I am stunned and appalled that Anthony Bourdain, a sensualist and an adventurer whom I admired like few others, a guy who adored sitting on a plastic stool and eating Bun Cha in Hanoi as well as scootering through rural Vietnam as much I have, a late bloomer who’d lived a druggy, dissolute life in the ’70s and ’80s but had built himself into great shape and had led a rich and robust life in so many respects…I am absolutely floored that Bourdain has done himself in.
Bourdain was right at the top of my spitball list of famous fellows who would never, ever kill themselves because he seemed so imbued with the sensual joy of living, who had found so much happiness and fulfillment in so many foods and kitchens, in so many sights and sounds and aromas and atmospheres, travelling and roaming around 250 days per year and inhaling the seismic wonder of it all.
Bourdain was found dead in a Strasbourg hotel room earlier today.
He apparently suffered from depression, or so it’s being said this morning. He was 61, and by all indications in the absolute peak of his personal journey. Like me, Bourdain’s life didn’t really take off until the late ’90s, when he was in his early 40s. But when everything finally fell into place and he became famous and semi-wealthy, he seemed to revel in the feast but without losing his head. He always kept his sanity and sense of modesty.
Bourdain had been in a long-distance relationship with Asia Argento, who made headlines at last month’s Cannes Film Festival when she gave a speech that tore into Harvey Weinstein and accused the festival elite for normalizing and covering up Weinstein’s misdeeds.
I am very, very sorry for Argento’s loss and everyone else’s, and I mean tens if not hundreds of thousands of followers and admirers.
“For decades, he worked 13-hour days as a line cook in restaurants in New York and the Northeast before he became executive chef in the 1990s at Brasserie Les Halles, serving steak frites and onion soup in Lower Manhattan. He had been the chef there for eight years when he sent an unsolicited article to The New Yorker about the underbelly of the restaurant world and its deceptions.
“To his surprise, the magazine accepted it and ran it, catching the attention of book editors. It resulted in ‘Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly,’ a memoir that elevated Mr. Bourdain to a celebrity chef and a new career on TV. Before he joined CNN in 2012, he spent eight seasons as the globe-trotting host of ‘No Reservations’ on the Travel Channel, highlighting obscure cuisine and unknown restaurants.
“Mr. Bourdain became an instant hero to a certain breed of professional cooks and restaurant goers when ‘Kitchen Confidential’ hit the best-seller lists in 2000.”
“He is largely credited for defining an era of line cooks as warriors, exposing a kitchen culture in which drugs, drinking and long, brutal hours on the line in professional kitchens were both a badge of honor and a curse.”