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Anthony Bourdain, My Camera, and Me: What Melanie Dunea Learned from Her Iconic Nude Portrait of the Late Chef

Time to shoot bones. Warmed up with courage and tequila, I took us back to the studio. I instruct Tony to change, turning my back to give him some privacy while he walks towards the covered dressing room.

At the filming motorcycle, I whispered to my assistant, “Try not to be too obvious, but you’re on patrol.” I don’t shoot nudity; usually my subject wears at least some clothes. And I really don’t want to see my friend’s penis – too weird.

I fiddled with the pre-arranged cart.

“Make sure nothing shows up in the photo,” I continued. In those days, I was still filming and hadn’t explored computer editing yet. A shot is a shot.

When I turned around, Tony was wearing a colorful sarong, lighting a cigarette. I showed him the tape marked NS on the floor where I want him to stand.

I opened the blood-stained bone packet and used a paper towel to dry it. My assistant holds it while Tony adjusts himself and I grab the camera.

“Keep the cigarette,” I urge.

I knelt on the floor with a wide angle lens and shot up. The skeleton looks huge and his head looks tiny. I switched out to get a panoramic photo. I focused on trying to keep the dash wall level with the camera’s frame. I pride myself on capturing and printing full frame, so you can see the edges of the film on the photo. That means you know what you want when you shoot it, no need to depend on cropping afterwards.

Ten minutes later, I had taken more than 50 pictures. I have finished. I said so. Moments later, Tony was dressed and gone.

A teacher once told me to leave a place when you find it, leaving no trace or hint that you’ve been there. I threw the bone out and it hit the bottom of a giant industrial metal barrel with a loud, slamming sound.

The first time I let any chef see a picture of them was at the launch party at Le Bernardin, my favorite restaurant in town. Hosted by Éric Ripert. We hung 50 20 x 23 photos around the room, one of which was a portrait of each chef. I am very excited and worried about their reaction. Especially Tony. I put the bone picture on the back wall where Tony and his then wife, Ottavia, will be seated. I don’t think it’s polite to force him to face the photo while eating the whole dinner.

We have countless bottles of champagne, all marked “My Last Supper” in clear white jelly; six liters of methuselahs for the waiter to pour and lots of small bottles for cheering. It was a lavish champagne party. The Frostmen almost let me down when they told me it was a sacrifice to make da Vinci The Last Supper painting into a vodka luge.

We set up the restaurant so that all guests have to enter by the dock instead of the regular door. Anyone who tried to get through the security barrier found only the front door locked; They all had to cross the kitchen on their way in, taking a sip of vodka and a glass of foie gras on the way to their seats.

As everyone revolves around enjoying the appetizer, chef Martin Picard from Montreal came to me and said that if he didn’t see the book right away, he’d make a big scene.

“I didn’t come all the way here to wait around.” Thirty-six chefs flew in to celebrate with me. None of them have seen the book. I declined entertainment, that sounds very interesting. But I was playing with fire so I had someone take his book right away.

After my thank-you speech, I drank champagne that was worth my weight. I hug everyone. And you know what, people started dancing, that’s how I know they enjoyed it as much as I did. The last thing I remember was dancing with Josh Ozersky, New York The magazine’s street food critic Grub, who I love. I left right after Daniel Boulud broke the piano to dance on it. (Goodbye, deposit.)

The press responds immediately My last dinner. My publisher, the concept is “fixed”, Karen, explain. Easy for everyone to understand and relate to. My photo of Fergus Henderson balancing a pig’s head cut off with its cover Guardians‘NS Weekend magazine, a brave choice that drives vegans into a frenzy. Legal!

The bone photo is at the center of it all. Many press requests, asked about that photo, asked me to bring Tony with me for an interview. When I did, he refused.

Meanwhile, NPR’s Magnificent table want to chat, Canada calls, Australia wants to print their own version. The UK wants to have their own new cover with the chefs’ names on them. I smile when I have a tiny paperback, Chinese version. I evaluated TV-studio lounges, aka green rooms, like a Michelin inspector. I gave five stars to Rachel Ray Demonstrating and crafting warm, delicious and impressive grilled cheese.

https://www.vanityfair.com/style/2021/07/bourdain-my-camera-and-me | Anthony Bourdain, My Camera, and Me: What Melanie Dunea Learned from Her Iconic Nude Portrait of the Late Chef

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