Anthony Bourdain, Chef And TV Host Who Changed How We Travel, Dead From Suicide At 61
If you love travel, food, and witty people, then chances are, you probably were a fan of Anthony Bourdain.
The chef, writer and host of CNN’s Parts Unknown was found dead in his hotel room in France on Friday. He was there working on an upcoming episode of his hit show at the time and was found by fellow chef, good friend and Parts Unknown recurring guest, Eric Ripert. CNN has confirmed the passing and that the cause of death was suicide. He was 61.
Bourdain started out as a chef, and ran a number of popular kitchens in New York City. But his entrance into the media world, and the fame that would come with it, began with a piece he wrote for the New Yorker in 1999 called “Don’t Eat Before Reading This.” The success of that article turned into his best-selling book, 2000’s Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly. He also wrote A Cook’s Tour about his travels and the foods he encountered while perusing the world, which turned into his first show, A Cook’s Tour on the Food Network, and ran from 2002-2003.
He would go from the Food Network to the Travel Channel for two more popular series, No Reservations (2005-2012) and The Layover (2011-2013). And in 2013, after leaving the Travel Channel, Bourdain took his talents to CNN for Parts Unknown, which not only put the culture and cuisine of often little-traveled countries out into the open, but also took a serious look at the politics and quality of life of such places. He won a Peabody Award for it in 2014, and was even capable of getting President Barack Obama to be a guest when they were both in Vietnam in 2016.
Bourdain’s shows gave people access into places and spaces without the host ever trying to take over, complain, critique, be condescending or demand anything. He just met with people who called the countries and cities home and followed their lead like old friends. Not to play on words, but the fact that he had no reservations about traveling to places all over the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and even slept-on locations here in the United States, gave many other people, including myself, the courage to visit places many might consider to be off the map and sometimes “dangerous,” and to embrace wanderlust.
Despite the vibrancy for life viewers would get from Bourdain, the unconventional, Brazilian jiu-jitsu-loving, tatted up cook, there were obviously struggles he was facing, like many of us. For those who are asking “What is going on?” or thinking this is something only impacting certain people, that is not the case. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, there are 44,965 suicides each year in the United States alone, with an average of 123 deaths per day. They report that the rate of suicide is highest in middle age.
Bourdain leaves behind a daughter named Ariane, born in 2007, girlfriend Asia Argento, and countless fans. His passing, by suicide, follows the suicide of famed designer Kate Spade, who passed away on Tuesday at the age of 55.