photo: Getty

Anthony Bourdain has always been a proud and vocal advocate of both immigrants and undocumented immigrants. As a renowned chef, entrepreneur, and a globe-trotting foodie, Bourdain has worked alongside the finest immigrants in the food industry.

So, while being interviewed on “Stand Up! with Pete Dominick,” Bourdain was asked about his view on undocumented immigrants, to that he responded:

“Like a lot of other white kids, I rolled out of a prestigious culinary institute and went to work in real restaurants… I walked into restaurants and the person always who’d been there the longest, who took the time to show me how it was done, was always Mexican or Central American. Never in any of those years, not once, did anyone walk into my restaurant — any American-born kid walk into my restaurant — and say, ‘I’d like a job as a night porter or as a dishwasher. [They are] not willing to start at the bottom like that.”

He also added that if Donald Trump would deport “11 million people or whatever he’s talking about right now, every restaurant in America would shut down.” Bourdain called Trump’s idea of building a wall “ridiculous” and said that people who’ve “been living here, and who are so much part of our lives, and who have done nothing but do their best to achieve the American dream … there should be an easy path to legality.”

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Earlier this year Bourdain tweeted about the loss of Carlos Llaguno Morales, his employee and mentee, whom Bourdain called his brother. Morales, from Mexico, was the executive chef in charge of two Les Halles locations in New York City before he died of cancer at the age of 38.

Bourdain said that immigrants are the “backbone of the industry, meaning most of the people, in my experience, cooking” and that in his 20 years in the business did he ever get applications from U.S. citizens for low-level positions.

According to a report by the Economic Policy Institute "roughly one in six restaurant workers (15.7 percent) are non-naturalized immigrants, nearly double the share outside the restaurant industry." 

The study also states that "restaurant workers are mostly white non-Hispanic (55.9 percent), but restaurant workers are much more likely to be Hispanic than workers in other industries; nearly one-quarter (24.8 percent) of restaurant workers are Hispanic, compared with 15.2 percent in other industries."

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Last year, Bourdain wrote about that very topic on his tumblr page:

“Despite our ridiculously hypocritical attitudes towards immigration, we demand that Mexicans cook a large percentage of the food we eat, grow the ingredients we need to make that food, clean our houses, mow our lawns, wash our dishes, look after our children. As any chef will tell you, our entire service economy—the restaurant business as we know it—in most American cities, would collapse overnight without Mexican workers. Some, of course, like to claim that Mexicans are “stealing American jobs”. But in two decades as a chef and employer, I never had ONE American kid walk in my door and apply for a dishwashing job, a porter’s position—or even a job as prep cook. Mexicans do much of the work in this country that Americans, probably, simply won’t do.”

Bourdain isn't the only one who recognizes how reliant the restaurant industry has been on immigrants. George Mason University economics professor Tyler Cowen — who has written extensively about the economics of restaurants — said, "I would be surprised if the slowdown in Mexican immigration isn’t responsible for more of the problem than many people realize. This sector is, as anyone in it will tell you, kept afloat by immigrants, especially Latinos.”

In fact, chefs and restaurateurs are starting to freak out because the number of Mexican immigrants has leveled off over the years leaving a lot of open positions in kitchens all over the country. Apparently, long hours and low pay don't appeal to aspiring chefs like it used to, according to a piece in The Washington Post

However you feel about the future of undocumented immigrants in the country, it's impossible to deny the contribution they make to the country.