Anthony Bourdain, 61-year-old American celebrity chef, was found dead in his hotel room in France. It was pronounced a suicide.
Bourdain was in Kaysersberg, a small Alsatian village between Strasbourg and Colmar, shooting an episode for his series named Parts Unknown for CNN, discussing culinary traditions around the world. His hanged body was found by close friend French chef Eric Ripert, the owner of Le Bernardin in Manhattan.
Born in New York City, Bourdain’s love of food began on a childhood vacation in Arcachon, France, the birthplace of his paternal grandfather. While there, he tasted his first oyster. He dropped out of Vassar College after two years, but graduated from the Culinary Institute of America.
He became famous as a chef at Brasserie Les Halles, a French restaurant in Lower Manhattan, and for his memoir, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, chronicling his kitchen experience in 1990s New York. The book became a New York Times bestseller, and Bourdain was named Food Writer of the Year in 2001 by Bon Appétit magazine.
His food writing led to his becoming of a television personality. He hosted A Cook’s Tour on the Food Network, No Reservations on the Travel Channel, and Parts Unknown on CNN, where he focused on different countries around the world and their political history meshed with the local cuisine.
Bourdain became a foodie icon and was praised in the culinary industry. The Beirut episode of No Reservations received an Emmy award in 2007, and Parts Unknown received a Peabody Award in 2013. In 2016, President Barack Obama and Anderson Cooper accompanied Bourdain on an episode of Parts Unknown in Hanoi, Vietnam, and discussed Vietnamese-American relations while sharing a meal.
His untimely death caused an outpouring on social media. CNN chief executive Jeff Zucker stated that “Tony was an exceptional talent. A storyteller. A gifted writer. A world traveler.” Television host James Oliver wrote on Instagram that he “really broke the mould” and “leaves chefs and fans around the world with a massive foodie hole that simply can’t be replaced.” Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay wrote that Bourdain “brought the world into our homes and inspired so many people to explore cultures and cities through their food.”