Thursday, November 15, 2018

Winter Solstice @ Fiorellino Observations

Ladies & Gentlemen,

'Think where man's glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends.' ~ William Butler Yeats

It's been a while... The evolutionary cycle, always moving forward, has cast its replenishment. Life has a way of turning things around when we least expect it... and sometimes that's a good thing. Proof is the latest coming together of similar souls in pursuit of a moment among a cortege of moments. Everything about this latest soirée felt new ... location, food, the feel of the neighborhood. I have been doing this for a long time, and this evening brought a nuance of emboldened sensation. Once again, the evening was a fabulous chef-d'oeuvre.

Custom dictates that I welcome newcomers, so without further ado let us welcome 'The Weatherman', who immediately exuded a feeling of familiarity... like he'd been part of our shindigs for some time. It astounded me when he RSVPed in the affirmative. Let us hope he continues to make the trek and grace us with his presence... an added stimuli, cerebrally speaking.
Once I got familiar with my surroundings I came across Angelo Leone, one of the proprietors and an all-around bon vivant. Angelo and I go back to high school and beyond. Back in the 1980s' we were both players in the same game. Sometimes I won, and sometimes he'd come out on top. But the important thing was that we played like it was ‘1984. I want to take this moment to thank him, along with Massimo Lecas and Jonathan Richardson for a superb soirée.

Fiorellino is bright, cheery and rather removed from the action, located right behind St. Patrick's Basilica on de la Gauchetière St. By day, this strip of the Quartier
International may be hopping, but at night, it's practically deserted — save for Fiorellino, which already, judging by the crowds, is raking 'em in.
When entering the first thing you notice is the café as well as a counter displaying Italian goodies ranging from biscotti to tiramisu. Following the beautiful blue-and-white tiled floor, you come to the hostess station and announce your arrival. Take a right past the high tables and you enter the main dining room, where there's a bar, a communal table facing a meat slicer, and a wall of imported groceries (pastas, oils etc.), all for sale. Venture a little farther and you're facing a Neapolitan pizza oven, and, just past that, the kitchen. The dining room, framed in white tiles, concrete walls and plywood paneling, counts about 80 seats, and on the this night most every one was taken. We had a wall of banquette of tables for our dinner party.

Gorgeous setting aside, what counts most is the food, especially as the young-and-fun Italian genre is all the rage in our city. Five years ago, you could count the number of good pizza places in Montreal on one hand. Now, there are many, and you can add Fiorellino to that list. I read that the owners don't want the restaurant categorized as a pizza place, but when the pizza's this good, why not? But don't come here only for pizza,
you’ll be missing out.
Our night began as always with the wine selections... The red was 'Nero D'Avola Baglio d'oro' (from their private collection) along with the white 'Ancilla' (also private from their private collection). As well as a sampling of pizza ... 'Margherita' – think pouffy, crisp, blistered and slightly charred crust, spread with a spunky tomato sauce and topped with the likes of soppressata, roasted red peppers, mushrooms and fior di latte, or goat's cheese. I inhaled my slices revelling in the superb mix of textures and flavours, then adding a few dribbles of spicy oil to give it extra kick.

Then commencement of the plethora of culinary delights began to descend upon our table. 'Insalata di Funghi Crudi' morsels of shaved King Oyster mushrooms sprinkled with Parmigiano and Gremolata that was sinfully deliciousness condensed in a spoonful. 'Zucca Arrostita' roasted squashes a la Starciatella topped with Sunflower seeds, Hazelnuts and slices Prosciutto. Decadent.
'Burrata' - Brussel sprouts with bread and Prosciutto crumble. Assorted charcuteries, including Focaccia, olives, Parmesan slices and Giardineira, that reminded me of Mama Borsellino.

Our second course was a Pasta dish - Aglio e Olio (oil&garlic) with Pork ragu. My grandmother would have been proud. The chef knows his pastas. And for the fnale ... Branzino fish served with market vegetables and a Beef Cheek accompanied by a creamy polenta. The whole table gasped!

I revelled in dining at Fiorellino immensely. There is so much deliciousness going on inside these walls. And even if the setting is quite casual, I can imagine this restaurant is as well suited to a family dinner as a date night destination. That's the beauty of the new casual restaurants: great food at reasonable prices and exceptional wines.

As is the case with each gathering the dynamics and especially the landscape changes and it was never more apparent than this recent assembled cast. I'm a big proponent of evolution, and this group as definitely evolved. It was different and unique, as they always are. It's similar to an ever-changing, living organism that grows as it absorbs particles it picks up along its journey.

'Life's euphoria is made up of little moments; you steal away from the mundane.' ~ © Frank Borsellino™

This was such a moment in the evolution of life's journey.

© Your Cruise Director™
Food is my compass
writer/blogger/bon vivant
(514) 909-7524

* Fiorellino Bar Ristorante
www.fiorellino.ca

© From Where I Sit™
www.fromwhereisit.co

* Observed November 9, 2018


Thursday, September 6, 2018

Burt Reynolds R.I.P.

'I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happens to them all.' ~ Ecclesiastes 9:11

Burt Reynolds, who famously turned down the roles of James Bond and Han Solo, regardless forged a film career that marked him out as a singular talent, passed away Thursday, September 6 at Jupiter Medical in Florida.

A Michigan native transplanted to Florida, he was an American football player in his youth, but switched to acting after a knee injury was aggravated by a car accident. Discouraged, Reynolds started part-time lessons at Palm Beach Junior College, where his acting talent was spotted by Watson B Duncan III, an English teacher who liked the way he read Shakespeare. Reynolds would later say that Duncan was the most important influence on his life. He soon found regular work on stage and in TV, but delayed heading to Hollywood, citing a lack of confidence after being turned down during his first audition for the '1957 war romance 'Sayonara' for looking too much like Marlon Brando. Brando got the role. Reynolds eventually made his debut in 'Angel Baby' (1961), a pulp thriller about religious zealotry in the American south.

His cachet and profile received a surge when he posed naked on a bear skin rug for 'Cosmopolitan Magazine' (1972), but his film breakthrough arose later that year with 'Deliverance' - another story of backwoods behaviour - in which Reynolds starred opposite Jon Voight. He played Lewis Medlock, an Atlanta businessman who, with three friends, is stalked and attacked by violent locals while on a river boating trip through rural Georgia. The film, famous for a scene in which one of the party is ordered to 'squeal like a pig' before being raped by their captors, made Reynolds a star, even if many of his later roles would gently mock Lewis Medlock's brimful machismo.
'The Longest Yard' (1974), Robert Altman's sports drama about prisoners who play American football against their guards, allowed Reynolds to combine hobbies. He played Paul 'Wrecking' Crewe, the charismatic team leader of inmate team the 'Mean Machine', who finds himself compromised after being threatened with more jail time if he doesn't throw the game.
Another enduring hit came in 1977 when Reynolds starred in 'Smokey and the Bandit', a madcap action comedy in which the actor played a rebellious trucker, Bo Darville (aka 'Bandit), hired to drive bootleg booze across state lines. Notable for its lengthy last act chase scene, the film was the second highest grossing of the year and spawned two, less than stellar, sequels. Another petrol headed hit came with 'The Cannonball Run' (1981), about a cross country car race.

Later the red leather jacket Reynolds wore in 'Smokey and the Bandit' was part of a collection of memorabilia sold off by the actor in 2014 to pay off mortgage debts of a rumoured $1.4 million. Also among the auctioned items was the best supporting actor Golden Globe award Reynolds won for his role in Paul Thomas Anderson's 'Boogie Nights' (1997). Set in the 1970s porn industry, Anderson's film rejuvenated Reynolds career by casting him as the pragmatic, occasionally ruthless adult film director Jack Horner. A critical hit, 'Boogie Nights' nevertheless did not sit well with its star, who had trouble with the subject matter and hated working with Anderson, who he thought cocky. He was currently working on Quentin Tarantino's 'Once Upon A Time in Hollywood'.

± Namaste ±
© From Where I Sit™
writer/blogger/bon vivant

* '100 Rifles' (1969) w/Raquel Welch & Jim Brown

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Fabian Perez Artist

'It's been thirty years that my wheels travelled on a sandy road. In my tracks, I've left things behind, and lost many others. As the wheels turn I can see a road ahead that will take me on many new experiences.' ~ Fabian Perez 'Reflections of a Dream'

* Fabian Perez was born November 2, 1967 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. As a teenager he was fascinated with martial arts and fine arts. Therefore, he dedicated himself to study both disciplines. Karate helped influence his character giving him great discipline as well as opening him up to other forms of art. Much of what he learned through his Eastern studies influenced his paintings. He left Argentina when he was 22 to live in Italy, where he resided for seven years. It is there that his career in painting and writing took an ascendant journey. It is also in Italy where he was inspired to write his book 'Reflections of a Dream', which was published later in the United States. He then went to Japan where he lived for one year. While there he painted 'The Japanese Flag' and 'A Meditating Man' which are on display in a government house. He left Japan to go to Los Angeles where he devotes his life to inspire others with his paintings and writings. His style is unique... he wishes not to be categorized... he feels this limits the artist as well as the work. The bold and symbolic imagery feels intensely passionate. Fabian paints with his emotions and each painting reflects his drive and energy.

© Frank Borsellino™
© From Where I Sit™
writer/blogger/bon vivant

* Fabian Perez Artist - self-portrait '1967

'To Catch a Thief' (1955)

'I have a feeling that inside you somewhere, there's somebody nobody knows about.' ~ Alfred Hitchcock

In his fourth colour feature and his first widescreen 'To Catch a Thief' (1955) is rarely considered one of Hitchcock's top masterpieces. Yet, its picturesque locale, phenomenal star pairing of Cary Grant and Grace Kelly, as well as its exquisite production design, and glamourous costume design – the latter orchestrated to perfection by the legendary Edith Head – make 'To Catch a Thief' a rare delight. A feast for the eyes, without Hitchcock's patented perversion or twisted psychosexual leanings (although truly, that's why we love him, don't we?), 'To Catch a Thief' is a stylish mid-century romp through the bistros, beaches, and rooftops of the French Riviera. A rare murder-free thriller (which isn't to say there is not a dead body or two), it proves some of Hitchcock's strengths in comic timing, as well as the superior craftsmanship of his collaborators (Edith Head, cinematographer Robert Burks, and Art Directors J. McMillan Johnson and Hal Pereira). Nominated for Oscars in Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, and Best Costume Design (Edith Head would win for her costumes), it is one of Hitchcock's best-looking films.
Cary Grant plays John Robie – a supposedly reformed jewel thief known as 'The Cat'. Living in the French Riviera, Robie, who hasn't committed a crime in fifteen years, is questioned by police after a series of jewel heists – remarkably similar to The Cat's M.O. – are committed at a hotel. An insurance adjuster, worried at the vast payouts he'll have to dole out if the thief isn't caught, enlists Robie to help catch the copy-cat burglar. Clients of the adjuster are the heavily bejewelled mother/daughter duo, the Stevens, guests at an illustrious Cannes hotel. Smitten with Robie, the daughter Frances (Grace Kelly) aggressively pursues him, as does the teenage daughter of his former accomplice Danielle (Brigitte Auber), all the while the cat burglar sets Robie up for a fall.

At age fifty-one, Grant had been retired from acting for two years when Hitchcock persuaded the thespian to once again collaborate with him. He had previously starred in Hitchcock's 'Suspicion' (1941), playing a cad of a husband suspected of plotting his wife's death, and in 'Notorious' (1945), playing a cad of a lover who enables his paramour to be murdered by her husband (the 1940s were quite a time for marriages and affairs), and he would of course go on to star in Hitchcock's masterpiece 'North by Northwest' (1959) – apparently retirement didn't take. Tanned, as would be appropriate for a Riviera-dweller, fit, and still as handsome as the day he debuted in 'This is the Night' (1932) nearly twenty-five years prior, Grant was at the top of his game and one of the most recognized male stars Hollywood had ever known. No wonder Hitchcock wanted him for his roguish burglar. Pairing him with the director's most coveted starlet, Grace Kelly, the director created a dynamic on-screen pairing, even if the age difference between the 50+ Grant and twenty-four-year-old Kelly did raise some eyebrows. Kelly was Hitchcock's ultimate blonde, having only appeared in seven films at the time of production – two of which were Hitchcock predecessors 'Dial M for Murder' & 'Rear Window' both in 1954. Her true blueblood origins perfectly suited the character of a wealthy American heiress. Rounding out the cast was twenty-six-year-old French ingénue Brigitte Auber, who Hitchcock personally selected after seeing her in a number of French productions. Auber plays Robie's former accomplice's daughter – a rambunctious spitfire out to ensnare the cat in her romantic exploits, despite Frances' designs on him.

Filmed on location amidst the Côte d'Azur's Mediterranean beauty, 'To Catch a Thief' made great use of Paramount's newly-minted VistaVision process. A rival to CinemaScope and exclusive to Paramount, VistaVision oriented the 35mm film vertically, rather than horizontally, allowing for a higher resolution image, much like the recently resurrected 70mm process. And while Hitchcock was skeptical of widescreen's true value (assuming it a gimmick like the 3D he used in Dial M for Murder), he and cinematographer Robert Burks nonetheless made incredible use of it by filming elaborate car chase scenes along the cliffs and vineyards of the Riviera from a helicopter – something that in 1955 had rarely been attempted and required careful customization of the vehicle and camera to make possible.

'To Catch a Thief' also rendered colour in a remarkable way. A film concerned with fine jewels, it is bathed in emerald green lighting for the film's twilight sequences, including its rooftop climax of dueling cat burglars. It's an element of style that would be used three years later for 'Vertigo' and its encroaching green fog of jealousy and obsession. Throughout 'To Catch a Thief', jewel tones predominate, whether the green lighting, the sapphire blues of the sea, or Frances' gold lamé ball gown – worn for the film's final act. Like the Technicolor epics to soon follow, each hue was meticulously thought out and utilized to subtly to tell the story – nowhere is this truer than with the costumes designed by Head and worn exquisitely by Kelly.

'To Catch a Thief' was Head's third collaboration with Hitchcock – having previously designed costumes for Grant and Ingrid Bergman in 'Notorious' and for Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly in 'Rear Window'. They would collaborate on another eight films for a total of eleven. Head was, and still is, the most awarded costume designer in the history of film, with an astounding thirty-five Oscar nominations and eight wins, which also makes her the most anointed woman in Oscar history. In 1955, she would win for 'Sabrina' starring Audrey Hepburn and a year later, she achieved Oscar gold again, winning for 'To Catch a Thief'.

Edith Head always claimed, when asked in interviews (and she was invariably always asked), that Kelly was her favorite star to work with, and one can see why when you look at the dresses in 'To Catch a Thief'. From Frances' swimsuits (which Hitchcock insisted be one-pieces and not those cheap new-fangled bikinis sweeping the beaches of France), to her chiffon evening gowns, to her ostentatious, but oh-so-fun 18th-century inspired ball gown, Kelly and Head's collaboration was movie magic. Indeed, some of Head's most recognized pieces are in 'To Catch a Thief'. While glamour was key Head was keen, as was Hitchcock, to tell the story of the film through costumes, rather than thinking of the costumes as mere decoration to an elaborate, high budget production. Tracing the transition in colors of Frances' costumes, from the whites and ice blues she wears in her more shrewish phase, to the brilliant gold of her lamé gown in the film's climax, there is a transformation in her character illustrated via colour – from cool and calculating, to warm and in love. Head, like Hitchcock, was never one to miss a beat, rather within all that glamour is a calculated storytelling technique.

From its costumes, to its breathtaking cinematography, to the beauty of its environs, 'To Catch a Thief' is a jewel in Hitchcock's crown. And while it may not be revolutionary in its filmmaking – like 'Psycho' (1960) or 'Vertigo' (1958) – it is, nevertheless, an important entry in Hitchcock's much-studied and admired filmography. With its use of colour, widescreen, and design, it served as a testing ground to the epics he was about to embark on. The perfect rainy-day film, it shouldn't be thought of as Hitchcock-lite as many critics and historians have suggested, but rather, a nice, light appetizer (French-inspired) to a much heavier, calorie-rich main course soon to arrive on the table.


© Frank Borsellino™
© From Where I Sit™
July 31, 2018

* '1955 Sunbeam Alpine Series III Roadster


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

'Cinema Paradiso' @ 30 Years

'I'm not young enough to know everything.' ~ J.M. Barrie

It is now 30 years since 'Cinema Paradiso', one of the most internationally acclaimed films in modern Italian cinema, was released.
Giuseppe Tornatore was just 32 when he made Cinema Paradiso, his second feature. The film flopped initially. But a new cut, released in 1990, propelled it to awards success in the shape of an Oscar for best foreign language film and a clutch of Baftas, cementing Tornatore's reputation as a director of note. For many, it remains his best picture, though personally I'd struggle to choose between 'Cinema Paradiso' and 'Malèna' (2000), his emotional film featuring Monica Bellucci as a vulnerable widow in wartime Sicily, whose descent into prostitution is observed by a group of adolescent boys.
It's no accident that Cinema Paradiso's nostalgic celebration of the power of great film-making, and of cinema as a communal experience, so captured audiences' imaginations. It came at a time when home video was leaving live cinema in the doldrums, with many film theatres falling derelict across Europe and North America: the present-day demolition of the Nuovo Cinema Paradiso to make way for a municipal car-park is one of the film's most powerful scenes.
The film's overall tone, too, is elegiac: it must have been easy, when 'Cinema Paradiso' first came out, to see it as a swansong for movie-going – to imagine that, in a few years' time, no local cinema would again have the same ability to bring together an isolated rural community, opening a window into other worlds.
Three decades later, we know that such worries were more or less unfounded: cinema-going is still alive and well, despite the triple-headed threat of DVD, Blu-ray and the internet, and many small independent cinemas are thriving. But for Cascio, and for the film's many fans, its message remains very relevant.

'Cinema Paradiso is about the power of dreams. In the film, we see the people go to the cinema to dream: by watching great movies, they forget all their problems. In becoming a great film director, Totò achieves his own personal dream, too. In today's world, with this crisis that we're all experiencing both in politics and in society, the film reminds us that we can, and must, keep on dreaming.' ~ Salvatore Cascio

© From Where I Sit™
www.fromwhereisit.co
writer/blogger/bon vivant
July 12, 2018

* Salvatore Cascio & Philippe Noiret - 'Cinema Paradiso' (1988)


Sunday, July 8, 2018

Monte Carlo @ Le Bijoux

'During sex, people are often way too focused on giving or taking to actually just celebrate this moment, be themselves completely, and rejoice in their own realities.' ~ Roberto Hogue

'Monte Carlo', was a private club downstairs at 'Le Bijoux', which was in itself an a premier jazz bar/restaurant. Membership cards to 'Monte Carlo' were these heavy, rectangular, gold-plated plaques, the size of a lighter, another one of Liz Swann's clients. Liz was a Marketing Guru, and she was responsible for the launch of this new hotspot. Her duties included marketing, advertising, filling the place up with celebrities and captains of industries. Anything and everything that would put this place on the proverbial social map, of course, due to our recent rapprochement, I received such a membership. The criteria, was only for millionaire friends of the owner, who was a famous old-time impresario of the arts and the club scene, since way back in the sixties. He had the hippest, sharpest and coolest clubs and restaurants in Old Montreal. One of these was called 'Le Bijoux'. In the film 'Once Upon a Time in America' (1984), there is a scene inside the restaurant, and in the Bruce Willis movie 'The Whole Nine Yards' (2000), there are actually several scenes, filmed inside a jazz club, that's the one. Well, 'Monte Carlo' was downstairs.
I recall, the first time I went, it was a couple of days after the opening. I never go to
openings, too much fanfare and attention on who is coming and going, in my world, it wasn't germane. Anyway, when I was lead to the bar, in the back (if you pay attention, I always end-up in the back of bars, that's where the real VIPs were, with the ladies). To my right, I notice a very prominent politician and philanthropist, who happens to be an old family friend and some other gentlemen I don't know, seated with some beautiful nubiles who don't look like their wives. I turned the cheek and head to the bathroom, hoping he did not see me. It would be awkward for him and me.

On my way I see seated in this tiny phone booth, the club had set up in a sort of alcove,
adjacent to the ladies' room, Liz. As I crossed her path, she hung up the phone and dropped her long, slender, incredibly sculpted leg out and blocked my passage, it was a tiny and dark area. As I followed that long, luscious limb to see where the Yellow Brick Road stopped and Heaven started, I saw her gorgeous lips, cheekbones and inviting eyes. I gave her a beguiling smile and dropping my eyes back down to her slightly spread thighs, now further opened, I had to blink twice because it seemed as though her bloom was glistening bare for my eyes to see.

I discreetly looked again and though dark, my vision adjusted, her female alcove was now slightly gaping and clearly moistened with anticipation of my reaction. This is one of those moments where you determine your path... I had to make a quick decision. Her message was clear, I had longed dreamed of taking a woman so passionately and covertly in public view... in such a rapid motion that it would undermine her plans and bring out the animal passion that she had planned to give up on her terms. Certain, that her hungry eyes were inviting me, I grabbed her hips and hoisted her onto the back wall of the booth. In no time I had freed my throbbing member and rammed it as far as I could into her slickened, silk flower. It rode in faster than a Porsche on the Autobahn and we were off to the mesosphere. She cried out in such sheer, unbridled lust and ecstasy that I had to cover her mouth so that patrons would not be directing their stare towards us. Her beautiful eyes dilated and drugged with pleasure were locked onto mine, as I continued hard and methodically thrusting as I evoked deep throat cries of gratification from her slightly parted full lips.

I felt her melt into me, her slender body, tight against me while I am pinning her against the wall I could feel a heart beating hard and fast as her breath was gasping to keep up, her musky smell intoxicated me as did the taste of her mouth and skin, her body trembling uncontrollably, her long legs wrapping tighter around me, she returned it back at me in a rhythmic fashion, her hungry and aggressive flesh for my manhood, possibly the best sex I ever had. I knew she couldn't last much longer, nor could I. Her lips quivered as I kissed her hard, caressing and pinching her mammillas through her sheer lace bra. I easily unhooked it from the front and her perfectly formed breasts sprang free, my mouth watered with wanting to suck those swollen little Hershey's Kisses. Finally, as I am slamming her with my turgid member, we both enjoyed wave after wave of pure bliss. I couldn't believe she would put herself in this completely exposed position, if someone were to round the corner, they would see a palpably compelling man with a beauty unashamedly with skirt up above her hips, and pantieless. The musky smell of her desire, which was soaking my sex by now, and the vision of a woman on the verge of the most powerful orgasm she was to attain in her life, these thoughts helped me hold out for just the time I needed.

She was now hovering on the brink, amazingly she was trying to hold back from coming to prolong the pleasure but she was losing the battle rather quickly, her deep moans started to become louder and faster, her trembling dissolved into uncontrollable jerking as her pudenda grabbed and quivered around every inch of my shaft, I was hazy with pleasure I'd never known quite like this, presently and I felt it begin to grab my aching phallus with faster rhythm, suddenly her body stiffened, her rock hard teats thrust upon my chest as her back arched, her vagina grinding into my groin, my hands now balancing her shapely buttocks as she let out one final cry of surrender and came over and over until she went limp in my arms, it was then that I finally shot my load into her, long and hot juices commingled as I spent myself fully with deep satisfaction. I leaned into her as we were wrapped in the ecstasy and exhaustion of mindblowing sex.

The moment I came back to Earth, and my senses fully recovered, I thought fast, we had gotten away with much; I slid her skirt down and urged her into the ladies room. As I watched her well-toned derrière mounted on now trembling legs that barely got her through the door, a wet spot soaked her skirt, I sighed with relief, incredible, unbelievable, I too hastened to the men's room and emerged a few minutes later glowing, relaxed and returned to my table.

Though a good man never tells, one of my friends inquired,

"What held you up?"

Jokingly I answered, "A mad passionate woman was determined to have her way with me right then and there and I didn't want to be rude."

The table of friends roared with appreciation of a good comeback. Come back, yes, she would definitely have to come back, again and again. What had just transpired was only the beginning. I swilled my wine and privately toasted my good fortune.


* FINE *


* excerpt from 'Finnegan's Journey' by © Frank Borsellino™

Friday, June 8, 2018

Anthony Bourdain R.I.P.

'Maybe that's enlightenment enough: to know that there is no final resting place of the mind; no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom...is realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go.' ~ Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Michael Bourdain was born June 25, 1956, the oldest son of Pierre Bourdain, who was an executive in the classical-music recording industry, and Gladys Bourdain, who was a long-time copy editor at The New York Times. He grew up outside New York City, in Leonia, N.J., and his parents exposed him to fine cuisine, taking him often to France, which is where he first became conscious of food. When he was in fourth grade, on a family vacation to France aboard the Queen Mary, he sat in the cabin-class dining room and ate a bowl of vichyssoise, a creamy mix of leek and potato. What surprised him was that the soup was cold.

'It was the first food I enjoyed and, more important, remembered enjoying,' he wrote in his memoir 'Kitchen Confidential'. He did not remember much else about the trip.'

Bourdain graduated from high school in 1973 and attended Vassar College, dropping out after two years, where he spent long nights drinking and smoking pot.

'I was — to be frank — a spoiled, miserable, narcissistic, self-destructing and thoughtless young lout.'

At Vassar, he met Nancy Putkoski (his first wife) before he left school for a chance at a culinary career. He spent a summer in Provincetown on Cape Cod with some friends. There, he started working as a dishwasher at a seafood restaurant and closely watched the cooks, men who dressed like pirates, with gold earrings and turquoise chokers.

'In the kitchen, they were like gods. I saw how the cooks and chefs behaved. They had sort of a swagger, got all the girls and drank everything in sight.' ~ Anthony Bourdain

The experience solidified his determination to make cooking his life's work. He then enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America in 1975 and graduated in 1978, stepping away at times to work at restaurants in Greenwich Village in Manhattan. He started at the bottom in the kitchen hierarchy, with stops at the Rainbow Room, the W.P.A. restaurant on Spring Street and Gianni's at the South Street Seaport. In everything he did, Bourdain cultivated a renegade style and bad-boy persona. For decades, he worked 13-hour days as a line cook in restaurants in New York and the Northeast, until he reached the top in the 1990s, first becoming an executive chef at Sullivan's, the restaurant next to the Ed Sullivan Theater on Broadway, and then followed by Brasserie Les Halles in 1998, serving steak frites and onion soup in Lower Manhattan.
He had been an executive chef for eight years when he sent an unsolicited article to The New Yorker about the underbelly of the restaurant world and its deceptions. To his surprise, the magazine accepted it and ran it — catching the attention of book editors. It resulted in 'Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly', a memoir that elevated Bourdain to a celebrity chef and a new career on TV. He became an instant hero to a certain breed of professional cooks and restaurant-goers when 'Kitchen Confidential' hit the best-seller lists in 2000. He is largely credited for defining an era of line cooks as warriors, exposing a kitchen culture in which drugs, drinking and long, brutal hours on the line in professional kitchens were both a badge of honor and a curse. Bourdain was open in his writing about his past addictions to heroin and cocaine.

Before he joined CNN in 2012, he spent eight seasons as the globe-trotting host of 'No Reservations' on the Travel Channel, highlighting obscure cuisine and unknown restaurants. 'No Reservations' largely focused on food and Bourdain himself. But on 'Parts Unknown', he turned the lens around, delving into different countries around the world and the people who lived in them. He explored politics and history with locals, often over plates of food and drinks. One of my favorite episodes, I have many, when he appeared with President Barack Obama on an episode of 'Parts Unknown' in Vietnam in 2016. Over cold beers, grilled pork and noodles at a restaurant in Hanoi, they discussed Vietnamese-American relations, The President's final months in office and fatherhood. Among the ones I enjoyed more, with a certain insider feel, were the many he did in Montreal, especially with my friends from Joe Beef, David McMillan and Frederick Morin.

Bourdain was found in his hotel room at Le Chambard, a luxury hotel in Kaysersberg, a village in the Alsace region of eastern France, by long time friend Eric Ripert, himself a celebrity chef and restaurateur who appeared with Bourdain on several of his shows. Bourdain had traveled to Strasbourg in France, near the country's border with Germany, with a television production crew to record an upcoming episode of 'Parts Unknown' on CNN.

'Anthony was a dear friend, and an exceptional human being, so inspiring and generous. One of the great storytellers of our time who connected with so many. I wish him peace. My love and prayers are with his family, friends and loved ones.' ~ Eric Ripert

'I could not think of a better way to say goodbye.' ~ © Frank Borsellino

© From Where I Sit™
www.fromwhereisit.co
writer/blogger/bon vivant

* photo by Alex Welsh @ The New York Times '2015 in New York City

* via The New York Times