With the passing of Anthony Bourdain, we decided to take a look back at his brush with our local Lowcountry cuisine. Back in 2007, the Gullah Grub Restaurant on St. Helena Island was featured on an episode of the Travel Channel’s No Reservations with the late Bourdain enjoying the company of owner Bill Green and his family along with a plate full of…what else?
Green remembers the visit well. “He was such a nice man,” Bill recalls. “He sat down in our restaurant and acted just like one of us and was excited to be able to enjoy some Frogmore stew and some red rice.”
“It meant a lot to me that he thought enough of us to be here and to put our little restaurant in Frogmore on his show.”
Millions loved Bourdain because he took a non-discriminatory tone to every city he visited. He tried anything his hosts put in front of him, often saying that street food was the best thing he tried in any country because it was made by natives.
Viewers welcomed Bourdain into their homes, too, as he allowed his fans to travel the world through his eyes. Along the way, he raised the profile of many towns and many chefs.
“It’s funny,” Green added. “When they re-run the episode of the show our restaurant gets slammed busy with folks from all over. It’s how I know it’s been on television again,” he said with a smile.
“The South is not a monolith,” Bourdain once said. “There are pockets of weirdness and awesomeness and important things have been happening with food.”
His passing was mourned around the world as people remembered his life. Bourdain’s initial fame wasn’t from television, his book titled Kitchen Confidential pulled back the curtain on the restaurant industry and the real struggles both chefs and staff face everyday.
“Like so many others around the world, we here at the Gullah Grub Restaurant are devastated at the loss of Anthony Bourdain,” Green said. “We were fortunate to have him visit and showcase the restaurant, my family, Gullah cooking and even our involvement with fox hunting for his show.”
“His support helped to introduce our cooking to the world. He will be missed.”
His recent death means the world got a little smaller, but the world also received a small taste of life in the Lowcountry because he came here.
What about the Frogmore stew, we asked?
“He loved it”, Green said.