Anthony Bourdain has died at age 61, reported by CNN. The celebrated chef was found dead in France, where he was filming his Emmy Award-winning CNN series Parts Unknown. He was found by close friend and chef Eric Ripert in a hotel room and CNN has confirmed that the cause of death was suicide.
"It is with extraordinary sadness we can confirm the death of our friend and colleague, Anthony Bourdain," CNN said in a statement on Friday 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."
"Tony was an exceptional talent," CNN President Jeff Zucker said in an email to employees, as reported by CNN. "Tony will be greatly missed not only for his work but also for the passion with which he did it."
Bourdain's career as a gifted storyteller, with his trademark black humour and acerbic wit, began with the debut of his memoir Kitchen Confidential in 2000 — a fast, frantic, raw account of his time in the kitchen; a classically-trained chef spilling all of life behind the pans. It skyrocketed to the New York Times bestseller list.
"Don't be a snob. It's something I will always at least aspire to — something that has allowed me to travel this world and eat all it has to offer without fear or prejudice."
Since that jaded, sucker punch memoir, Bourdain traded life behind the pass to a life in front of the camera, travelling across the globe, following all roads and journeying to all kingdoms, to steamy kitchens, to dirty gutters, to tell the stories of that place and its people through the lens of food. He opened our eyes wide to the world through his zero-BS lens.
An adventurer to the last atom, he is well-known and well-loved for his pithy one-liners: "Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life — and travel — leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks — on your body or on your heart — are beautiful. Often though, they hurt."
"Life — and travel — leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks — on your body or on your heart — are beautiful. Often though, they hurt."
In a 2012 essay for Bon Appétit magazine, Bourdain shared the life lessons his father infused in him (and who set him on his path to be the no-holds-barred journeyman we came to love): "He taught me early that the value of a dish is the pleasure it brings you; where you are sitting when you eat it — and who you are eating it with — are what really matter. Perhaps the most important life lesson he passed on was: Don't be a snob. It's something I will always at least aspire to — something that has allowed me to travel this world and eat all it has to offer without fear or prejudice. To experience joy, my father taught me, one has to leave oneself open to it."
The lives Bourdain touched extended beyond those of food enthusiasts and travellers. He was a champion for social, cultural and political change, and a fearless supporter of the #MeToo movement, standing strong by his girlfriend, actor Asia Argento, 42, one of the dozens of women who have accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault.
As the #MeToo movement gained momentum, Bourdain reflected on how his actions and writings may have contributed to a male-dominated system, reevaluating the messaging behind his memoir that kickstarted his career, Kitchen Confidential. In a Slate article last year, Bourdain asked: "To what extent in that book did I provide validation to meatheads?"
He will be remembered for this look-you-in-the-eye accountability, which transcended beyond the plate.
No stranger to hearty dishes, Bourdain's last meal on earth, as published in My Last Supper (Bloomsbury, 2007), would have been "roast bone marrow with parsley and caper salad with a few toasted slices of baguette and some good sea salt" in "the dining room of St. John in London - after hours". And who would prepare the meal? "Naturally, I'd prefer that it be prepared and served by the creator of my favourite version: Fergus Henderson, chef and partner at St. John. And in a perfect world, my pals Eric Ripert, Mario Batali, and Gordon Ramsay would be around to assist."
His close friends, and fans from all over the world have expressed their sadness at his passing.
Chef Eric Ripert said Bourdain was his best friend:
Former US president Barack Obama tweeted that Bourdain taught us to be a little less afraid of the unknown:
Chef Gordan Ramsay paid tribute:
Jamie Oliver named Bourdain as a mould-breaker:
Chef Andrew Zimmern of Food Network's Bizarre Foods pulled on a pair of Bourdain's boots in memory of him:
And his girlfriend, Asia Argento, in a moving announcement has asked for fans to respect his family's privacy and hers during this grieving period:
His close friends at Roads & Kingdoms, whom Bourdain was Editor-at-large and the sole investor, drove home the importance of Bourdain and what he stood for: "Now more than ever, the world needs the message that was at the heart of Bourdain’s work: we have nothing to fear from one another, that we are all connected by our love for food, drink, conversation, and our hope to live in peace and happiness."
Here at SBS Food HQ, we are grateful for Bourdain's contribution in bringing the world into sharper focus, one dumpling and biryani at at time.
"Things got broken. Things got lost. But I wouldn't have missed it for the world." ~ Anthony Bourdain, Kitchen Confidential (Bloomsbury, 2000).
Watch Bourdain's charisma and rapscallion charm in No Reservations, now streaming via SBS On Demand: