Anthony Bourdain supported #MeToo movement, came to criticize ‘bro culture’

Bourdain came to question whether in his hit book he validated 'meatheads.'

June 8, 2018, 10:47 AM

The sudden death of renowned chef Anthony Bourdain is spurring reflection on the accomplishments that catapulted him to stardom.

But aside from his successful books and TV shows, Bourdain recently gained attention as an outspoken advocate of the #MeToo movement, with his vocal support of dozens of women -- including his own girlfriend, actress Asia Argento -- who accused disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault or misconduct.

Bourdain, 61, died in an apparent suicide.

He spoke to Slate magazine in the fall about the difficulty for women like Argento to speak out about assault or misconduct and the problem of sexual harassment in the restaurant industry.

"I mean, look, obviously I’ve been seeing up close — due to a personal relationship — the difficulty of speaking out about these things, and the kind of vilification and humiliation and risk and pain and terror that come with speaking out about this kind of thing," Bourdain told the magazine.

"That certainly brought it home in a personal way that, to my discredit, it might not have before."

Rethinking his best-seller, "Kitchen Confidential"

Bourdain also said that the accusations against Weinstein prompted him to reflect on whether he had unintentionally in his breakthrough memoir, "Kitchen Confidential," promoted a male-centered culture in the restaurant business.

"I’ve had to ask myself, and I have been for some time, 'To what extent in that book did I provide validation to meatheads?'” Bourdain said to Slate, admitting that he played the role of "the bad boy."

"You know, to the extent that I was that guy, however fast and however hard I tried to get away [from] it, the fact is that’s what my persona was," Bourdain said. "I am a guy on TV who sexualizes food. Who uses bad language. Who thinks our discomfort, our squeamishness, fear and discomfort around matters sexual is funny. I have done stupid offensive s***."

Responding to sexual misconduct allegations in the food world

In a December essay posted on Medium, Bourdain addressed the accusations of sexual harassment or misconduct against food industry colleague Mario Batali and restaurateur Ken Friedman.

"In these current circumstances, one must pick a side," Bourdain wrote. "I stand unhesitatingly and unwaveringly with the women."

He went on: "I am grateful to them for their courage, and inspired by them. That doesn’t make me any more enlightened than any other man who has begun listening and paying attention. It does makes me, I hope, slightly less stupid."

Bourdain concluded the piece by again addressing "Kitchen Confidential," writing that he felt remorse over the book in which "prolonged a culture that allowed the kind of grotesque behaviors."

Applauding females and the #MeToo movement

Months before his death, Bourdain in an appearance on "The Daily Show" with Trevor Noah credited Argento and other women whose #MeToo accounts had him speaking "out of a sense of real rage."

“I’d like to say [that] I was only enlightened in some way or I’m an activist or virtuous, but in fact, I have to be honest with myself," Bourdain explained. "I met one extraordinary woman with an extraordinary and painful story, who introduced me to a lot of other women with extraordinary stories and suddenly it was personal.”

Bourdain was also openly supportive of #MeToo on social media.

In January, he tweeted to Rose McGowan and applauded her for revealing her allegations against Weinstein.

"In a world of timidity, compromise and b*******, @rosemcgowan howls fearlessly at the moon #Brave," Bourdain wrote.

In wake of Bourdain's death, McGowan tweeted, "Through space and time, Anthony. Your love will find you again."

Anyone in crisis, or who knows someone in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741.

Related Topics

ABC News Live

ABC News Live

24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events