The American chef, author, and TV presenter Anthony Bourdain has died at the age of 61. He shot to fame with the release of his restaurant-industry memoir Kitchen Confidential in 2000, following the publication of an article in the New Yorker. In the former, his self-characterisation as having a rock ’n’ roll lifestyle changed the image of the chef for a new millennium and propelled him to the forefront of a new type of food media. It has been reported that he took his own life. He was found in hotel room near the French city of Strasbourg, where he was filming an episode of his CNN TV show, Parts Unknown.
As Eater’s Greg Morabito notes, “Bourdain remained one of the strongest voices in food media...[who] filmed hundreds of hours of television, published and edited numerous acclaimed books about kitchen life, and generally changed the tone and purview of food media in a major way.” And with that, more recently, with his show Parts Unknown, as one Twitter user remarked: “Anthony Bourdain had one of the only shows on tv that tried with all its might to teach Americans not to be scared of other people.”
In London, he was known to be an admirer of Fergus Henderson and his seminal restaurant, St. John. The pair were friends. Henderson was unable to comment when contacted this morning.
Marco Pierre White, who once described Bourdain as the “Hemingway of gastronomy,” was another of the old-school, iconic London chefs with whom the American would share meals in the capital.
In a famous episode of his show The Layover, Bourdain traveled, in a black cab, around London in 2012, with both Henderson and White, eating at their restaurants, as well as drinking Peronis at Trishas on Greek, drinking coffee at Bar Italia in Soho and commenting on how great the bacon sandwiches were at one of the famous green cabman’s shelters.
Among many tributes paid by the world of food, media, and entertainment today was one from Jamie Oliver, who said, “I have to say I’m in total shock to hear that the amazing @Bourdain has just died he really broke the mould, pushed the culinary conversation, Rest in peace chef thoughts and love to all his family and close friends xxxxxxxxxxx.”
Author and chef Nigella Lawson, who announced she would be taking a break from Twitter today, said that she was “heartbroken.”
Heartbroken to hear about Tony Bourdain’s death. Unbearable for his family and girlfriend. Am going off twitter for a while— Nigella Lawson (@Nigella_Lawson) June 8, 2018
Chef and author Yotam Ottolenghi, who visited Jerusalem with Bourdain in 2013, told Eater that there was no one like Bourdain, someone who had a passion not just for food, but for the people behind it:
I was fortunate enough to work with Anthony on a couple of occasions. What struck me most about him was his curiosity and his passion not only for food but for the people behind the food. He wasn’t scared to tackle the difficult subjects either. The programme I did with him in Jerusalem was one such occasion; he managed to engage with Israelis and Palestinians and tell their stories through food. He was someone who challenged us to see the world and its cultures through food, there was no one like him and he will be sorely missed.
A “stunned and saddened” Gordon Ramsay said Bourdain “brought the world into our homes and inspired so many people to explore cultures and cities through their food.”
Stunned and saddened by the loss of Anthony Bourdain. He brought the world into our homes and inspired so many people to explore cultures and cities through their food. Remember that help is a phone call away US:1-800-273-TALK UK: 116 123— Gordon Ramsay (@GordonRamsay) June 8, 2018
Further tributes flooded in for a man who, for many, irrevocably changed what food writing meant. Food’s intersections with politics, class, race and gender were the paths Bourdain forged in the world, putting voices too often marginalised or silenced front and centre of the conversation:
Rest in peace to someone I’ve always admired and who, amongst many other wonderful things, really seemed to understand what Burma was about.— MiMi Aye (@meemalee) June 8, 2018
He will be sorely missed #AnthonyBourdain pic.twitter.com/2ecZOwPO9c
Bourdain never treated our food like he "discovered" it. He kicked it with grandma because he knew that HE was the one that needed to catch up to our brilliance.— Jenny Yang (@jennyyangtv) June 8, 2018
I wish so much for his legacy to take hold in western (mostly white) food media culture. What a loss. I'm so sad.
To me, that’s what @Bourdain was. Far from perfect, but damn, he was trying and most importantly, trying to support new voices. Trying to find the right way to do it. Open to critique. Jesus, so few good ‘uns— Anna Sulan Masing (@AnnaSulan) June 8, 2018
Incredible how people from all over the entire planet and especially places that struggle big time with western cultural appropriation are universally crediting Bourdain with respecting their culture. What a legacy.— ruth claire (@roo_claire) June 8, 2018
His fearlessness in speaking out against injustice matched only by bringing food countries and cuisines to as many people as possible. The way he did it might have been complicated, but always generous. An astounding man. Be safe in parts unknown. RIP https://t.co/K1LTNqszIz— James Hansen (@jameskhansen) June 8, 2018
what I always loved about Bourdain's approach was that unlike many of his peers, he never was surprised as the humanity and depth that exists in other cultures. instead, he always emphasized how much we can all learn from others.— Khushbu Shah (@KhushAndOJ) June 8, 2018
If you or anyone you know is considering suicide or self-harm or is anxious, depressed, upset, or needs to talk, call Samaritans on 116 123 in the U.K. In the U.S., call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text the Crisis Text Line at 741-741. For international resources, here is a good place to begin.