New York (CNN)Anthony Bourdain, the chef and gifted storyteller who took TV viewers around the world to explore culture, cuisine and the human condition for nearly two decades, has died. He was 61.
CNN confirmed Bourdain's death on Friday and said the cause of death was suicide.
Bourdain was in France working on an upcoming episode of his award-winning CNN series, "Parts Unknown." His close friend Eric Ripert, the French chef, found Bourdain unresponsive in his hotel room 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 Friday morning. "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."
"Tony was an exceptional talent," CNN President Jeff Zucker said in an email to employees. "Tony will be greatly missed not only for his work but also for the passion with which he did it."
Fans, fellow chefs, celebrities and friends reacted with stunned sorrow.
"My heart breaks for Tony Bourdain," CNN's chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour wrote on Twitter. "May he rest in peace now.
"He was a friend, a collaborator, and family. A huge personality, a giant talent, a unique voice, and deeply, deeply human. My heart goes out to his daughter and family, and his longtime partners and friends at (production company) ZPZ."
Author and humorist John Hodgman recalled eating with Bourdain some 14 years ago.
"He was big even then, but he took time to sit with me in Chinatown to talk 'weird' food for a magazine piece I was writing. He taught me that our 'weird' is the world's delicious," Hodgman wrote on Twitter. "We ate chicken feet. The afternoon vibrated with life. RIP."
Anthony Bourdain, the chef, writer, and Emmy-winning television personality, died Friday morning of an apparent suicide at the age of 61. His death was confirmed to CNN, which reported that the Parts Unknown host was in Strasbourg, France, filming an episode of the series when chef Eric Ripert, a longtime friend of Bourdain’s, found him unresponsive in his hotel room.
"It is with extraordinary sadness we can confirm the death of our friend and colleague, Anthony Bourdain," CNN said in statement Friday morning. “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."
Bourdain worked in the dregs of the New York City restaurant scene for years before eventually becoming the executive chef at the French bistro Brasserie Les Halles. His experience in the industry led to the 2000 book Kitchen Confidential, in which he offered an unapologetic, 360-degree view of the American dining experience. Bourdain described what takes place behind the scenes in brutal, often hilarious detail, changing the way restaurant-goers considered everything from their appreciation of oysters to the best day of the week to order meat. The book became a bestseller and launched what turned into a prolific career as a television host.
After a two-year stint hosting A Cook's Tour on the Food Network, Bourdain began hosting No Reservations on the Travel Channel in 2005. The show saw Bourdain travel to both major metropolitan areas and far-flung locales around the globe, where he sampled local cuisine and provided insight into the relationship between food and culture. The show ran for nine seasons and won two Emmys. After leaving the Travel Channel in 2012, Bourdain began hosting CNN's Parts Unknown in 2013. A year later, he won a Peabody Award. The show, which was in the middle of its 11th season at the time of Bourdain's death, featured the chef traveling the world while offering his perspective on the food, culture and politics. In a 2017 episode, he shared a $6 meal of noodles with President Obama in Hanoi, Vietnam.
Bourdain was a titan of popular food culture, and even as his celebrity grew, he retained the rebellious, disaffected persona first projected in Kitchen Confidential. In addition to the book that launched his career, Bourdain authored several cookbooks, essay collections and works of fiction to complement his work onscreen. He was a ubiquitous presence on various food programs, always serving as the definitive authority on whatever issue – or dish – was brought to the table. As America's interest in food culture grew, and along with it a wave of celebrity chefs, none were as thoroughly respected both inside and outside of the industry as Bourdain.
In the months preceding his death, Bourdain became a vocal advocate of the #MeToo movement after his girlfriend, the Italian actress Asia Argento, came forward as a victim of Harvey Weinstein. Through his Twitter account and other media appearances, Bourdain called out critics of the movement and the prominent men accused of sexual misconduct, including fellow celebrity chef Mario Batali. "I came out of a brutal, oppressive business that was historically unfriendly to women," Bourdain said on The Daily Show in January. "I knew a lot of women, it turned out, who had stories about their experiences – about people I knew – who
did not feel I was the sort of person they could confide in."