CNN has confirmed that celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, star of the network’s travel and food show Parts Unknown, has died. He was 61. His friend and collaborator Eric Ripert, a French chef, found Bourdain unresponsive in his hotel room in Strasbourg, France.
“It is with extraordinary sadness we can confirm the death of our friend and colleague, Anthony Bourdain,” the network said in a statement this morning. “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 was in France working on an upcoming episode of Parts Unknown, an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning program that Bourdain had starred in for the past five years. The chef, who got his start running various kitchens in New York, including the Supper Club, One Fifth Avenue, and Sullivan's, graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1978.
The author of several books, including Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food, and People Who Cook, Bourdain wrote extensively about his past struggles with substance abuse.
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In Kitchen Confidential, he wrote about abusing drugs early on in his career, "We were high all the time, sneaking off to the walk-in refrigerator at every opportunity to "conceptualize." Hardly a decision was made without drugs. Cannabis, methaqualone, cocaine, LSD, psilocybin mushrooms soaked in honey and used to sweeten tea, secobarbital, tuinal, amphetamine, codeine and, increasingly, heroin, which we'd send a Spanish-speaking busboy over to Alphabet City to get."
Known for being direct and honest, Bourdain didn’t mince words when it came to commenting on food, fellow chefs, or political issues. Last year, Bourdain began speaking out against sexual harassment in restaurants and Hollywood after his girlfriend, Italian actress Asia Argento, stated that she had been sexually assaulted by Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein in the 1990s. Last month in France, Argento spoke about being raped by Weinstein when she was 21 at the Cannes Film Festival.
Prior to Parts Unknown, Bourdain starred in A Cook's Tour on the Food Network from 2002 to 2003. He then premiered a similar series, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, on the Travel Channel in 2005. In 2012, Bourdain left the Travel Channel for CNN to star in Parts Unknown. The program, which featured President Barack Obama eating with Bourdain in Vietnam, went on to win five Emmys.
In 2013, while accepting his Peabody Award, Bourdain explained his approach to food and travel, “We ask very simple questions: What makes you happy? What do you eat? What do you like to cook? And everywhere in the world we go and ask these very simple questions, and we tend to get some really astonishing answers.”
Prior to dating Argento, Bourdain was married to Nancy Putkoski, his high school sweetheart. The couple divorced in 2005. Two years later, he married Ottavia Busia with whom he has a daughter, Ariane, born in 2007. The pair divorced amicably in 2016. Bourdain stated that being away from his wife and child for about 250 days a year took its toll on the marriage.
Among those that have expressed their grief online are Chrissy Teigen, “Anthony. One of my idols. Unapologetic, passionate and one of the best storytellers on the planet. Thank you for making food so exciting. And always standing up for everything right. Horrible. Why why why. Be at peace now,” she tweeted.
Also, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver wrote on Instagram, “I have to say I’m in total shock to hear that the amazing @anthonybourdain has just died. He really broke the mould, pushed the culinary conversation and was the most brilliant writer....he leaves chefs and fans around the world with a massive foodie hole that simply can’t be replaced.....rest in peace chef. Thoughts and love to all his family and close friends.”