Neil deGrasse Tyson Comments On Anthony Bourdain’s Passion For The Science Of Food In Moving ‘CNN’ Interview

‘If we found life on Mars, he would go there and find out what kind of food it’s eating,’ said Tyson.

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Following the tragic death of Anthony Bourdain, many of the people who were close to him in life have come forward to express their grief and talk about the great impact that the beloved chef, author, and philosopher has had on their lives.

Neil deGrasse Tyson is among the celebrities that have voiced their regret after Bourdain’s apparent suicide. In an interview for CNN earlier today, the astrophysicist looked sincerely pained by the loss of the 61-year-old author and TV star, who had appeared several times on Tyson’s TV show Star Talk, reports Inverse.

“When you lose a life, particularly one that is lost tragically and not sort of by natural causes — especially for me and certainly for everyone — it hits that much more deeply because of so much effort that I know we spend in this search for life in the universe,” Tyson said.

“But at least we got to share this universe with him.”

Initially invited to CNN to talk about NASA’s latest discovery on Mars, Tyson learned about Bourdain’s death while in the studio, right before the scheduled interview. As a result, the conversation, which you can watch below, shifted from the potential of finding life on the Red Planet to the preciousness of life on Earth and in the entire universe.

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According to Tyson, the late host of Parts Unknown was a friend of the astrophysicist’s show airing on the National Geographic Channel, in which he made a few appearances as a guest over the years.

As Tyson recalls, the celebrity chef was enthralled with the science of food and with exploring the unknown, both from a culinary perspective and as a life philosophy.

“We talked about the science of food and the relationship between culture and what foods you would eat or have the likelihood of eating depending where you are — what latitude you are on Earth, what foods you prefer, how much spice is in it,” Tyson said.

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The world-class astrophysicist also talked about Bourdain’s meager beginnings and his inspiring strength to overcome drug addiction and go on to “touch the lives of others” through his books and TV shows.

Described in the interview as a food philosopher, Bourdain had more of a “deep street philosophy,” notes Tyson, saying that, unlike many TV personalities, “He was through and through authentic and you knew that watching him.”

When asked what would a hypothetical Parts Unknown episode look like if Bourdain had the chance to travel to Mars and encounter alien life, Tyson jokingly replied that the celebrity chef wouldn’t shy away from exploring Martian cuisine.

“If we found life on Mars, he would go there and find out what kind of food it’s eating.”

While passionate about food and its deep roots in culture, Bourdain was also invested in scientific research, particularly related to climate change, Inverse reports.

The media outlet makes note of the late chef’s support for science, especially during his journey to Antarctica in May, 2017, where he went to shoot an episode of Parts Unknown and reportedly spent most of his time with the scientists stationed there, conducting research with the team.

In one of the “Field Notes” describing the experience on the Parts Unknown blog, Bourdain praised the science crew for their tireless effort “in decidedly Spartan conditions,” describing them as “an incredible community” and reaching out to the public to tell their story in his signature style.

Inverse argues that, in a way, Bourdain was almost a scientist himself, judging by his vast appetite for exploration.


If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. For readers outside the U.S., visit Suicide.org or Befrienders Worldwide for international resources you can use to find help.