Anthony Bourdain, Celebrity Chef, Dead of Suicide at 61

Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Anthony Bourdain, host of CNN's 'Parts Unknown,' in Austin, Texas, U.S., on Sunday, March 13, 2016.
Anthony Bourdain, host of CNN's 'Parts Unknown,' in Austin, Texas, U.S., on Sunday, March 13, 2016.Credit: Bloomberg

U.S. celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, host of CNN's food-and-travel-focused "Parts Unknown" television series, killed himself in a French hotel room, CNN said on Friday, in the second high-profile suicide of a U.S. celebrity this week. He was 61.

Bourdain, whose career catapulted him from cooking at New York's top restaurants to dining in Vietnam with President Barack Obama, was found dead in a hotel room in Strasbourg, France, where he had been working on an upcoming episode of his program, CNN said in a statement. 

Bourdain's profile began to soar in 1999, when the New Yorker magazine published his article "Don't Eat Before Reading This," which he developed into the 2000 book, "Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly." 

He went on to host television programs, first on the Food Network and the Travel Channel, before joining CNN in 2013. 

"His love of great adventure, new friends, fine food and drink and the remarkable stories of the world made him a unique storyteller," the network said in a statement. "His talents never ceased to amaze us and we will miss him very much."

In 2013, Bourdain traveled to Israel for an episode of “Parts Unknown,” where he explored the culinary traditions of Jews and Arabs and reflected on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In the show he said his father was Catholic and his mother was Jewish, but that he was raised without religion.

“I’ve never been in a synagogue. I don’t believe in a higher power,” he told viewers. “But that doesn’t make me any less Jewish, I don’t think.”

Anthony Bourdain explores Jerusalem's Old City in this clip from CNN's "Parts Unknown".
Anthony Bourdain eats a traditional Palestinian meal in a clip from "Parts Unknown".

In July 2006, while filming an episode of “No Reservations” in Lebanon, the Second Lebanon War broke out after a Hezbollah attack in northern Israel. He and his crew were evacuated by boat with the help of the U.S. Marines.

Bourdain told the New Yorker in 2017 that his idea for "Parts Unknown," which was in its 11th season, was traveling, eating and doing whatever he wanted. The show featured meals in both out-of-the-way restaurants and the homes of locals, providing what the magazine called "communion with a foreign culture so unmitigated that it feels practically intravenous." 

Bourdain's celebrity was such that when Obama went to Hanoi, Vietnam in May 2016, he met him at a casual restaurant for a $6 meal of noodles and grilled pork. 

President Donald Trump told reporters as he left the White House that Bourdain's death was "very shocking." 

"I enjoyed his show, he was quite a character," Trump said. 

Anthony Bourdain meets the first all-female Palestinian racing team in a clip from CNN's "Parts Unkn

Suicide rates surged among people aged 45 to 64, according to the CDC report. The center recommended a broad approach to prevention, including boosting economic support by states, supporting family and friends after a suicide, and identifying and supporting those at risk.