Local chef remembers impactful meeting with Anthony Bourdain

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Anthony Bourdain, who authorities said died of suicide Friday morning, visited Milwaukee in 2010. 

Ahead of a show at the Riverside Theater, Paul Zerkel, now chef/co-owner of Goodkind in Bay View, cooked for the well-known chef and journalist. 

Zerkel said he'd long been a fan of Bourdain, who he thinks did a good job of providing his TV viewers with an authentic look at the sometimes chaotic nature of restaurant kitchens. 

"I was just a line cook when he kind of came onto the scene," Zerkel said. "He was groundbreaking, the way he viewed and described kitchens." 

"I think every line cook around the country read his stuff and said, 'yeah, that's what it's like,'" Zerkel said. 

According to Zerkel, Bourdain was widely respected among the restaurant community for his willingness to travel in order to explore new cuisines and the people behind them.

"I think that's the love he brought to experiencing the world and dining all around the world, was dining with people," Zerkel said. 

When Bourdain visited the Riverside, Zerkel and the rest of the kitchen prepared - fittingly - bratwurst. 

"At the time, we thought we were being clever," Zerkel said. 

Following the show, Zerkel had the chance to meet and chat with Bourdain for almost an hour. 

He said the culinary journalist praised Milwaukee's up-and-coming food scene. 

"That was a real pat on the back to us as chefs," Zerkel said. "It showed people on the outside are noticing." 

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