June 25 marks what would have been Anthony Bourdain's 63rd birthday. To celebrate, those who knew him best are asking anyone who was inspired by the iconic chef to share their favorite memories as part of a tribute to his legacy.
"We decided to celebrate his birthday instead of June 8 — because that was obviously a sad day — to highlight his many contributions," chef Ripert told TODAY Food. "We don't want people to take advantage of it [Bourdain's death]. That's why we have been proactive in creating this day. We have made it easy for everyone to celebrate Anthony."
To participate, fans around the world may simply upload a video or picture of themselves toasting to "Tony" (as many of his pals called him) to Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, and include the hashtag #BourdainDay. All of the entries will serve as a digital memorial to Bourdain.
A year has passed since the chef, author and beloved storyteller passed away. His impact, however, is stronger than ever, as he is still celebrated by millions who continue to read his many works and watch his award-winning shows.
"Every Sunday night, he was in every living room, every kitchen, every bedroom on the TV — and he was very inspiring. It was journalism, but it was a very different way of storytelling," Ripert said of his friend's ability to connect with viewers. "You were with him eating street food — people could relate to that since it was not intimidating."
In addition to celebrating Bourdain's legacy on social media, his friends also announced that Bourdain's alma mater, the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), will be "establishing a fund in his name to support study-abroad scholarships for CIA students," according to a representative for the school.
The Anthony Bourdain Legacy Scholarship, which is currently accepting donations, will be awarded to current CIA students pursuing a semester abroad or taking part in one of the CIA's global cuisine and culture international programs. The total count of scholarships awarded will be based on the number of applicants and how much money is donated.
CIA is currently accepting donations through its website, and plans to issue the first round of scholarships for the winter 2020 semester.
Ripert is excited that his friend's passion for different cuisines and cultures will continue to inspire new generations of gifted chefs.
This fall, CIA will also honor Bourdain’s legacy with a permanent memorial on its Hyde Park campus in New York.
Of course, Bourdain didn't just teach his fans new things — he also provided a unique type of mentorship to Ripert. When the two traveled together, Ripert said that his friend taught him the value of connecting with others.
"At the end of the night, I'd be tired and want to go back to the hotel. But Tony would say, 'No, we're signing every last picture and book.' And we would stay until the end, 'til the very last person," Ripert said. "He taught me patience and how to be grateful, how to be better on TV and how to socialize with fans."
Back in May, to announce the first #BourdainDay tribute, Ripert posted a video with his friend Andrés.
"On June 25th we are celebrating Anthony Bourdain's birthday. And we want all of you to celebrate with us," Andrés says.
Ripert continues: "By cheering to Tony anywhere you want, with anyone you want and we will be using the hashtag Bourdain Day and cheers to Anthony! Cheers to you, Anthony!"
The duo each raise a porrón (a Spanish decanter that pours a thin stream of wine directly into the drinker's mouth) and, with a smile, the chefs toast to their friend before taking a long, festive sip.
The first annual #BourdainDay allows all of Bourdain's friends, fans and family members to remember his many achievements. With his relaxed cadence, endless wealth of knowledge and sense of humor, Bourdain was admired by those who only knew him from TV — as well as the many fans who had the chance to meet him in person.
That approachability, said Ripert, is something that can't be underestimated.
"He was so popular that he couldn't walk in the street without being stopped. But he was really, really good with his fans," the chef said. "[He] always posed for pictures and was incredibly patient."
Despite the constant admiration Bourdain received, Ripert believes that his friend never took his success for granted, adding, "I don’t think he had any idea of the impact he had worldwide."