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What Anthony Bourdain meant to us

Each Friday on Radio Milwaukee, Milwaukee Magazine’s dining critic, Ann Christenson, and 88Nine’s foodie Tarik Moody discuss Milwaukee’s culinary and restaurant culture on This Bites. This Bites is supported by Society Insurance. This week, we're remembering Anthony Bourdain, our favorite episodes of "No Reservations" and what his storytelling meant to us and the world, culinary and otherwise. Then, we give you some updates on food news like the YMCA's culinary camps and some Father's Day events.

Read more and listen to the whole podcast below to hear our whole conversation.

Remembering Anthony Bourdain

Beyond the fact that it was about food, we loved Anthony Bourdain's show because he took his storytelling to an authentic level like no one else did. While the rest of the culinary world often treats culture superficially like a trend, Bourdain was the antidote to this as he showed the food that everyday people around the world eat and what those dishes mean to them. He didn't call himself a journalist, but he was everything a food journalist, travel journalist or any storyteller should be.

He inspired us to try something new in the kitchen and to travel to new places—but not just to enjoy food as a tourist—rather, to create relationships and enjoy multicultural conversations as a human.

The episodes of "No Reservations" that have stood out to us over the years were when he went to Iceland, Hong Kong, Korea and Mississippi. To us, these ones represent what he did best: He went to corners of the world that are often overlooked, like in Iceland. He didn't lump cultures together, like in Hong Kong, when he focused on how the autonomous region has its own unique identity, separate from China. He didn't talk about food as if it exists in a vacuum apart from the people and their history, like when he dug deep into the significance of many Korean foods and ingredients, while talking about the struggles of people escaping North Korea. And, he showed that there is so much more to people and places than their stereotyped images, like he did when he visited Mississippi.

Bourdain's loss leaves a hole of empathy in the universe, but it's one of the best things we can learn from him. Milwaukee chef, former Vanguard and current Snack Boys owner Shay Linkus wrote a great op-ed in the Milwaukee Record about what Bourdain taught us all about empathy and what his death by suicide should add to that lesson. Though you can share the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (which is 1-800-273-8255, if you need it), Linkus writes that a little understanding goes a long way, and recognizing when people around you are going through a hard time and reaching out to them goes even further.

Upcoming food events in Milwaukee

YMCA culinary youth summer camps

Whether your kid is the next MasterChef Junior, needs to learn to eat more greens or just wants to try something new, Milwaukee's local YMCAs are hosting culinary-themed camps this summer. They're doing one called Y Chefs, where kids will learn how to cook, create recipes and participate in a cooking competition. There's also a camp called Farm to Table, where kids will explore local farms, farmers markets, stores and gardens to learn where our food comes from and about eating fresh, healthy food.

Father's Day events

Here are some ideas for taking your pops out to eat on Sunday for Father's Day:

Bass Bay Brewhouse in Muskego has a great lake view and a casual supper club-style brunch that's sure to be dad-approved with plates like the Wisconsin Breakfast.

The Bavarian Bierhaus is having a Father's Day picnic in Old Heidelberg Park featuring rotisserie chicken, burgers, brats, hot dogs and lots of beer. They'll also have live music from noon to 4 p.m.

And, you can't go wrong with treating your dad with a traditional steak dinner. Palmer's Steakhouse is a great choice in downtown Heartland for their famous bone-in meats. They're closed on actual Father's Day, but it's the perfect stop if you're celebrating on Saturday or Monday.

P.S., if you are a chef or a restaurant and have a food-related announcement or event, please send us any information or press release to

Director of Digital | Radio Milwaukee