NOLA chefs mourn Bourdain

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Anthony Bourdain left his mark all over the world, but especially in New Orleans.

From top chefs to up-and-comers, the food and travel journalist's death came as a shock.

New Orleans is filled with the kinds of places made for Anthony Bourdain. Bourdain came to Jacques-Imo's on Oak Street early in his TV career, and left an impression on its owner.

"We ate in the back of this truck with Abita beer in our hands, toasting the crowd," said Jacques-Imo's owner Jacques Leonardi.

Bourdain also left his mark on a number of other institutions like Cochon and Emeril's. Today, Emeril Lagasse tweeted, "I'm shocked and extremely saddenned by the tragic loss of such an inspiring man...Tony was a great soul, a mentor, a friend, father, and an incredible chef."

"Just a great person, an entertainer, a great chef," said Leonardi.

Bourdain inspired young chefs. Bayona's Eason Barksdale met Bourdain seven years ago.

"It made me extremely nervous. He was sweet, calling us chefs, but we were just cooks at the time," said Barksdale.

New Orleans was Bourdain's kind of place. He visited here often and was deeply moved by the city's trials and tribulations after Katrina.

"Talking to him for an hour and a half, and the sadness and hurt that people had in their lives," said Leonardi.

Bourdain was a traveler and a storyteller who visited most of the world's corners, including Oxford, MS, where he made an impression on Bayona's Tori Rawson.

"It's very sad. Just goes to show what people are struggling with," said Rawson.

But his suicide, part of a disturbing national trend, is a mystery to those who knew him.

"It's something we need to address, rather than prescriptions let's look at the root cause...treatment," said Leonardi.

Bourdain appeared to have it all - a creative dream job filled with food and travel to exotic locations. But his death raises a lot of questions, especially among those who laughed, learned and crafted careers inspired by his incredible body of work.

Bourdain was a writer for the HBO show Treme, which was set in New Orleans, and featured the city's food culture. He considered New Orleans one of America's most vibrant cities when it came to culture and cuisine.

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