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.
"It is with extraordinary sadness we can confirm the death of our friend and colleague, Anthony Bourdain," the network said in a statement. "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."
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.
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 #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.
Argento posted this note on Twitter: "Anthony gave all of himself in everything that he did. His brilliant, fearless spirit touched and inspired so many, and his generosity knew no bounds. He was my love, my rock, my protector. I am beyond devastated. My thoughts are with his family. I would ask that you respect their privacy and mine."
One of Bourdain's last tweets showed his dancing with Argento in Hong Kong on June 3.
Bourdain was no stranger to Houston. He brought his Travel Channel show "No Reservations" here previously.
He later returned to Houston to explore the unknown food scene and the culture as part of his CNN show "Parts Unknown" in 2016.
"Bourdain confesses right up front that he wasn't expecting Houston to be the fascinatingly diverse place he found. He'd bought into the Texas stereotypes. anticipating a populace intolerant, invariably right-wing, white, waddling between the fast-food outlet and the gun store," reported the Houston Chronicle at the time of the episode's airing.
He also appeared in an episode of Great Day Houston 2015 where he spoke with KHOU 11's Deborah Duncan.
Bourdain's death comes the same week as the suicide of designer Kate Spade. And the CDC just released figures revealing suicides have increased over the past 20 years.
If you or someone you know needs help, please give the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline a call: 1-800-273-8255. Reach out. Help is all around.