Bourdain's grief-stricken mother shares her shock

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Celebrity,
Publish Date
Sunday, 10 June 2018, 9:58AM

Anthony Bourdain's grief-stricken mother has told of her shock after the 61-year-old chef's suicide.

Speaking to The New York Times on Friday, Gladys Bourdain, 83, said: "He is absolutely the last person in the world I would have ever dreamed would do something like this."

Ms. Bourdain, who works as a copy editor for the newspaper, said that she had spoken to her son in the days before his death, reports Daily Mail.

He was in a "dark mood", she said, but gave no indication of what he was potentially planning.

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'I am beyond devastated': Anthony Bourdain's girlfriend Asia Argento on his suicideAnthony Bourdain remembered for being open about his struggles

"Tony had been in a dark mood these past couple of days," she said.

She is at a loss over why he took his life when he was living so successfully and, seemingly, happily.

"He had everything. Success beyond his wildest dreams. Money beyond his wildest dreams," she added.

Anthony Bourdain shared this picture of him with his brother Christopher and mother Gladys on Instagram last year. Photo / Instagram

French prosecutors said late on Friday that there was no foul play involved in his death.

Bourdain was found unresponsive on Friday morning at Le Chambard hotel in Kayserberg by his close friend Éric Ripert.

On Friday, Ripert paid tribute to him in a statement. He said: "He was an exceptional human being, so inspiring and generous.

"One of the great storytellers of our time who connected with so many. I wish him peace. My love and prayers are with his family, friends and loved ones."

A toxicology exam is underway to determine if he had any traces of alcohol or other substances in his system at the time.

Bourdain had been open about his past struggles with drugs and was a recovered heroin addict.

French authorities say they are confident his death was a suicide and that "there is no element that makes us suspect that someone came into the room at any moment."

There were no signs of violence on his body, Prosecutor Christian de Rocquigny said.

On Friday, the TV star's girlfriend Asia Argento said she was 'devastated' by his unexpected death.

In a statement posted to Twitter, the actress, 42, remembered the 61-year-old celebrity chef as "brilliant" and her "protector".

"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. He was my love, my rock, my protector. I am beyond devastated. My thoughts are with his family. I would ask that you respect their privacy and mine," Argento wrote.

The statement came hours after Argento posted an image to her Instagram story that seemed to allude to Bourdain. In it, she wore a shirt with an image of Sid Vicious on it, one of Bourdain's idols, and the wording "f*** everyone". She then wrote over the image: "You know who you are". That picture, which was posted just two hours before the public announcement of Bourdain's death, was later deleted by Argento.

Twice-divorced Bourdain met Argento when they shot an episode of Parts Unknown in December of 2016, shortly after he broke up with his second wife, MMA fighter Ottavia Busia - the mother of his only child.

But lately, there had been speculation about whether the couple were still together. On Monday, Argento was pictured walking around Rome with journalist Hugo Clement. The two were photographed laughing and hugging. This was also just days after Bourdain bought a moody painting with the ominous title "The world is falling down, I am learning to live with it".

Bourdain and Argento's social media accounts, however, paint a picture of a couple still very much in love. Just two weeks ago, they posted the same loved of picture of them together in Firenze, Italy, shooting another Parts Unknown episode together.

It's a wrap! #Firenze @partsunknowncnn @anthonybourdain #makearteveryday

A post shared by asiaargento (@asiaargento) on

And in a February interview with People, Bourdain gushed about being "happy in ways I didn't think I ever would be" thanks to being with "somebody really strong" - an apparent reference to Argento.

But it was also during the same interview in which he said his daughter was his main reason to live. After Ariana was born in 2007, Bourdain said he felt "some responsibility" to "at least try to live".

"There have been times, honestly, in my life that I figured, 'I've had a good run - why not just do this stupid thing, this selfish thing… jump off a cliff into water of indeterminate depth,'" he said, referencing a thrill-seeking act he did for his former Travel Channel show, No Reservations.

"In retrospect, I don't know that I would do that today - now that I'm a dad or reasonably happy," he said.

Bourdain also said he knew he was 'going to pretty much die in the saddle' because he wouldn't ever retire.

"I gave up on that. I've tried. I just think I'm just too nervous, neurotic, driven," he said.

Argento was one of the many women who came forward to accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault last year.

When she told her story to the New Yorker in October, Bourdain praised her on Twitter, writing: "I am proud and honored to know you. You just did the hardest thing in the world."

Asia Argento and Anthony Bourdain attend the 2017 Creative Arts Emmy Awards. Photo / Getty Images

He continued to be one of the most outspoken male supporters of the #MeToo movement.

His close friend Éric Ripert, owner of New York City's famed Le Bernardin restaurant, found him dead Friday morning. Paramedics made efforts for revive Bourdin, before he was pronounced dead.

"Anthony was a dear friend," Ripert later told the New York Times. "He was an exceptional human being so inspiring and generous. One of the great storytellers of our time who connected with so many. I wish him peace. My love and prayers are with his family, friends and loved ones."

Christian De Rocquigny du Fayel, a prosecutor in the town of Colmar, confirmed Bourdain's death and said local law enforcement is investigating.

"At this stage nothing suggests the involvement of a third party," the prosecutor said, adding that 'a doctor at the scene' had confirmed Bourdin's death.

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

CNN President Jeff Zucker added in a company-wide email: "Tony was an exceptional talent. Tony will be greatly missed not only for his work but also for the passion with which he did it."

Celebrities and average Americans alike mourned Bourdain's loss on Twitter on Friday, including Chrissy Teigen and Gordon Ramsay. Even President Trump commented on his passing, telling reporters Bourdain's death was 'very sad' as he departed the White House for the G-7 summit.

Last year, Bourdain said in an interview with the New Yorker that he had blacked out in a restaurant in France and would happily return to abusing heroin if he ever had "a bad chest X-ray".

The interview will be among evidence read by Mr De Rocquigny du Fayel and judicial police as they investigate his sudden demise.

The New Yorker interview describes how Bourdain had improved his health after relying on heroin for many years, but collapsed in France soon after making an episode of 'Parts Unknown' in Vietnam.

He was in the southwest seaside resort of Arachon in around 2014 or 2015, and had taken a 'battery of painkillers and anti-inflammatories'.

The article by Patrick Radden Keefe reads: "After impulsively swallowing a week's supply, Bourdain realized that he had not eaten in thirty-six hours.

"He drove to a café in a nearby town, Arcachon, and ordered spaghetti and a bottle of Chianti. He was halfway through the wine when he realized that he was sweating through his clothes. Then he blacked out."

Bourdain survived the incident, but the article recalls how his father, music producer father Pierre Bourdain, died of a stroke in 1987, aged just 57.

The article reads: "Bourdain often thinks about dying; more than once, he told me that, if he got "a bad chest X-ray," he would happily renew his acquaintance with heroin.

"Taking meds and booze on an empty stomach was just a foolish mistake, but it left him shaken."

After Bourdain's death on Friday, Keefe recalled his time interviewing Bourdain for the profile, and said he remembers "dark threads running through our conversations".

"Bourdain freely acknowledged that part of the reason he continued to work at such a frantic pace might have been a fear about where his mind might go if he ever sat still.

"Any facile notion I might have entertained about writing a light-hearted portrait of a man with a dream job was, upon meeting Tony, quickly overtaken by a sense that he wasn't content - that, in all that globe-trotting, he was chasing something that would forever elude him," Keefe wrote.

Bourdain's contemporary, fellow food personality Andrew Zimmern, also sensed a dark side in Bourdain.

He told the New York Times that he last spoke to Bourdain about a month ago and he seemed to be doing well.

"He told me he'd never been happier. He felt that he had finally found his true soul mate in Asia," Zimmern said.

But Zimmern "had some indication that perhaps there was more going on," the story says.

"Things on the surface never seemed to add up or make sense," he told the paper.

Bourdain was born in New York City in 1956, and was raised in New Jersey by French music executive Pierre Bourdain and his wife Gladys, a copy editor at the New York Times. He credited summers spent in France as a child with his obsession with food.

Bourdain attended Vassar College but dropped out after two years. He started working in restaurants on Cape Cod, and decided to hone his craft further by studying at the Culinary Institute of America.

After graduating from the Institute in 1978, Bourdain moved to New York City and worked in some of Manhattan's most famous restaurants such as the Supper Club, One Fifth Avenue and Sullivan's - before becoming the executive chef at Brasserie Les Halles.

It was during his ggruellingdays as a chef that Bourdain got into drugs, mostly cocaine and heroin. In a 2013 interview with the Guardian, he said he got into using cocaine and heroin because of the normalcy of his suburban upbringing.

"I deeply resented the relative stability at my house. I started taking drugs as soon as I encountered them," Bourdain said.

Former neighbour Ted Scofield told DailyMail.com on Friday that Bourdain was a "super nice guy and very encouraging".

"I wouldn't say we were friends, but I knew him well enough to call him Tony. One Sunday a few years back I ran into him on a Sunday morning dropping off a bag of baby clothes that needed to be laundered at a place across the street from our building.

"When I remarked that a big TV star like him shouldn't have to do that, he reminded me that he worked for a cable station. Then, a while after that I saw him again, this time under different circumstances. He pulled up to our building in a shiny new BMW. With a wink and a smile, he said 'new contract baby!'" he recalled.

Doorman Jose Hernandez, said that "Mr. B, as we called him, was a nice, sweet man. He came out every morning and me and the other doormen would ask him questions about his travels. He always took the time to answer and smiled while doing so."

Jose added: "But he never talked much about his family. He was private in that regard."

Bourdain's profile began to soar in 1999, when the New Yorker published his article "Don't Eat Before Reading This," which he developed into the 2000 book, "Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly". The memoir also detailed his struggles with drug abuse, which led many to describe him as a "rockstar chef" and a "culinary bad boy".

He became a household name by hosting such shows as A Cook's Tour and No Reservations, which blended his love of food and travel. No Reservations was his break-out hit, catapulting him to national fame and earning him two Emmy Awards. The show ran from 2005 to 2012, when he let the Travel Channel for CNN.

At CNN, Bourdain traveled to lesser-known places for Parts Unknown, a show that was acclaimed for its cinematography and earned him a Peabody Award.

"He's irreverent, honest, curious, never condescending, never obsequious," the judges said of Bourdain at the time. "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."

While accepting the award in 2014, Bourdain explained the ethos of the show.

"We ask very simple questions: What makes you happy? What do you eat? What do you like to cook? And everywhere in the world we go and ask these very simple questions, we tend to get some really astonishing answers," he said.

Season 11 of the show premiered last month, and has featured episodes on West Virginia, Uruguay, Newfoundland, Armenia and Hong Kong. The Hong Kong episode was directed by Argento.

While Bourdain's TV career seemed to be better than ever, he had suffered one business failure recently.

During his years working in New York City kitchens, Anthony Bourdain battled addictions to heroin and cocaine. Photo / Getty Images

For the past two years, the chef had been working on 'Bourdain Market' - a Singapore-style food hall planned for New York City's Pier 57 development.

But in December, he told Eater that the market had been cancelled.

"Launching what is admittedly a very ambitious venture has proven to be challenging at every turn," he said. "It seems increasingly clear that in spite of my best efforts, the stars may not align at Pier 57 which is an especially complicated site for which we still do not have a lease."

Bourdain's death comes three days after American designer Kate Spade, who built a fashion empire on her signature handbags, was found dead in her New York apartment on Tuesday.

Suicide rates rose in nearly every U.S. state from 1999 to 2016, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday. Nearly 45,000 people committed suicide in 2016, making it one of three leading causes of death in the United States, along with Alzheimer's disease and drug overdoses.

CNN has planned a special weekend of programming to remember Bourdain. On Friday night, they will be airing 'Remembering Anthony Bourdain' at 10pm ET, the company said in a statement, without further details.

On Saturday at 8pm, they will also air Bourdain's favorite episodes of Parts Unknown, following Sunday by a new episode which will include a special introduction by Anderson Cooper. 'Remember Anthony Bourdain' will follow that episode as well.

Where to get help:

Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7) • Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7) • Youth services: (06) 3555 906 • Youthline: 0800 376 633 • Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7) • Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm) • The WordDepression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7) • Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155 • CASPER Suicide Prevention If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.