Chef-turned-TV host Anthony Bourdain dies at 61

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Legendary chef and TV host Anthony Bourdain has died aged 61, the result of a hanging. Veuer’s Nathan Rousseau Smith has the tragic details.
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Anthony Bourdain, the outspoken former chef and host of CNN’s Parts Unknown, has died at age 61, his employer, CNN, confirmed Friday morning. 

CNN reported that Bourdain’s friend, chef Eric Ripert, had found him unresponsive in his hotel room in the northeastern French city of Strasbourg, where he had been working on Parts Unknown. The outlet said the cause of death was an apparent 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.”

Bourdain, who was born in New York and raised in New Jersey, graduated from the Culinary Institute of America and rose to nationwide prominence as executive chef at New York’s Brasserie Les Halles. 

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He began transitioning into the second phase of his career, turning a 1999 New Yorker story called “Don’t Eat This Before Reading” into the best-selling book Kitchen Confidential, offering foodies a glimpse at what goes on behind the doors of their favorite restaurants and insider tips like why they should never order fish on a Monday.  He was also frank about his past heroin use and the prevalence of substance-abuse issues in the culinary world. 

Our review:  Bourdain’s ‘Kitchen Confidential’ captured restaurants’ demented glory

Kitchen Confidential spawned two TV series: a Food Network travelogue called A Cook’s Tour and a short-lived Fox sitcom based on his career and personal foibles, starring a then-up-and-coming Bradley Cooper.

He became a household name with his next series, the Travel Channel’s No Reservations, which followed him as he traveled the world in search of life-changing culinary and cultural experiences beginning in 2005. It ran for nine seasons and won two Emmys Awards.

CNN picked it up in 2013 under the new name, Parts Unknown.

The shows also made him a witness to history, like in 2006 when he and his fixer found themselves trapped in Beirut as the Israel-Lebanese conflict broke out. A decade later Bourdain and President Obama supping at a hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Hanoi, Vietnam, a meal that became known as the “noodle summit.”

Bourdain, known for his barbed tongue, didn’t spare his fellow celebrity chefs from his scathing commentary. Whether high-brow or low, they were all fair game to him. He slammed Food Network stars like Paula Deen, Rachael Ray and Guy Fieri and high-end chefs like Alice Waters and Alan Ducasse.  Ray and Fieri later got their revenge at a raunchy roast in 2012

The quotable Anthony Bourdain: His best lines about life and the world

He was also outspoken on political and social-justice issues. When the immigration debate reached a full boil, he defended Mexican and Central American kitchen workers as “the backbone of the industry.” Through his girlfriend, actress Asia Argento, who has accused Harvey Weinstein of assault, he became a prominent male activist in the Me Too movement

Bourdain was married twice before beginning his relationship with Argento. He became a father at 50 in 2007 when he and his second wife, Ottavia Busia, welcomed daughter Ariane.

He wrote in a 2015 CNN piece that he considered naming her Beirut: “She was, after all, conceived within two hours of returning from my first visit there.”

Bourdain’s death comes just three days after fashion designer Kate Spade committed suicide.

Bourdain’s assistant and book publisher did not immediately respond to USA TODAY’s request for comment.

If you know someone who is thinking about suicide call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

More: Suicide warning signs: Here’s what to look for when someone needs help

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