The late celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain is shown in this photo having lunch with the Dela Cruz family in their Pasay City home.
Pinoy family in ‘Parts Unknown’ remembers Bourdain
Ghio Ong (The Philippine Star) - June 18, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The weather in December 2015 was unfamiliar – humid and rainy – to celebrity chef and travel show host Anthony Bourdain and his crew, as they shot some scenes in a crowded community in Maricaban in Pasay City.

Despite this, the Dela Cruz family, who served as host to Bourdain and “Parts Unknown” staff, felt his warmth and sincerity.

A segment of the show’s Christmas episode about Manila, aired in early 2016 on CNN, featured the family’s matriarch Aurora Medina cooking the well-known Kapampangan kare-kare (oxtail, pork hocks, calves feet, pig feet, beef, or offal stewed in peanut sauce), as she told Bourdain stories on her being an overseas Filipino worker (OFW). 

Erik Osterholm, “Parts Unknown” executive producer, earlier got in touch with Aurora’s daughter Analyn dela Cruz and requested to show her mother cooking, Analyn told The STAR last Saturday.

For 30 years, Aurora had been Osterholm’s nanny in the US, The STAR learned.

Analyn and her cousin Jhoy fondly recalled how Bourdain made them feel no different from him, in spite of his celebrity status.

“We never expected that all of a sudden, someone would knock on our gate and tell us he is Bourdain. I just scratched my head. I told myself: ‘isn’t he the famous chef that we watch on TV?’” said Analyn.

The family was not prepared for Bourdain joining them for lunch, Analyn claimed. They took out and set up whatever they had, from mono bloc chairs and tables to scraps of cloth to cover the tables, to plates of different colors and mismatched utensils.

While having lunch on the rooftop of the Dela Cruz building, Bourdain asked questions and told stories, which Analyn and Jhoy noted were not scripted.

Bourdain told them that a Filipina served as nanny to his daughter and revealed that his child was more familiar with Filipino food than his own cooking.

“He was amazed and wanted to know what was with Filipino food that his daughter acquired a taste for it,” Jhoy recalled.

Bourdain wanted to know how sinangag – the Filipino version of fried rice – was cooked, which his daughter liked the most.

“He (claimed to have) cooked the dish for around an hour, but his daughter did not like it and instead chose the sinangag (of) her yaya (nanny),” Analyn said.

He also shared his amazement at Filipinos’ love of bonding with family and friends and the seeming obsession with food during these moments.

Above all, he expressed his admiration toward Filipinas, who he said are “dedicated and loving toward (children in their care), treating them like their own.”

“Even if he is away due to his work, he does not worry that his daughter would get sad, as she is in good hands,” Analyn said.

In the same episode, Analyn’s mother Aurora talked about being an OFW.

Bourdain read Osterholm’s letter to Aurora, saying “I am 100 percent the man I am today because this woman raised me literally from when I was six months old… There are literally thousands of people around the world, me included, who would have been influenced by her kindness and love.”

Aurora sang “Edelweiss,” a song from the movie “The Sound of Music,” which Analyn and Jhoy claimed was sang upon Osterholm’s request.

Osterholm was unable to join the shoot because he had a previous commitment.

“We never felt awkward with (Bourdain)… We can say he was being (true), who chatted and laughed with us even off-camera,” Analyn said.

Bourdain carried his own plate of kare-kare with bagoong alamang (shrimp paste) and rice when it suddenly rained, Analyn said, adding that he gave her a scarf and a hat, both yellow, which is her favorite color.

Jhoy described Bourdain as “serious, but can give you even a little smile.”

“Imagine Bourdain walking on our street with just his cameraman… He was happy walking there, smiling at the kids whenever they called out ‘hey, Joe,’ to him. He was a normal guy,” said Jhoy.

Analyn learned about Bourdain’s death through an email message from Osterholm’s mother Anne, hours before CNN announced his death.

Even Analyn and Jhoy’s neighbors wanted to know what drove Bourdain to end his life.

The Dela Cruz family, particularly Aurora, was shocked and saddened by Bourdain’s sudden death.

“(My mother Aurora) cried when I visited her… she said, of all the people she met, she never expected that Bourdain would commit suicide,” Analyn said.

Aurora, now 80, is recuperating at a hospital in Tarlac province after suffering from hypertension while she was gardening.

“I told her, ‘you should call Erik, now,’ but she told me, not now… She said if she calls Erik, she would also cry… she would fail to become Erik’s source of strength,” Analyn said, wiping away tears.

Masses are being offered for Bourdain by the Dela Cruz family, led by Analyn, at the nearby Mary, Comforter of the Afflicted Chapel.

“This is what we can offer as our gift for Bourdain,” she said.

  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?
Login is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with