Chef, TV personality Bourdain dead at 61

Brent Lang
Television personality and writer Anthony Bourdain has died aged 61

Anthony Bourdain, the television personality and writer, who shot to fame with his culinary-driven globe trotting, has died aged 61.

CNN, the network for which Bourdain hosted the popular Parts Unknown, a wine and food-focused travel series, confirmed Bourdain took his own life.

"It is with extraordinary sadness we can confirm the death of our friend and colleague, Anthony Bourdain," the network said in a statement on 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."

According to the network, Bourdain was in France working on an upcoming episode of his CNN series. His friend, French chef Eric Ripert, found him unresponsive in his hotel room on Friday morning.

After toiling for years in kitchens around Manhattan and as executive chef at Brasserie Les Halles, Bourdain hit the big time with the 2000 publication of "Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly."

The best-seller was hailed by critics for its witty, energetically written look behind-the-scenes of the restaurant industry.

He parlayed his literary success into a gig with Food Network hosting A Cook's Tour.

The show introduced Bourdain's signature programming approach -- it followed the chef with the hangdog look, hint of a hangover, and barely disguised five o'clock shadow to exotic ports of call as he sampled local cuisine and introduced viewers to foreign cultures.

It was a concept that Bourdain would revisit to great success on the Travel Channel's No Reservations and The Layover.

Those programs aired from 2005 to 2013.

Bourdain left Travel Channel for CNN, becoming a fixture of the cable news channel's lineup with Parts Unknown.

The travel and food series tagged along with Bourdain as he ate grilled pork and noodles with President Barack Obama in Hanoi, examined the legacy of apartheid in Johannesburg and experienced the harvest festival, Gawai Dayak, in Borneo.

In 2013, Peabody Award judges honoured Bourdain and Parts Unknown for "expanding our palates and horizons in equal measure."

"He's irreverent, honest, curious, never condescending, never obsequious," the judges said. "People open up to him and, in doing so, often reveal more about their hometowns or homelands than a traditional reporter could hope to document."

Bourdain said he struggled with celebrity and noted there was a downside to the international exposure his show gave dive bars and hole-in-the-wall eateries.

"If I name the place...I've changed it," Bourdain said in a 2017 interview on Fresh Air.

"The next time I go back, there's tourists. There's people who've seen it on the show. And then I might hear from the same person from that neighbourhood say, you ruined my favourite bar, you know? All the regular customers have run away and it's filled with, you know, tourists in ugly T-shirts and flip-flops."

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