Anthony Bourdain, the American celebrity chef, author and TV star, has died aged 61 while working in France on a new series of his award-winning travel and food show Parts Unknown.
CNN, which aired his programs, said that he was found unresponsive in his hotel room on Friday morning local time by his close friend Eric Ripert, another renowned chef. Bourdain had committed suicide.
“It is with extraordinary sadness we can confirm the death of our friend and colleague, Anthony Bourdain,” CNN said in a statement. “His love of great adventure, new friends, fine food and drink and the remarkable stories of the world made him a unique storyteller.
“His talents never ceased to amaze us and we will miss him very much. Our thoughts and prayers are with his daughter and family at this incredibly difficult time.”
Bourdain came to fame in 2000 with his best-selling book Kitchen Confidential, which revealed the dark, and often darkly funny, life behind the scenes of restaurants, and won acclaim for his television programs that saw him travel the world for unusual food adventures, first in A Cook’s Tour, then No Reservations, The Layover and finally Parts Unknown. He also went on to write several more books, including cookbooks, a mystery novel and collections of essays on food and travel.
His writing and television work won plaudits around the world, including Emmy Awards, as fans lapped up his frequently sarcastic, profane and funny style, which saw him willing to try any local ‘delicacy’ – he sometimes described the unwashed warthog anus that he ate in Namibia as the worst meal of his life.
Asked if he’d ever refused any meal, however, he spoke of his ‘grandma rule’.
“Never,” he answered. “I think it’s my duty as a guest to always accept when my host is offering a good thing. When people are expressing themselves by what they offer, I feel it’s my duty to if necessary take one for the team. It’s what I call a ‘grandma rule’ – I may not like grandma’s turkey, but I’m in grandma’s house, I’m gonna eat it. And I’m gonna smile and say I like it. I think that’s just good manners.”
Part of his appeal was his very down-to-earth manner, that caused him to note that every important lesson he learned in life was learned as a restaurant dishwasher, which he started as as a teenager.
But Bourdain frequently spoke about his troubled personal life, which included long periods of heroin addiction, and was a committed drinker and smoker until relatively late in life. He was married twice and was the partner of actress Asia Argento at the time of his death. He leaves one daughter.
His famous friends publicly grieved the talented chef and writer, with Ripert, who called Bourdain his best friend, calling him “an exceptional human being, so inspiring and generous”. Argento said that “he gave all of himself in everything that he did … He was my love, my rock, my protector. I am beyond devastated”.
Fellow chef Gordon Ramsay said he was “stunned and saddened” by the loss of Bourdain, while Jamie Oliver said he was “in total shock” over the amazing chef’s death. Andrew Zimmern, whose Bizarre Foods shows rivalled Bourdain’s for weird culinary adventures, said “the sad cruel irony is that the last year he’d never been happier”, while another high-profile TV food critic, Adam Richman, best known for his epic eating in Man V Food, said, “I’ll always love you, pal”.
Buddy Valastro, whose own show, Cake Boss, is a long-time ratings winner, said he was “gutted” to learn of Bourdain’s death. Even former US president Barack Obama, who dined with Bourdain for an episode of Parts Unknown, paid tribute to Bourdain, who was known as Tony to friends.
“Low plastic stool, cheap but delicious noodles, cold Hanoi beer.” This is how I’ll remember Tony. He taught us about food — but more importantly, about its ability to bring us together. To make us a little less afraid of the unknown. We’ll miss him. pic.twitter.com/orEXIaEMZM
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) June 8, 2018
Bourdain is the second high-profile person to take their own life in just the past few days, with the fashion world mourning the loss of Kate Spade, the well-known designer, who committed suicide this week.
If you’re depressed or need someone to talk to, there are many 27/4 support lines available, including Lifeline on 13 11 14, the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467, MensLineAustralia on 1300 789 978 and Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636.