A 17-year-old battling cancer is planning a food road trip across the country, inspired by Anthony Bourdain.
Ali Allouche was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma when he was four years old. After chemo and radiation, he was deemed cancer-free the next year. But in July of this year, just before his 17th birthday, doctors diagnosed Allouche with osteosarcoma, a bone cancer, in his right shoulder blade. They believe that the cancer is most likely a result of the radiation he received 13 years prior.
In the hospital before and after surgery, Allouche would watch episodes of Anthony Bourdain’s "Parts Unknown," which triggered the idea for a culinary trip of his own.
“He travels the world and he experiences different foods and different cultures and learns about people,” Allouche told NowThis. “And I was like, ‘Why don’t we do that? Why can’t we do that?”
Allouche and his mom, Jennifer Danko, have been planning a coast-to-coast food itinerary for the past month. They hope to stop at restaurants that showcase the best of a particular region’s food scene — like Gino’s deep dish pizza in Chicago, Grand Central Market in Los Angeles, and Union Oyster House in Boston.
Because of Allouche’s treatment schedule, he and his mom will visit the restaurants in small clusters, as opposed to one long road trip.
The trip started earlier this week with a visit to The Inn at Little Washington in Washington, Virginia. Over the course of the three-hour meal, Allouche and Danko sampled dishes like bison tartare, caramelized catalan custard with foie gras and port-soaked raisins, and pan-roasted pekin duck breast with braised cipollini onions and essence of orange.
“My taste buds have never been so delightfully confused in my life,” Allouche said of the meal.
Allouche’s road trip has earned the attention of chefs around the world via a GoFundMe page. Chefs have reached out to Allouche and offered him the opportunity to visit their restaurants while he is traveling.
The Ali b[EATS] Cancer fundraiser has so far raised $30,000 of its $35,000 goal.
If Allouche completes his American itinerary, he hopes to extend the trip somewhere abroad. Much like his inspiration, Anthony Bourdain, Allouche has his eye on the food of Tokyo.