UPDATE | CNN’s Anthony Bourdain dead at 61
PARIS (AP) — Anthony Bourdain, the celebrity chef and citizen of the world who inspired millions to share his delight in food and the bonds it created, was found dead in his hotel room Friday in France while working on his CNN series on culinary traditions. He was 61.
CNN confirmed the death, saying that Bourdain was found unresponsive Friday morning by friend and chef Eric Ripert in the French city of Haut-Rhin. It called his death a suicide. Bourdain’s assistant Laurie Woolever would not comment when reached by The Associated Press.
Widely loved and rarely afraid to speak his mind, he mixed a coarseness and whimsical sense of adventurousness, true to the rock ‘n’ roll music he loved. Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown” seemed like an odd choice for CNN when it started in 2013 — part travelogue, part history lesson, part love letter to exotic foods. Each trip was an adventure. There had been nothing quite like it on the staid news network, and it became an immediate hit.
Within hours of his death, “Kitchen Confidential” was in the top 20 on Amazon.com.
“We are constantly asking ourselves, first and foremost, what is the most (messed) up thing we can do next week?” he said in a 2014 interview with the AP.
Bourdain’s breakthrough as an author came with the 2000 publication of his “Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly.” The book created a sensation by combining frank details of his life and career with behind-the-scenes observations on the culinary industry.
Colleagues, friends and admirers shared their grief Friday. CNN chief executive Jeff Zucker sent a company letter calling Bourdain “an exceptional talent. A storyteller. A gifted writer. A world traveler. An adventurer.”
As president, Barack Obama sat down for some bun cha in Hanoi, Vietnam, with Bourdain in an episode of “Parts Unknown” in 2016. On Friday, he shared a photo of the interaction on Twitter: “’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.”
As he left the White House for the G-7 summit in Quebec, President Donald Trump, whom Bourdain had sharply criticized, offered his “heartfelt condolences” to Bourdain’s family, which includes his 11-year-old daughter, Ariane. Jamie Oliver wrote on Instagram that Bourdain “really broke the mould ... he leaves chefs and fans around the world with a massive foodie hole that simply can’t be replaced.”
Others noted Bourdain’s strong defense of the (hash)MeToo movement. His girlfriend was actress Asia Argento, who has accused Harvey Weinstein of rape. After Mario Batali was accused of sexual assault, Bourdain published an essay in Medium in which he wrote that “one must pick a side.”
“I stand unhesitatingly and unwaveringly with the women,” he wrote.