Anthony Bourdain, Celebrated American Chef, Dead at 61 from Apparent Suicide
The host of CNN’s Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown was found in his hotel room in France on Friday morning by close friend and French chef, Eric Ripert, according to CNN.
The host of CNN’s Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown was found unresponsive in his hotel room in France on Friday morning by close friend and French chef, Eric Ripert, according to CNN. Both were filming an upcoming episode of Bourdain’s award-winning show.
“It is with extraordinary sadness we can confirm the death of our friend and colleague, Anthony Bourdain,” the network 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.”
A Strasbourg police spokesperson confirmed Bourdain’s death to PEOPLE, but would not confirm the cause of death. The manner of death has been classified as a suicide.
In a statement provided to PEOPLE, the U.S. Embassy in Paris said, “We can confirm the death of Anthony Bourdain in the Haut-Rhin department of France. We extend our sincere condolences to friends and family. We stand ready to provide appropriate consular service. Out of respect for the family at this difficult time we have no further comment.”
Bourdain was one of the most honest and outspoken voices on the food scene.
Born in New York City and raised in Leonia, New Jersey, he began his career working in seafood restaurants in Provincetown, Massachusetts — which was said to have sparked his decision to pursue a career in cooking.
From there, he studied at the Culinary Institute of America, where he graduated in 1978.
A long career working in restaurant kitchens in New York City would follow, as a dishwasher, prep drone, line cook, and sous-chef. He served as an executive chef for famed Big Apple establishments One Fifth Avenue, Sullivan’s and the Supper Club. By 1998, he was executive chef at Manhattan’s Brasserie Les Halles.
It would be an article for The New Yorker in 1999 that would push Bourdain into his next chapter. Titled Don’t Eat Before Reading This, the piece would pull back the curtain on the culinary world and the wild-but-true tails of sex, drugs, and scandalous behavior happening behind the kitchen’s swinging doors. A best-selling book, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly would follow in 2000, and spark an offer for Bourdain’s first television show.
Titled A Cook’s Tour, it premiered in January 2002 and ran for two seasons on the Food Network, following Bourdain as sampled local cuisine and culture in exotic countries and cities.
It was a formula Bourdain would continue with Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, which ran on the Travel Channel from 2005 through 2012, and Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, which premiered in 2013 on CNN.
His television career would earn him five Emmy Awards, most recently in 2016 for outstanding informational series or special. Bourdain also continued writing, publishing a series of cookbooks and non-fiction titles including No Reservations’ 2010 sequel Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook.
Just last month, PEOPLE profiled Bourdain — spending three days with the host in Lafayette, Louisiana, as he filmed a Cajun-themed episode of Parts Unknown.
There, he told PEOPLE that though he spent roughly 250 days a year on the road, he was not ready to retire to one of the nearly 100 countries he had visited anytime soon. “I gave up on that. I’ve tried. I just think I’m just too nervous, neurotic, driven,” he said. “I would have had a different answer a few years ago. I might have deluded myself into thinking that I’d be happy in a hammock or gardening. But no, I’m quite sure I can’t. I’m going to pretty much die in the saddle.”
In his personal life, Bourdain married his high school girlfriend Nancy Putkoski in 1985, the two divorcing in 2005.
Two years later, he wed mixed martial arts fighter Ottavia Busia. The two divorced in 2016, and share 11-year-old daughter Ariane.
In 2017, he began dating Italian actress Asia Argento, 42, after she appeared on an episode of Parts Unknown filmed in her hometown of Rome.
“I want to spend as much time with her as I can,” Bourdain told PEOPLE.
Asked if her presence has made him softer on and off set, Bourdain admitted, “I’m happier for sure. It’s nice to be with somebody who I see as a peer.”
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).