Russell Crowe helps rescue blast-hit Beirut eatery

Hollywood star Russell Crowe. (AFP pic)

BEIRUT: Hollywood star Russell Crowe said Thursday that he donated funds to help rebuild a blast-hit Beirut restaurant on behalf of late food icon Anthony Bourdain, who loved its traditional dishes.

The decades-old Le Chef restaurant, located in the heart of a trendy Beirut district, is a beloved neighbourhood place renowned for its home-style cooking.

It was blown to pieces by the August 4 explosion that killed 171 people, wounded at least 6,500 and ravaged swathes of Beirut.

The Oscar-winning Crowe, best known for his role in the 2000 action film Gladiator, said on Twitter that he made the donation “on behalf of Anthony Bourdain”.

“I thought that he would have probably done so if he was still around,” Crowe said of the celebrity chef and travel journalist who committed suicide in 2018.

“Hope things can be put back together soon.”

Crowe’s $5,000 donation was made on a GoFundMe page set up by fans of Le Chef, a restaurant popular with tourists as well as locals in the Gemmayzeh neighbourhood that was among the hardest-hit by the explosion.

The online fundraiser raised nearly $11,000 in less than 24 hours, just $2,000 short of its target.

Le Chef is where Bourdain had his first meal when he and his crew were trapped in Lebanon for a week in 2006 because of a month-long war with Israel.

It is featured in the highly-praised Lebanon episode of his ‘No Reservations’ series.

“Really good food, very traditional,” Bourdain says of the restaurant in the show, calling it a “nice mix” of old and new.

It’s a “good first meal in Beirut.”