The man who opened America’s mind to the food culture of the world, the outspoken chef, author and television host who brought to the table a relatability and innate curiosity about the world, has died at the age of 61. CNN said Bourdain hanged himself in eastern France, where he was working on an episode of “Parts Unknown.” French chef Eric Ripert of New York’s Le Bernardin, a longtime friend, found Bourdain unresponsive in his hotel room, according to the network.
His legions of fans benefited — through his writing and his many television and online shows, Bourdain transcended mere food celebrity to become an adept storyteller who weaved together tales on cuisine, culture and the connections between them.His early public persona — the macho, unrepentant, drug-loving chef — evolved into that of a clear-eyed crusader for global food justice.
Bourdain’s love affair with food began on a summer vacation in France when he ate an oyster straight from the ocean. By 2001, he was hosting his own series on the Food Network, “A Cook’s Tour.” He then spent nearly eight years on the Travel Channel with his series “Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations” and “The Layover.” Bourdain jumped to CNN in 2013 to host “Parts Unknown,” which became the centerpiece of the cable network’s push into original programming not tied to the news of the day.
“He cared more about the line cook a lot of the time than he did about the exalted chef,” said Jonathan Gold, The Times’ food critic.
His brilliant, fearless spirit touched and inspired so many and his generosity knew no bound. He was a charismatic personality with a rebellious nature and an iron stomach.
Bourdain once wrote. “Travel isn’t always pretty, Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s OK. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”
Bourdain was born in New York City on June 25, 1956, and grew up in Leonia, N.J. His father was a recording industry executive and his mother a staff editor for the New York Times.