In one his final interviews, Anthony Bourdain opened up about the shocking “physical and emotional abuse” he endured as a young chef.
Speaking candidly in a Build Series interview taped seven months ago, the celebrity chef – who was found dead in his Paris hotel room on Friday – said he was “molested in the kitchen, openly, every day”.
“It was hard, physically hard, emotionally hard,” he said of his first job out of culinary school.
“The food wasn’t particularly good, but just keeping up with this crushing workload while being mocked, frankly abused, physically and mentally, by my superiors and colleagues… it was hard, very hard.”
Bourdain, who rose to fame after publishing his confessional memoir Kitchen Confidential, went on to reveal, “I was molested in the kitchen, openly, every day”.
“There was brutal hazing there,” he added to the Wall Street Journal in a separate interview from March, “To be honest, it was sexual abuse.”
“One chef walked by me multiple times a day for the first couple of weeks and would wind his hand up and smack my ass. Over time, that became not just smacking my ass, but driving his fingers up my ass to the great amusement of the entire kitchen.”
Bourdain said the abuse only ended when he “stabbed the offender in the hand with a meat fork” and conceded he was troubled by the fact that most people who experience abuse in the workplace aren’t in a position to respond in a similar way.
In the wake of the #MeToo movement – of which he was “unabashedly supportive” – Bourdain went on to reflect on how he wasn’t happy with the way he had previously represented his experience.
“My pride in enduring that [abuse] led to me glamourising it in a way that I’m uncomfortable with now,” he told Build.
“I was proud for getting through it, I’m a little more ambivalent on how I might have portrayed that as whether it was a triumph or not, looking back, I’m not so sure.”
After multiple sexual misconduct claims were made against celebrity chef John Besh, Bourdain spoke out about the “institutionalised Meathead Culture in the restaurant business” and how he was shocked to find that many women he knew had come forward with abuse stories but didn’t feel that he was someone they could have confided in at the time.
Fans around the world are mourning the chef and TV star after he died by suicide while in France filming an episode for his series, Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.
Bourdain leaves behind an 11-year-old daughter. He had previously been open about his battles with drugs and addiction in the past, and confessed, “I have happy days and then dark days, you know, I think my work expresses that.”