Evan Piña-White has been a foodie since he was a little boy and Anthony Bourdain was his favorite.
Evan was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia when he was in middle school and would binge-watch Bourdain’s television shows while he went through his chemotherapy treatments.
“That was how Evan filled his time at the hospital,” said Brian Miller with Make-A-Wish Missouri. “He fell in love with Anthony Bourdain and everything about his show.”
After a tough round of chemotherapy in 2010, Evan got to meet Bourdain at a book signing event in St. Louis. The 11-year-old asked where he should go to get the best seafood once he beat his disease, Miller said.
Bourdain told him to eat his way through Spain.
After the event, Bourdain chatted with Evan backstage and signed a book for him, Miller said. They kept in touch over email.
Evan had qualified for a wish through Make-A-Wish and decided he wanted to go on a Mediterranean cruise, so he could follow Bourdain’s advice.
When Evan was well enough to make the trip in 2012, Bourdain sent him his list of the best restaurants to visit.
Miller said the list was not part of Evans’ wish and that Bourdain reached out on his own.
Reporter Evan Benn covered Bourdain’s visit and Evan’s trip when he worked at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He said that Bourdain’s assistant contacted him to get in touch with the family.
He shared the memory on Twitter on Friday, and told CNN that Bourdain did not want his involvement to be a part of the story.
Before he left for Barcelona, then 13-year-old Evan said meeting Bourdain gave him the boost he needed during his treatment.
Asking for help
The suicide rate in the United States has seen sharp increases in recent years. Studies have shown that the risk of suicide declines sharply when people call the national suicide hotline: 1-800-273-TALK.
The International Association for Suicide Prevention and Befrienders Worldwide also provide contact information for crisis centers around the world.
“He may not realize it, but he inspires a lot of people to live life a little more, to get off the couch and do something,” Evan told the Post-Dispatch. “He’s someone I can look up to.”
Miller on Friday spoke to Evan’s mom, Mary White, and said they were saddened to hear that Bourdain had died by suicide.
“Anthony’s relationship with Evan is a true revelation of his character. His friendship with Evan was amazing. He was a very good man and a very good friend. His generosity and spirit will truly be missed,” White said in a statement.
Evan’s cancer is in remission.
“Young Evan is doing fantastic,” Miller said. “He beat his cancer and is in college on a full scholarship.”
The family still has the autographed book and has framed mementos from the trip and his experience with Bourdain.