Photo courtesy of CNN/Parts Unknown
Anthony Bourdain, who died on June 8, showcased the diversity of Queens on his CNN show "Parts Unknown."

After visiting Queens for his CNN show “Parts Unknown,” Anthony Bourdain admitted to being embarrassed that — as a native New Yorker — he hadn’t been to the place “where cooks and cultures from all over the world collide and mix in glorious ways” more often.

“It’s America — when America was still seen and believed to be an idea: a place for people from all over the world to be free, to better their lives, to build a new future,” he wrote in a blog post. “To say such things these days is unpopular. But Queens, I hope, is an argument for the founders’ original intent, a place where America still offers the world something of inestimable value: hope — and in return, receives so much.”

Queens residents and fans of Bourdain, the popular chef and world traveller, were shocked to learn on Friday morning that he had died of an apparent suicide in France. He was 61.

Bourdain filmed his Queens episode of “Parts Unknown” in the fall of 2016, following the presidential election. The episode showcased a rally held at Jackson Heights’ Diversity Plaza against the politics and policies of Donald Trump.

The 60-minute episode brought the viewer to most every corner of the borough, introducing us to a variety of business owners and personalities who help make Queens a great place to live and work. They included Evelia Coyotzi, a Mexican immigrant who lost her job after 9/11 but launched her own tamale business in Jackson Heights; Heems, a Queens-native rapper who dined with Bourdain at Flushing’s Yu Garden Dumpling House; and Loycent Gordon, a Jamaican-born New York City firefighter who owns Woodhaven’s Neir’s Tavern, one of the most historic watering holes in Queens.

Ali Najmi, a community organizer and attorney from Queens, shared a meal with Bourdain in the episode. The pair ate at Lhasa Fast Food in Jackson Heights following the November 2016 presidential election. Najmi said that one of his best memories from the experience was meeting Bourdain, who said that the work Najmi did was “important now more than ever” in the context of Donald Trump’s presidency.

“He loved food, but he loved the people behind the food even more,” Najmi said.

On Twitter, Queens residents and natives expressed shock over Bourdain’s death, but appreciation over how he presented the borough on “Parts Unknown.”

Suicide rates have spiked across New York City in recent years. A New York City Health Department report in 2016 found that suicides increased 11.7 percent citywide between 2000 and 2014. Over that same period of time, the rate of suicides rose from 4.3 per 100,000 people in 2000 to 5.7 per 100,000 people in 2014.

It’s never too late to seek help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255 if you or someone you care about is in need of help. 

Jenna Bagcal and Ryan Kelley contributed to this report.


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