Chef, author, and travel show host Anthony Bourdain died on Friday, June 8.
Bourdain was the host of Parts Unknown, a CNN travel-food show, a former chef, a cookbook author, and widely known personality. According to CNN, Bourdain had been in Kaysersberg-Vignoble in Strasbourg France working on an episode of Parts Unknown when his friend, fellow chef, and co-traveler Eric Ripart found him “unresponsive in his hotel room.” CNN has reported that the cause of death was suicide.
CNN released a statement this morning:
It is with extraordinary sadness we can confirm the death of our friend and colleague, Anthony Bourdain. 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.
A spokesperson for the United States Embassy in Paris also confirmed his death. “We can confirm the death of Anthony Bourdain in the Haut-Rhin department of France,” the Embassy said. “We extend our sincere condolences to friends and family. We stand ready to provide appropriate consular services. Out of respect for the family, we have no further comment.”
Bourdain first discovered his love of food while on a family vacation in France, one of the few places his family traveled. His paternal grandparents were French, and Bourdain’s father grew up speaking French and spending his summers there. Though Bourdain says his father never seemed very French, Bourdain’s time in France with his family deeply influenced him.
Bourdain first rose to fame in 2000 thanks to his book “Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly,” a tell-all memoir about being a chef. At the time he was working at Les Halles, a brasserie on Park Avenue South in New York. His willingness to talk about the behind-the-scenes of kitchens (like in this unsolicited article he sent to the New Yorker in 1999) was unrivaled. He was among the first chefs to speak so openly about life in the kitchen, exposing a culture of drugs, drinking, and abuse, yet standing by it as a badge of honor.
The no-nonsense, bad-boy personality guided his life. Seeking adventure, his Parts Unknown show took him around the world trying different foods sometimes with celebrities, including former president Barack Obama in fall 2016. In a 2017 interview, he recalled his original pitch for his TV series as “I travel around the world, eat a lot of sh*t, and basically do whatever the f**k I want.” But things weren’t always easy. Bourdain previously struggled with an addiction to cocaine in the 1980s and had a penchant for alcohol.
Besides speaking out about toxic kitchen culture, Bourdain spoke out on sexual abuse and harassment. He refused to stand by fellow chef Mario Batali, who was accused of unwanted sexual attention and harassment by multiple women, when Batali was considering attempting a comeback in the culinary world. “Retire and count yourself lucky,” said Bourdain. When Bourdain’s girlfriend Asia Argento, 42, revealed in the New Yorker that movie producer and repeat sexual harasser Harvey Weinstein raped her at age 21, Bourdain was supportive of her. After Argento said at this year’s Cannes festival on stage that Weinstein had raped her at the film festival, Bourdain told IndieWire, “I was so proud of her. It was absolutely fearless to walk right into the lion’s den and say what she said, the way she said it. … I am honored to know someone who has the strength and fearlessness to do something like that.”
Bourdain is survived by a daughter, Ariane, age 11, whom he had with Ottavia Busia (m. 2007 – d. 2016). Bourdain has dating Ms. Argento since early 2017.
[If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK), or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741. You can also go to SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for a list of additional resources.]