A Chinese restaurant chain is paying tribute to chef and TV host Anthony Bourdain by supporting mental health services.
Following Bourdain’s death, Xi’an Famous Foods, a small chain in New York City, announced last week that it would donate 100 percent of June 8’s net sales to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. And on Monday, CEO Jason Wang revealed that his restaurants raised $ 73,509.76 for the organization.
“With your heartfelt support, along with the hard work of our store staff, we were able to serve almost double the amount of dishes as usual during dinner on Friday 6/8/18, with some stores selling out of items towards the end of the night,” Wang wrote in an Instagram update. “Thank you for helping us with this tribute to our friend.”
Bourdain, who died last week at the age of 61, was a hugely influential figure in Wang’s life. In an essay for HuffPost Personal, Wang explained that his father had launched Xi’an Famous Foods using the savings he had accumulated from years of working in Chinese restaurants as a delivery person, busser, cook and server.
“Opening the 200-square-foot space in the basement food court of the Golden Shopping Mall meant he had to move from our ‘cushy’ one-bedroom basement apartment to living in one room inside a shared apartment,” Wang wrote of the original location in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens.
When Bourdain found the restaurant and filmed a segment about it, everything changed, Wang said. Lines grew longer and, eventually, he and his father expanded the business. Years later, Wang and Bourdain sat down for an interview with WSJ Magazine, and Wang had a few words of thanks for the TV host.
“I told him his visit to our store in Flushing changed our lives and helped us get to where we are today ― from living in one room in Flushing to living the American dream,” the CEO wrote. “I looked him in the eyes and told him, ‘I want you to know my family will always be thankful for that, Tony.’”
Many people in the Asian community, have long seen Bourdain as an ally, sitting down with native chefs to understand the cuisine ― rather than tokenizing it.
“Bourdain never treated our food like he ‘discovered’ it,” Los Angeles-based comedian Jenny Yang tweeted following the host’s death. “He kicked it with grandma because he knew that HE was the one that needed to catch up to our brilliance.”
If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HOME to 741-741 for free, 24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of resources.