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Anthony Bourdain: Kitchen Confidential author and chef dies aged 61

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Anthony Bourdain: Kitchen Confidential author and chef dies aged 61

American chef, author of Kitchen Confidential and television personality Anthony Bourdain has died aged 61.

Bourdain was in France working on his CNN food and travel series Parts Unknown. CNN confirmed Bourdain’s death in a statement and said the cause was believed to be suicide.

The network said: “It is with extraordinary sadness we can confirm the death of our friend and colleague, Anthony Bourdain. 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, born in New York City, attended the Culinary Institute of America, before going on to run various restaurants in New York City, including the Supper Club, One Fifth Avenue and Brasserie Les Halles, where he was executive chef for several years.

Bourdain gained global recognition with his explosive book Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, a warts and all insight into the unsavoury side of professional kitchens published in 2000. The book was born out of an article he had written for the New Yorker a year earlier called ‘Don’t Eat Before Reading’.

“I never anticipated Kitchen Confidential becoming so big,” Bourdain told The Caterer in an interview in 2001. “I won’t be totally miserable if the whole writing thing goes sour in a couple of years and I end up cooking eggs Benedict in some little restaurant where no one knows who I am.”

He was a gifted writer and went on to pen Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook, A Cook’s Tour, The Nasty Bits and Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook. Numerous articles also appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Times, Los Angeles Times and The Observer.

In an article he wrote for The Guardian in 2001, Bourdain highlighted who he regarded as the UK’s most prominent culinary stars, naming Gordon Ramsay as England’s greatest chef.

After eating at Ramsay’s Chelsea restaurant, he wrote: “He’s a cook in 21st-century England; that means he’s an obsessive, paranoid, conspiratorial control freak. A hustler, media-manipulator, artist, craftsman, bully, and glory hound – in short, a chef’s chef. His detractors should be so lucky as to taste the absolutely stunning braised beef and foie gras I ate at his restaurant.

“England’s worst boss? I don’t think so. England’s worst boss is the boss who doesn’t give a fuck, someone who’s wasting his employees’ time, challenging them to do nothing more ambitious than show up.”

Bourdain’s popular writing led him on to launch a successful television career which included a plethora of programmes including A Cook’s Tour, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations and Top Chef. He also appeared alongside Nigella Lawson as a fellow judge on The Taste. Lawson described Bourdain as “the Mick Jagger of food”.

The chef had an enduring rock’n’roll image and spoke openly of his historic drug addiction. In The Caterer’s interview in 2001 he said: “I’d be the last person in the world to say don’t take drugs for moral reasons. I’m still a big pot-head on my days off. But when cocaine is the main priority in your life, it’s not conducive to making good food. I know – I did so much of that 20 years ago, I know.”

Tributes have already been pouring in from the industry. Gordon Ramsay wrote: “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.”

“Another incredible loss to suicide. Heart broken, sad, in disbelief,” said Noma founder, chef René Redzepi.

The Observer’s food critic Jay Rayner said: “Terrible news about Tony Bourdain. He was a brilliant man, who single-handedly changed what food writing could be.”

If you have been affected by anything written in this article and need to speak to someone the Samaritans can be contacted 24-hours-a-day seven-days-a-week on 116 123.

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