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Marilyn Hagerty: Anthony Bourdain 'tall and handsome and pleasant'

Herald columnist Marilyn Hagerty poses with celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain in New York City.1 / 2
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Dear Carrie,

The phone went crazy. The messages flowed in. For a few days, things were again wild around here.

You remember all the commotion when I went viral seven years ago? I was on all those national TV shows. I especially enjoyed Anderson Cooper, who invited me back twice. It all happened after I wrote a restaurant review about the Olive Garden coming to town.

You were studying journalism at UND then. Now you are in law school in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Well, let me tell you, Carrie, things again went wild around here. It's calming down now. But after the suicide death of Anthony Bourdain last week, my telephone lighted up. My computer keyboard was filling up.

I did national interviews. I answered questions by telling reporters how Anthony Bourdain came to my side when I wrote a review about the Olive Garden coming to Grand Forks. He defended me against the critics.

Not ridiculous

When I met up with him in New York, he told me he at first thought the review was ridiculous. Then he decided I was writing about the way people eat in mid America—not on the coasts and major cities.

He said he found my writing down to earth. And he wanted to publish the book of my Grand Forks Herald columns titled "Grand Forks: A history of American Dining in 128 Reviews."

It is a Bourdain book. It tells about dumplings at Viking, Minn., and German cuisine at Sanders 1907 in Grand Forks. In the forward to the book, Bourdain wrote: "The territory covered here is not New York or Paris or London or San Francisco. And Marilyn Hagerty is none of these people...If you knew her name before picking up this book, it probably was because of her infamously guileless Olive Garden review, which went viral and caused a tidal wave of snarky derision, followed by an even stronger anti-snark backlash...followed by an invitation to be on Anderson Cooper and the Today Show, dinner at Le Bernardin, an appearance on Top Chef along with the Al Neuharth journalism award — a sudden and unexpected elevation to media darling.''

Tall, handsome

It's pretty much all over now. I told the national media people that I knew Anthony Bourdain only briefly. He was tall and handsome and pleasant. He told me about his little girl, who was 5 at the time.

Suicide Scare

My heart breaks when I think of suicide, Carrie. Just recently, I heard professionals from caring agencies say there is help. They encourage people to talk about their feelings.

For all his jubilance, Anthony Bourdain must have been a troubled soul. He also was an amazing man.

Take care, Carrie. Watch out for all that traffic in New York. Write when you have time.

Your grandmother, Marilyn, back down to earth again in Grand Forks