Globe-trotting celebrity chef, author and television personality Anthony Bourdain has been found dead in his hotel room, aged 61, after a suspected suicide, CNN has reported.
He is survived by daughter Ariane Bourdain, 11.
Bourdain was in Strasbourg, in eastern France, on a shoot for his CNN series, Parts Unknown.
CNN confirmed Bourdain’s death on Friday and said the cause of death was suicide.
“It is with extraordinary sadness we can confirm the death of our friend and colleague, Anthony Bourdain,” the network said in a statement om Friday evening (AEST).
“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 was a best-selling food, fiction and nonfiction author, a larger-than-life and often controversial figure.
His close friend, French chef Eric Ripert, reportedly found his friend unresponsive in his hotel room Friday morning (local time).
The news comes in the same week that fashion icon Kate Spade hanged herself in her New York apartment in an apparent suicide, after reports she had suffered years of depression and anxiety.
CNN described Bourdain as “a master of his crafts – first in the kitchen and then in the media”.
“Through his TV shows and books, he explored the human condition and helped audiences think differently about food, travel and themselves. He advocated for marginalised populations and campaigned for safer working conditions for restaurant staffs,” CNN’s Brian Stelter wrote.
The Smithsonian in the United States once called him “the original rock star” of the culinary world, “the Elvis of bad boy chefs”
His 1999 New Yorker article, Don’t Eat Before Reading This became his best-selling book Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly which catapulted him on to the global stage.
He then hosted television programs including A Cook’s Tour and Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations which won two Emmy Awards.
New York brasserie Les Halles, the restaurant where Bourdain served as executive chef in the 1990s, became a makeshift shrine on Friday where dozens of people left flowers and messages reflecting on what the chef meant to them.
“Thank you for bringing a respectful view to the people of Palestine, Libya, Iran and more. You brought people together,” one message read.
Stopped by Les Halles in NY, where people are paying their respects to Anthony Bourdain. pic.twitter.com/KC7FuClHgE
— DJ Judd (@juddzeez) June 8, 2018
In 2014, Bourdain was recognised with an MPAC Media Award for his portrayal of the Middle East during a visit to Jerusalem and Palestine in season two of Parts Unknown.
“People are not statistics, that is all we attempted to show; a small, pathetically small, step towards understanding,” he said in his acceptance speech
He wrote in his book Appetites: A Cookbook that becoming a father “late” at age 50 was just right because he was “mature enough” for the “biggest and most important of jobs: the love and care of another human being”.
When Bourdain welcomed Ariane’s arrival with second wife Ottavia Busia, “I began making some major changes in my life”, he wrote. “I was no longer the star of my own movie. From that point on, it was all about the girl”.
In recent times, Bourdain became a leading male voice of support in the #MeToo movement. His girlfriend, Italian actress Asia Argento, was one of the main accusers against Hollywood movie producer Harvey Weinstein.
In a statement shared on Twitter, Argento described her late partner as generous and inspiring and said she was “beyond devastated”.
“Anthony gave all of himself in everything that he did. His brilliant, fearless spirit touched and inspired so many, and his generosity knew no bounds,” she wrote.
“He was my love, my rock, my protector. I am beyond devastated.”
— Asia Argento (@AsiaArgento) June 8, 2018
In an interview with IndieWire magazine just last week, Bourdain praised Argento’s strength after she accused Weinstein of sexual assault in a New Yorker expose.
“It was absolutely fearless to walk right into the lion’s den and say what she said, the way she said it,” he said. “It was an incredibly powerful moment, I thought. I am honoured to know someone who has the strength and fearlessness to do something like that.”
Bourdain also spoke out against fellow chef and longtime friend Mario Batali who was accused of sexual harassment by several women earlier this year.
“Retire and count yourself lucky,” Bourdain said at the time.
Reacting to the news of his death, Barack Obama – who was interviewed with Bourdain in Vietnam for an episode of Parts Unknown in 2016 – said the chef brought people together.
“Low plastic stool, cheap but delicious noodles, cold Hanoi beer. This is how I’ll remember Tony,” Obama wrote on Twitter.
“He taught us about food — but more importantly, about its ability to bring us together. To make us a little less afraid of the unknown. We’ll miss him.”
Celebrities in the food world also rushed to express their disbelief on Friday. British television personality Nigella Lawson said she was “heartbroken” by the news, while chef Gordon Ramsay said he was “stunned and saddened”.
“He brought the world into our homes and inspired so many people to explore cultures and cities through their food,” Ramsay tweeted.
“Low plastic stool, cheap but delicious noodles, cold Hanoi beer.” This is how I’ll remember Tony. He taught us about food — but more importantly, about its ability to bring us together. To make us a little less afraid of the unknown. We’ll miss him. pic.twitter.com/orEXIaEMZM
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) June 8, 2018
Stunned and saddened by the loss of Anthony Bourdain. He brought the world into our homes and inspired so many people to explore cultures and cities through their food. Remember that help is a phone call away US:1-800-273-TALK UK: 116 123
— Gordon Ramsay (@GordonRamsay) June 8, 2018
Anthony was my best friend. An exceptional human being, so inspiring & generous. One of the great storytellers who connected w so many. I pray he is at peace from the bottom of my heart. My love & prayers are also w his family, friends and loved ones. pic.twitter.com/LbIeZK14ia
— Eric Ripert (@ericripert) June 8, 2018
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