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The Time Anthony Bourdain Gave D.C. Cooks the Only Advice They Needed to Know

The late TV personality made a real difference at local charity DC Central Kitchen

Food personality Andrew Zimmern points to Anthony Bourdain while on stage at DC Central Kitchen’s annual Capital Food Fight fundraiser.
Amy McKeever/Eater

In addition to helping raise millions of dollars for cooks-in-training in D.C., late chef turned travel show host Anthony Bourdain once offered the spellbound kitchen workers at DC Central Kitchen (DCCK) a hands-on tutorial they will never forget.

“He pulled out celery, carrots, and an onion and said, ‘I’m going to give you the only kitchen advice you need to know,” DCCK CEO Michael Curtin says of the intimate moment Bourdain shared with the aspiring hospitality professionals. And with that, the Les Halles alum showed everyone how to make a textbook mirepoix, assuring them that the technique would prove invaluable.

Bourdain, who died June 8, was a familiar site at DCCK’s annual fundraiser, Capital Food Fight. DCCK CEO Michael Curtin says Bourdain agreed to co-host the gourmet gala with pal José Andrés back in 2005, and wound up coming back repeatedly over the past decade.

“He was as close to a regular as you could get without being a local,” Curtin says of Bourdain’s presence at the homegrown cooking competition. According to Curtin, Bourdain’s participation was a welcome boost that benefited countless job seekers who have worked their way through DCCK’s culinary training program.

“His participation early on made this a high-profile food event that has raised over $6 million to help people find self-sufficiency in the restaurant business,” Curtin tells Eater. Bourdain was so committed to the cause, Curtin recalls him taking the stage one night and telling attendees that he’d just gotten off a red-eye flight from Romania to be there.

One of the most treasured memories Curtin has of Bourdain is the time he visited DCCK with the No Reservations crew in tow. “Everyone in Washington was begging him to come to their place. But he chose to come talk to our people,” he says.

Bourdain also took a shine to DCCK graduate turned employee Bo Sims. The two discussed the challenges of everyday life while picking steamed crabs at the historic Maine Avenue Fish Market.

That’s how Curtin chooses to remember Bourdain.

“Just two guys, talking about the power of food,” he says.

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