Anthony Bourdain eating in Hue, Vietnam (Photo courtesy of David S. Holloway/CNN)
American author, chef, and television host Anthony Bourdain was found dead at age 61 Friday morning, CNN reported. Bourdain was in France filming for Parts Unknown when close friend and fellow celebrity chef Eric Ripert found him unresponsive in his hotel room. The cause of death was suicide.
This news is difficult to grasp. The whole Tucson Foodie office absolutely adored him. Chefs have expressed to us how influential Bourdain was to their careers.
Bourdain was easily the single biggest influence in my career. In college, I originally wanted to be a restaurateur — when I realized I hated dealing with accounting or anything finance-related at all, I stopped to think who had a job I wanted, regardless of how realistic the goal was. Anthony Bourdain was that person. I loved how curious he was on No Reservations, how he had explored the world but showed deep fondness for Vietnam and a good bowl of pho. I’ve labeled myself as a “wannabe Anthony Bourdain” on countless occasions.
He knew his food. He was no expert, but people respect him and love him because he was genuine and had a background in the culinary field. He wasn’t some entitled blogger or culinary school graduate. He worked through the trenches. Even when he was alive, the comments I saw online about him from random people were always about how kind he was when they encountered him for the first time in the streets or at a restaurant.
I switched majors to journalism in the hopes I could develop at least half the talent of Bourdain. Once I graduated, I moved to Portland to try to get a cooking job. That didn’t work out as hoped, but I still ended up reaching my goal as a food writer. All inspired by this man.
Bourdain’s apparent suicide is a tragic reminder of how powerful depression can be. Even someone as jovial as Robin Williams or influential as Kate Spade couldn’t cope. It can affect anyone regardless of how happy or successful they seem. We don’t know what people go through regardless of what they show on the surface. If your or someone you know has thoughts of suicide, please know that the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-8255.
Please take care of yourselves, friends.
Here are some words that Tucson restaurants have had to share about Bourdain: