The mother of celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain has spoken of her shock at her son’s suicide, saying he was “absolutely the last person in the world I would have ever dreamed out do something like this”.
Gladys Bourdain was left reeling alongside the chef, writer and TV presenter’s many fans and high-profile friends after news emerged of his death in France on Friday at the age of just 61. Bourdain had been found in his hotel room, where he was staying while filming the new series of his CNN series Parts Unknown, by his close friend, fellow chef Eric Ripert.
Mrs Bourdain, who was the New York Times’ books editor for many years, told the newspaper that Ripert had told her that “Tony had been in a dark mood these past couple of days” as the pair stayed in Kaysersberg, a village the Alsace region of north-eastern France. But there was no indication that Bourdain would attempt to take his own life, his mother said.
“He is absolutely the last person in the world I would have ever dreamed would do something like this,” Mrs Bourdain told the New York Times. “He had everything … Success beyond his wildest dreams. Money beyond his wildest dreams.”
Bourdain himself had often spoken of what he considered his unusual good fortune in finding his niche later in life. After spending more than 20 years working as a chef, during which period he battled a number of addictions, he became a best-selling author in his 40s, made the transition to television travel and food presenter after then, before becoming a father in his 50s and had only in recent years met the woman he considered his soul mate, the actress Asia Argento.
In 2016, he recounted how tenuous he still felt his situation to be. “At the age of 44, I was standing in kitchens, not knowing what it was like to go to sleep without being in mortal terror. I was in horrible, endless, irrevocable debt. I had no health insurance. I didn’t pay my taxes. I couldn’t pay my rent. It was a nightmare, but it’s all been different for about 15 years. If it looks like my life is comfortable, well, that’s a very new thing for me,” he told Biography.com.
“But I’m still here — on my third life, or maybe fourth. Who knows? I should’ve died in my 20s. I became successful in my 40s. I became a dad in my 50s. I feel like I’ve stolen a car – a really nice car – and I keep looking in the rearview mirror for flashing lights. But there’s been nothing yet.”
A French prosecutor said at the weekend that there was no evidence of foul play having led to Bourdain’s death, The Sun reported, but nor did there appear to be much planning in the chef’s suicide. Toxicology tests are still being carried out.
Bourdain would have turned 62 on June 25.
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 63