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Star Chef, Writer Anthony Bourdain Dies at 61

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American chef, writer and television personality Anthony Bourdain was found dead in his hotel room Friday in France.

CNN confirmed his death. The media company called his death a suicide.

Bourdain was 61 years old.

He was in France working on his CNN series about food traditions around the world.

Media cameras are seen outside Le Chambard Hotel in Kaysersberg-Vignoble, where Bourdain was found dead on France, June 8, 2018.
Media cameras are seen outside Le Chambard Hotel in Kaysersberg-Vignoble, where Bourdain was found dead on France, June 8, 2018.

Bourdain gained fame after the publication in 2000 of his best-selling book Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly.

The book combined details of his life and career with observations on the food and restaurant business. It was both serious and funny and appealed to a wide group of readers, although it was written for people working in the food service industry.

Bourdain’s popularity grew wider in 2005, as the star of the Travel Channel show No Reservations. The show was broadcast for nine seasons. Bourdain gained an even larger international following after the launch of his CNN series Parts Unknown.

Then-U.S. President Barack Obama talks with Anthony Bourdain after an interview at a shopping area of Hanoi, Vietnam May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Then-U.S. President Barack Obama talks with Anthony Bourdain after an interview at a shopping area of Hanoi, Vietnam May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

CNN chief executive Jeff Zucker sent a note to employees about Bourdain’s death.

“Tony was an exceptional talent. A storyteller. A gifted writer. A world traveler. An adventurer. He brought something to CNN that no one else had ever brought before,” Zucker wrote in the letter. “This is a very, very sad day.”

President Donald Trump was among those shocked and saddened by the news.

“I want to extend to his family my heartfelt condolences,” Trump said.

Chef and television star Nigella Lawson tweeted she was “Heartbroken.”

Anthony Bourdain at the premiere of 'The Big Short.'
Anthony Bourdain at the premiere of 'The Big Short.'

Other television personalities, including broadcaster Megyn Kelly, offered sympathies. They urged those who need help to contact suicide prevention telephone hotlines.

Bourdain’s death came three days after fashion designer Kate Spade took her life at her home in New York City. Spade’s husband and business partner said the 55-year-old business leader had suffered from mental health problems for many years.

Bourdain’s Parts Unknown seemed an unusual choice for CNN when it started in 2013. It was part travel show, part history class, part love letter to food.

People walk past a billboard for the CNN television show 'Parts Unknown' with American celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, Friday, June 8, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia.
People walk past a billboard for the CNN television show 'Parts Unknown' with American celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain, Friday, June 8, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Bourdain mixed in a wild quality true to the rock ‘n’ roll music he loved.

Bourdain said he did not claim to understand exactly why the show was so popular.

“You go out there and show the best story you can as best you can,” he told AP. “If it’s interesting to you, hopefully, it’s interesting to others. If you don’t make television like that, it’s pandering.”

Bourdain was born in New York City and was raised in Leonia, New Jersey. He said his youth was troubled by drug use and he left college after two years.

Working in restaurants led him to the Culinary Institute of America, where he completed his studies in 1978. Then he began working at eateries in New York City. He became executive chef at Brasserie Les Halles in 1998.

Bourdain wrote that he was shocked by the success of Kitchen Confidential.

“What I set out to do was write a book that my fellow cooks would find entertaining and true,” he said. “I wanted it to sound like me talking at say...ten o’clock on a Saturday night.”

CNN is currently broadcasting the 11th season of Parts Unknown.

I'm Lucija Millonig.

The Associated Press reported this story. Caty Weaver adapted the report for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.

We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section.

Words in This Story

chef – n. an experienced cook who prepares meals for others

talent – n. an ability to do something well

adventurer – n. explorer

condolences – n. an expression of sympathy

hotline – n. a telephone service available to the general public

pander – v. to do what someone wants, even when it is not a good idea

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