Remembering the life of Anthony Bourdain

Anthony Bourdain, the chef and gifted storyteller who took TV viewers around the world to explore culture, cuisine and the human condition for nearly two decades, has died at the age of 61. CNN's Alex Marquardt reports.

Posted: Jun 9, 2018 4:44 PM
Updated: Jun 9, 2018 4:56 PM

In death, as in life, Anthony Bourdain brought us closer together.

On his award-winning series, "Parts Unknown," Bourdain brought the world home to CNN viewers. Through the simple act of sharing meals, he showcased both the extraordinary diversity of cultures and cuisines, yet how much we all have in common.

Tragically, he proved this again on Friday. Bourdain's death shook television viewers around the world. The most common sentiment: "I feel like I've lost a friend."

Bourdain was a larger-than-life figure -- a gifted chef and storyteller who used his books and shows to explore culture, cuisine and the human condition.

"Tony was a symphony," his friend and fellow chef Andrew Zimmern said Friday.

The news of Bourdain's death was met by profound sadness within CNN, where "Parts Unknown" has aired for the past five years. In an email to employees, the network's president, Jeff Zucker, remembered him as an "exceptional talent."

"Tony will be greatly missed not only for his work but also for the passion with which he did it," Zucker wrote.

CNN said Bourdain was in France working on an upcoming episode of his award-winning CNN series, "Parts Unknown." His close friend Eric Ripert, the French chef, found Bourdain unresponsive in his hotel room Friday morning. He was 61 and took his own life.

"Anthony was my best friend," Ripert tweeted. "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 and prayers are also w his family, friends and loved ones."

Viewers felt connected to Bourdain through his fearless travels, his restless spirit and his magical way with words.

"His talents never ceased to amaze us and we will miss him very much," CNN said in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his daughter and family at this incredibly difficult time."

CNN's chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, called Bourdain a "giant talent."

"My heart breaks for Tony Bourdain," she wrote on Twitter. "May he rest in peace now."

President Donald Trump extended his condolences to Bourdain's family on Friday morning. "I enjoyed his show," Trump said. "He was quite a character."

Former President Barack Obama recalled a meal he shared with Bourdain in Vietnam while Obama was on a trip through Asia in 2016 -- an encounter captured in a "Parts Unknown" episode that year.

"'Low plastic stool, cheap but delicious noodles, cold Hanoi beer.' This is how I'll remember Tony," Obama posted to Twitter on Friday. "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."

For the past year, Bourdain had been dating Italian actress Asia Argento. She remembered Bourdain as someone who "gave all of himself in everything that he did."

Last year, he advocated for Argento as she went public with accusations against disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein. "He was my love, my rock, my protector. I am beyond devastated."

After #MeToo, Anthony Bourdain stood 'unhesitatingly and unwaveringly' with women

Bourdain's death came days after fashion designer Kate Spade died in a suicide at her Manhattan apartment.

Suicide is a growing problem in the United States. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a survey Thursday showing suicide rates increased by 25% across the country over nearly two decades ending in 2016. Twenty-five states experienced a rise in suicides by more than 30%, the government report finds.

'The Elvis of bad boy chefs'

Bourdain was a master of his crafts -- first in the kitchen and then in the media. Through his TV shows and books, he helped audiences think differently about food, travel and themselves. He advocated for marginalized populations and campaigned for safer working conditions for restaurant staffs.

Anthony Bourdain shone a different light on the Middle East | Was a voice for the underdog

Along the way, he received practically every award the industry has to offer.

In 2013, Peabody Award judges honored Bourdain and "Parts Unknown" for "expanding our palates and horizons in equal measure."

"He's irreverent, honest, curious, never condescending, never obsequious," the judges said. "People open up to him and, in doing so, often reveal more about their hometowns or homelands than a traditional reporter could hope to document."

The Smithsonian once called him "the original rock star" of the culinary world, "the Elvis of bad boy chefs." His shows took him to more than 100 countries and three networks.

While accepting the Peabody award in 2013, Bourdain described how he approached his work.

Explore "Parts Unknown": Everywhere he traveled

"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," he said. "We tend to get some really astonishing answers."

Friends and acquaintances remembered Bourdain's curiosity for the world's variety of cultures and cuisine rubbing off on them.

His good friend Michael Ruhlman said he was stunned by news of the suicide.

"The last I knew, he was in love. He was happy," Ruhlman told CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360." "He said, 'Love abounds' -- some of the last words he said to me."

Ruhlman said Bourdain was much more sensitive than people realized, but that sensitivity coupled with Bourdain's bravado made him a great storyteller.

Ruhlman and chef James Syhabout both said that when people found out they knew Bourdain, they would ask what he really was like.

Exactly like he was on camera, they said.

"And that's the beauty of him," Syhabout told CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront." "He's unapologetically honest. ... It all gives us courage to be ourselves and be individuals and that's what really radiates from him."

Chef and writer Edward Lee, who hosted a season of a show produced by Bourdain, looked back at their time working together and wrote that "Tony gave us a world that we didn't know we needed."

Others who fondly recalled their interactions with Bourdain included chef Gordon Ramsay, who said Bourdain "brought the world into our homes and inspired so many people to explore cultures and cities through their food."

From 'happy dishwasher' to addiction to fame

Bourdain grew up in Leonia, New Jersey, and started working in kitchens in his teens -- including on Massachusetts' Cape Cod during the summer.

"I was a happy dishwasher," he said in a 2016 interview on NPR's "Fresh Air." "I jokingly say that I learned every important lesson, all the most important lessons of my life, as a dishwasher."

It was during those early jobs, he said, that he began using drugs, eventually developing a heroin addiction and other problems that he later said should have killed him in his 20s. He often talked of his addiction later in life.

"Somebody who wakes up in the morning and their first order of business is (to) get heroin -- I know what that's like," Bourdain said in a 2014 "Parts Unknown" episode highlighting an opioid crisis in Massachusetts.

After spending two years at New York's Vassar College, he dropped out and enrolled in culinary school. He spent years as a line cook and sous chef at restaurants in the Northeast before becoming executive chef at Manhattan's Brasserie Les Halles.

A different passion -- his writing -- helped put him on the map by his early 40s.

Inside Anthony Bourdain's globe-trotting career

He published two suspense novels before drawing widespread public attention with his 1999 New Yorker article, "Don't Eat Before Reading This." The article was about the secrets of kitchen life and shady characters he encountered along the way.

"In America, the professional kitchen is the last refuge of the misfit. It's a place for people with bad pasts to find a new family," he wrote.

The article morphed into a best-selling book in 2000, "Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly," which was translated into more than two dozen languages.

"When the book came out, it very quickly transformed my life -- I mean, changed everything," he told NPR.

Bourdain found himself on a path to international stardom. First, he hosted "A Cook's Tour" on the Food Network, then moved to the Travel Channel with "Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations," a breakout hit that earned two Emmy Awards and more than a dozen nominations.

Opinion: Anthony Bourdain saw the humanity in all of us

In 2013, both Bourdain and CNN took a risk by bringing him to a network still best known for breaking news and headlines. Bourdain quickly became one of its principal faces and a linchpin of its prime-time schedule.

Season 11 of "Parts Unknown" premiered last month on CNN, with destinations including Uruguay, Armenia and West Virginia. The series has been honored with five Emmys.

In his final weeks, Bourdain said he was especially looking forward to an episode about Hong Kong, which aired Sunday.

He called it a "dream show" in which he linked up with longtime Hong Kong resident and cinematographer Christopher Doyle.

"The idea was just to interview him and maybe get him to hold a camera. He ended up being director of photography for the entire episode," Bourdain told CNN in April. "For me it was like asking Joe DiMaggio to, you know, sign my baseball and instead he joined my Little League team for the whole season."

He helped a kid fighting leukemia make his culinary dream trip

The show's website on Friday posted an homage to Bourdain featuring one of his many oft-repeated quotations -- one that seemed to embody his philosophy: "If I'm an advocate for anything, it's to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. Walk in someone else's shoes or at least eat their food."

--

How to get help: In the US, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. The International Association for Suicide Prevention and Befrienders Worldwide also can provide contact information for crisis centers around the world.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 75862

Reported Deaths: 3069
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion16088730
Lake7688278
Elkhart492685
Allen4002163
St. Joseph357883
Hamilton2829104
Vanderburgh202213
Hendricks1927108
Cass18029
Johnson1789119
Porter135539
Clark128749
Tippecanoe123811
Madison100665
LaPorte93130
Howard91365
Kosciusko86812
Bartholomew81747
Floyd80948
Marshall79323
Monroe76631
Delaware74552
Dubois70812
Vigo69911
Noble68829
Boone68746
Hancock68339
Jackson5965
Warrick58830
Shelby56527
LaGrange56310
Grant52930
Dearborn51228
Morgan49334
Clinton4444
Henry40620
Wayne38510
White37611
Montgomery35921
Lawrence35227
Harrison34823
Decatur34132
Putnam3128
Daviess27720
Miami2772
Scott27210
Jasper2552
Greene25434
Franklin24615
DeKalb2384
Gibson2314
Jennings22712
Steuben2133
Ripley2138
Carroll1962
Fayette1947
Perry18713
Posey1790
Starke1787
Wells1742
Orange17424
Fulton1722
Wabash1703
Jefferson1672
Knox1610
Whitley1556
Tipton14312
Washington1421
Sullivan1381
Spencer1373
Clay1245
Huntington1243
Randolph1244
Newton12010
Adams1092
Owen991
Jay920
Rush854
Pulaski811
Fountain742
Brown741
Blackford652
Ohio656
Benton640
Pike590
Vermillion580
Switzerland530
Parke511
Martin480
Crawford450
Union410
Warren241
Unassigned0206

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 102826

Reported Deaths: 3708
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin18697529
Cuyahoga13734505
Hamilton9766257
Lucas5448326
Montgomery443896
Summit3614223
Butler297663
Marion293545
Mahoning2595255
Pickaway239142
Stark1884140
Warren182139
Lorain181377
Columbiana167160
Trumbull1549108
Fairfield141632
Delaware134419
Licking131951
Clark117815
Lake113141
Wood106858
Clermont95311
Medina94535
Miami85839
Tuscarawas79314
Portage77163
Allen76946
Greene71812
Mercer63113
Belmont62326
Richland61412
Erie59728
Ashtabula57646
Geauga55944
Wayne54558
Ross4944
Darke40629
Huron4045
Madison40110
Ottawa39626
Sandusky39017
Hancock3893
Athens3602
Holmes3286
Lawrence3000
Auglaize2636
Union2601
Muskingum2431
Scioto2421
Jefferson2373
Seneca2283
Knox2127
Putnam21117
Shelby2104
Washington20922
Preble2072
Coshocton1967
Champaign1812
Morrow1762
Crawford1755
Hardin17012
Clinton1696
Highland1661
Logan1602
Ashland1543
Fulton1531
Wyandot1509
Defiance1504
Brown1462
Perry1403
Williams1363
Henry1222
Fayette1210
Guernsey1197
Hocking1189
Carroll1135
Monroe9418
Pike790
Jackson760
Van Wert732
Paulding700
Gallia701
Adams612
Meigs540
Vinton322
Morgan300
Harrison261
Noble160
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
66° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 66°
Angola
Clear
59° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 59°
Huntington
Few Clouds
64° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 64°
Decatur
63° wxIcon
Hi: 82° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 63°
Van Wert
63° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 55°
Feels Like: 63°
Mostly Sunny Thursday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events