Celebrity chef, author Anthony Bourdain dead at 61

Anthony Bourdain, the celebrity chef who took foodies around the world as part of his travelogue programs, has died at age 61, CNN said Friday.

The cause of death was suicide, the network said in a statement. He was found dead in a hotel room in Strasbourg, France, where he had been working on an upcoming episode of his program, the network said.

Bourdain's popular show Parts Unknown airs on the network. The New York chef previously hosted shows and documentaries on The Food Network and Travel Channel.

"His love of great adventure, new friends, fine food and drink and the remarkable stories of the world made him a unique storyteller," CNN said in a statement on Friday. "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."

Parts Unknown took Bourdain around the globe. At each stop, he would delve into the regional culture and sample the cuisine, typically led by local experts. Last fall, he was spotted in Newfoundland and Labrador and the nearby French island of St. Pierre.

American chef and TV personality describes dining with Barack Obama in Vietnam and explains why he wouldn't eat with U.S. President Donald Trump 7:50

"I have the best job in the world," Bourdain told CBC in 2017. 

He said in the interview that his job came at a personal cost to family life, as he had separated from his second wife and missed his daughter, who is 11, while on the road.

"I travel 250 days a year. How normal could I ever hope to be?"

He had recently been dating actress Asia Argento, one of the prominent accusers of film producer Harvey Weinstein.

Anthony Bourdain, shown in a 2001 media photo at his Les Halles restaurant in New York City, graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1978 and rose through the New York ranks, branching out to own restaurants in other cities. (Jim Cooper/Associated Press)

Bourdain graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1978 and rose through the New York ranks, including serving as executive chef at the famed Brasserie Les Halles in 1998.

Honest about addiction struggles

He began to gain wider public attention with the release of the Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, a book published in 2000, and the next year's followup Cook's Tour: In Search of the Perfect Meal Country.

Bourdain was honest in retelling his life story about his struggles with heroin addiction.

As he branched out into television opportunities, he became known for his acerbic style, admitting he had honed a role as a "provocateur."

"Every time I drive by an Olive Garden, I'm angry," he told CBC's George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight in 2010. "You call that Italian food?"

Anthony Bourdain is seen with actress Asia Argento at an Emmy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles on Sept. 9, 2017. (Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)

On vegetarians, he told the same program: "Bad tourists, bad guests, not a lot of fun and generally flatulent."

But he took the intersection of food, culture and politics seriously, preferring to visit local markets and food stalls rather than high-end restaurants.

He told CBC's On The Money in 2016 he was "dismayed" at a recent tide in the world of xenophobia and anti-migrant sentiment.

Anthony Bourdain, and other celebrity chefs, help solve the problem of food waste as one-third of all food grown for human consumption ends up in the garbage. 1:07:43

"If you travel as long as I have and as much as I have, and you meet as many people and spend time with them, in countries that we're supposed to hate and who are supposed to hate us, when you see how mostly similar people are, particularly when sitting around a table, it makes it very, very hard [to see]," he said.

Frequently in demand, Bourdain also stretched his writing skills by creating crime novels and a graphic novel.

Yet, even as one of the world's most famous foodies, he continued to marvel at his success. In the latest preface for his breakout memoir Kitchen Confidential, Bourdain admitted that he never intended it to "rip the lid off the restaurant business," but rather to write a book for his fellow cooks in his own voice. 

"What I set out to do was write a book that my fellow cooks would find entertaining and true."

He said he never thought his book would have appeal beyond professional kitchens.

True to his character, he then offered self-deprecating commentary about contributing to what has become North America's obsession with and veneration of top chefs and restaurateurs. 

"The new celebrity chef culture is a remarkable and admittedly annoying phenomenon. While it's been nothing but good for business — and for me personally — many of us in the life can't help snickering about it," he wrote.

"Of all the professions, after all, few people are less suited to be suddenly thrown into the public eye than chefs."

Where to get help:

The toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 (Phone), Live Chat counselling at www.kidshelpphone.ca

Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention: Find a 24-hour crisis centre

Association québécoise de prévention du suicide (AQPS) (French): 1-866-APPELLE

If you're worried someone you know may be at risk of suicide, you should talk to them about it, says the Canadian Association of Suicide Prevention. 

Here are some warning signs: 

Suicidal thoughts.
Substance abuse.
Feeling trapped.
Hopelessness and helplessness.
Mood changes.

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