Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain has died at 61. The punk-rock chef rose to prominence with his book Kitchen Confidential and inspired millions of people to be more adventurous eaters with his shows No Reservations and Parts Unknown. CNN, the home of Parts Unknown, confirmed his death Friday morning.
"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."
Born in New York City and raised in New Jersey, Bourdain began his career working in seafood restaurants in Provincetown, Massachusetts. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America, he honed his craft in numerous restaurants in New York, eventually becoming executive chef at the acclaimed French restaurant Brassiere Les Halles.
In 1999, he wrote an article for The New Yorker about his experiences working in the restaurant industry which became the basis for his bestselling book Kitchen Confidential, published in 2000. The book established him as the broader culture's guide to the insular world of fine dining with its tales of drug abuse and reckless behavior. Bourdain was open about his addictions to cocaine and heroin in the '80s, which he overcame, though he still drank.
His outsize personality and stature in the industry led to him hosting a number of TV shows. His first, A Cook's Tour, ran for 35 episodes on the Food Network in 2002 and 2003. His second, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, ran on the Travel Channel from 2005 to 2012. He also hosted The Layover on the Travel Channel from 2011 to 2013. In 2013, he moved to CNN where he hosted Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. Each show featured him visiting places all over the world and soaking up the local culture and cuisine. He ate all kinds of food, ranging from Michelin three-star meals to disgusting delicacies like fermented shark and warthog rectum. His shows had the feel of hanging out with your coolest friend who was happy to share some of his coolness with you. His lust for life and love and respect for all cultures was always on display.
In 2001, he was named Food Writer of the Year by Bon Appétit magazine. Parts Unknown won the Emmy for Outstanding Informational Series or Special four years in a row, from 2013 to 2016, and he took home a Peabody Award for the series in 2014.
Recently, Bourdain had become an advocate against sexual harassment in the restaurant industry and in Hollywood (his girlfriend at the time of his death, actress Asia Argento, has accused Harvey Weinstein of raping her). He publicly grappled with his own complicity in cultures that turned a blind eye toward abuse in an uncommonly frank way for a man, and was one of the #MeToo movement's most vocal and sincere male supporters.
"I had to ask myself, particularly given some things that I'm hearing, and the people I'm hearing them about: Why was I not the sort of person, or why was I not seen as the sort of person, that these women could feel comfortable confiding in?" he said to Slate in October, shortly after the New York Times published its story on Harvey Weinstein that kicked off the #MeToo movement. "I see this as a personal failing."
He was also an advocate for Latinx people in the restaurant industry, calling immigrants from Latin countries "the backbone of the industry" and taking a stand against inequality.
Bourdain is survived by a daughter, Ariane, who was born in 2007. Bourdain was twice divorced. Asia Argento called him her "protector," writing, "Anthony gave all of himself in everything that he did. His brilliant, fearless spirit touched and inspired so many, and his generousity 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."
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