Former President Barack Obama offered a touching tribute to Anthony Bourdain, who died Friday at the age of 61. Obama tweeted about a meal he shared with the chef, author, and television host in Vietnam in 2016 and honored him for his efforts to “make us a little less afraid of the unknown.”
During a trip to Vietnam in 2016, Obama sat down with Bourdain for his CNN travel and food show Parts Unknown. They ate noodles and drank a beer at Bún chả Hương Liên in Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. The meal cost $6.
“‘Low plastic stool, cheap but delicious noodles, cold Hanoi beer,’” Obama tweeted on Friday in the wake of news of Bourdain’s death, apparently by suicide. “That’s how I’ll remember Tony. He taught us about food — but more importantly, about its ability to bring us together. To make us a little less afraid of the unknown. We’ll miss him.”
Bourdain appeared to have remembered their meal fondly as well. He posted about it on social media soon after it took place, joking on Twitter that he had picked up the check.
He told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that year that the White House had reached out to his team about a potential appearance — an opportunity he welcomed, assuming it was done his way.
“For whatever reason, [President Obama] seemed willing to play, and my feeling was, if we’re going to do this, we should do it right,” Bourdain said. “I mean, we shouldn’t be sitting in a banquet room at the Hilton. We should do what we do, which was hang out in some working-class place.”
He remembered fellow restaurant-goers’ reaction to the president’s appearance. “They flipped,” he said. And, really, one of the great things that came out of it was the reaction of ordinary Vietnamese people.”
Bourdain also wrote about his experience with Obama in a piece for CNN: