You didn’t need to be really into cooking to know who Anthony Bourdain was. Heck, you didn’t even need to like cooking to love the chef-turned-TV-adventurer. He was tattooed, rough and tumble, and totally beloved by those around him; a fact that becomes crystal clear during the almost two-hour runtime of Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain, the new documentary film about Bourdain’s life, which premiered at the Tribeca Festival earlier this month.
Directed by Morgan Neville (who also directed 20 Feet From Stardom and Won’t You Be My Neighbour), the doc picks up just after the success of the New York-based chef’s first memoir, Kitchen Confidential, when he’s in his 40s, over a decade into his first marriage and surprisingly, kind of camera shy. Using archival footage alongside interviews with those who knew him best (including his second ex-wife, longtime producing partners, and culinary world luminaries like David Chang), the filmmaker seeks to explore just what made Bourdain who he was: A man who shot to stardom later in life in an unconventional way, was rough around the edges, and perhaps because of that, touched the lives of so many.
Even from the initial trailer, it’s clear that Bourdain was a larger-than-life character with a capital C. In Kitchen Confidential, he detailed the BTS of his early career in the kitchen, scared many of us out of ever eating fish again, and became known as the bad boy of the culinary world. (His honest chronicling of his former rock 'n' roll lifestyle didn’t hurt, either). Eventually, he harnessed that fame into several TV series, the most popular of which was CNN’s Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, which followed the chef across the globe as he tried out new cuisine — often with local people — and opened viewer’s eyes to a world and cultures beyond their own.
Of course, his story has a tragic end. Fans of the celeb chef will know that Bourdain tragically died by suicide in June 2018. But the doc — which covers up until the final years of his life — shows exactly why his legacy lives on.
Canadians looking to catch the chef on their screens once again can do so. Roadrunner is coming to theatres (where theatres are open) starting July 16.