Local chefs reflect on culinary icon’s life for Bourdain Day

DENVER -- June 25 would have been Anthony Bourdain’s 63rd birthday. Celebrity chefs Eric Ripert and José Andrés invited the world to share how they are celebrating Bourdain’s memory by sharing a post on social media and using the hashtag #BourdainDay.

Bourdain was the host of "Parts Unknown" after a long career in the restaurant industry, a popular book and several other hit culinary shows. He took his own life last June after suffering with depression for years.

John Hinman of Hinman’s Bakery in Denver says Bourdain’s passing undoubtedly inspired people in his business to pay closer attention to their own mental health and well-being.

Hinman helped start CHOW. It stands for Culinary Hospitality Outreach and Wellness. The support group meets every week, when they talk about the stresses and pressure of the restaurant business and healthy ways to cope.

A year later, Hinman says it’s clear his industry needed this outlet.

“It was a time for that conversation to start to happen. It’s unfortunate that Anthony Bourdain was the catalyst for this, and not only with CHOW. There’s a bunch of more groups that have sprung up all across the nation that I'm in communication with to see how we can come up with one voice,” said Hinman.

Eric Chiappetta, host of the "Chef or Death" podcast in Denver, attends CHOW. As a chef for 30 years, he felt it was a good way to talk to others who might understand some of his concerns and struggles.

“For him to be in such a dark place that he would take his life, really kind of woke all of us up that we are allowed to and should deal with our demons,” said Chiapetta. He likes the idea of celebrating what he has learned in the last year and how Bourdain’s death inspired him to start the podcast.

Chris Bennett works with a local Sushi restaurant group and has been in the industry for 19 years. He also attends CHOW.

“Groups like this are actually perfect for those of us who need to know we are not the only ones feeling the feelings that we have. We are not the only ones who care enough about our mental health to actually explain what we are going through and have other people listen,” said Bennett.

He too plans to  reflect on Bourdain’s legacy on Tuesday and how part of his legacy will be how he brought the conversation about mental health to the forefront for so many of his peers.

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