The “original rock star of the culinary world” was a celebrated writer and chef who had conquered heroin addiction and became world famous in his forties.
Beloved chef and world-renowned television personality Anthony Bourdain was found dead Friday morning in his hotel in France. He was 61.
CNNconfirmed that the TV host died by suicide. He was in France working on an upcoming episode for his long-running food and travel show, Parts Unknown. Bourdain is survived by his 11-year-old daughter, ex-wife Ottavia Busia and girlfriend Asia Argento.
Coined the “original rock star of the culinary world” by the Smithsonian, Bourdain made a name for himself with the publication of a New Yorker article — Don’t Eat Before Reading This—where the chef spilled some “trade secrets” about his time spent in professional kitchens and the cast of characters he encountered.
With book editors intrigued, Bourdain would soon write his literary opus, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly. The NewYork Times bestseller gave outsiders a no holds barred look into the raucous world of cuisine. Infused with Bourdain’s trademark no-nonsense personality, readers were introduced to the chef who was caught up in the frenzied world of sex, drugs, and dinner service.
Bourdain’s celebrity exploded shortly after the release of Kitchen Confidential.
Bourdain detailed in a 2016 Biography interview how the memoir changed his life smack dab in the middle of his forties: “Oh, man, 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 would go on to become one of the most popular celebrity chefs of this generation with a string of food and travel shows such as A Cook’s Tour, No Reservations, The Layover and Parts Unknown.
Bourdain was also open about his battles with addiction. He began using drugs during the early portion of his restaurant career and eventually became an avid heroin user.
He told Biography, “I got off of heroin in the 1980s. Friends of mine from the ‘70s and ‘80s, they just got off five, six, maybe 10 years ago. And we’re the lucky ones. We made it out alive. There are a lot of guys that didn’t get that far. But you know, I also don’t have that many regrets either.”
Celebrities, politicians, cooking peers and fans took to Twitter to remember the beloved chef. Former President Barack Obama tweeted, “‘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.”
Gordon Ramsay tweeted, “Stunned and saddened by the loss of Anthony Bourdain. He brought the world into our homes and inspired so many people to explore cultures and cities through their food. Remember that help is a phone call away US:1-800-273-TALK UK: 116 123”
Chef Eric Ripert, Bourdain’s best friend, paid tribute on Twitter, “Anthony was my best friend. An exceptional human being, so inspiring & generous. One of the great storytellers who connected w so many. I pray he is at peace from the bottom of my heart. My love & prayers are also w his family, friends and loved ones.”