanitarian, and jet-setter.
It was a meeting Barb will never forget. She was a fan and follower of Bourdain’s career – going back more than a decade, “I was 19, naïve, unsure and disheartened. I packed my bags and moved to St. Thomas USVI on a whim and a prayer,” Barb told me, “I spent the next two years of my life exploring and embracing the island life and culture. That is where I first read Anthony Bourdain’s book, Kitchen Confidential. One of Bourdain’s many writings, this book was raw, engaging and inspiring. Life is hard and the struggle is real, but there was a light at the end of that book. It jump started my love of life, food, travel and following Anthony Bourdain through his career.”
She continued to follow his journey, continued to travel and try to experience life to the fullest, “Anthony was more than a celebrity, he was an advocate. He brought to light the marginalized and disenfranchised from all over the world. He helped the tourist, become the traveler.”
Then, in 2016, she was fortunate to see Bourdain in an intmate setting in Denver, Colorado, “I was two rows from the stage. I remember thinking to myself, he looks a lot older than what I imagined. He was thinner, and the lines on his face were deep. He was tan, taunt, had an infectious smile, and of course a gorgeous head of salt and pepper hair. He talked of his love of travel, food, family and the human race. He was a humanitarian, his passion and advocacy for every person of the human race was evident. After he spoke of his experiences and how we could all be better, he took the time to answer questions from the audience. You could tell his answers were thoughtful and genuine, as he spoke with a slight pause and a smirk and laugh that dragged you into his life experiences. He was kind, sincere and humble. I had the opportunity to meet him afterward and although our interaction was brief, he made sure to look me in the eyes and thank me. What had always struck me, was Anthony Bourdain’s openness and honesty about his struggles in life. He was raw, vulgar at times, but he made others including myself feel like you were not alone.”
Now, as word comes of his death by apparent suicide, Barb can’t help but wonder, “Looking back, I wonder was this man I was watching and engaging with always afflicted with the depressive thoughts that caused him to take his life? Suicide is becoming an epidemic, rates are rising across America. Mental health awareness and treatment is crucial. You don’t have to be an expert. Ask, listen, encourage, follow-up. Let us be kind, let us be better to ourselves, and everyone around us.”
Wonderful advice. Thank you for sharing your story, Barb.
A reminder – there is help out there.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1.800.273.8255
Crisis Text Line: Text START to 741.741
Veterans Crisis Line: 1.800.273.8255, press “1” text 838255