Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, who explored the globe’s out-of-the-mainstream foods for CNN viewers, has died at the age of 61, CNN announced Friday. Bourdain reportedly took his own life.
“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,” the statement said.
Bourdain was in France for an upcoming episode of his show, “Parts Unknown.” CNN announced that Bourdain was found unresponsive in his hotel room by French chef Eric Ripert.
Bourdain’s rise to fame began in 1999, according to Page Six. That year, he wrote an article titled “Don’t Eat Before Reading This,” which was published by The New Yorker. That laid the foundation for “Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly,” a 2000 best-seller that made him an international celebrity.
Prior to joining CNN, Bourdain hosted shows on the Food Network and Travel Channel.
“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, we tend to get some really astonishing answers,” Bourdain said of his work.
Bourdain meditated upon the fame that came to him in a 2002 interview with The Washington Post.
“No one’s more confused by the celebrity chef thing than chefs. The idea that chefs are sex symbols would be hilarious to anyone who’s ever dated one or been married to one,” he said at the time.
“We smell of smoked salmon and garlic, we have beef fat under our fingernails, we stay out late, drink too much, are never home and when we are home are comotose (sic), distracted and unpleasant. Is that sexy?” he said in an online chat.
Bourdain noted that fame brought changes to the out-of-the-way places he would visit for his CNN show, according to comments he made in 2017 to NPR.
“If I name the place…I’ve changed it,” Bourdain said then. “The next time I go back, there’s tourists. There’s people who’ve seen it on the show. And then I might hear from the same person from that neighborhood say, you ruined my favorite bar, you know? All the regular customers have run away and it’s filled with, you know, tourists in ugly T-shirts and flip-flops.”
During that interview, Bourdain recalled part of one trip to Vietnam.
“I got just hammered drunk and had this sort of wonderful bonding experience. I remember this, like, 85-year-old former Viet Cong, I asked him, aren’t you angry about anything? And he looked and with amiable contempt, said, look, buddy, Vietnam, don’t take yourself so seriously. Before you, there were, you know, the French, the Japanese, you know, the Chinese, the Cambodians. Since you there’s been — you know, I’ve been fighting — this country’s been fighting for 600 years. Don’t take it personally, now drink,” he said then.
As noted by NBC in its obituary of Bourdain, he had one favorite city above all others.
“If I had to eat only in one city for the rest of my life, Tokyo would be it,” he said. “Most chefs I know would agree with me. For those with restless, curious minds, fascinated by layer upon layer of things, flavors, tastes and customs which we will never fully be able to understand, Tokyo is deliciously unknowable.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.