NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Celebrity chef and television host Anthony Bourdain is dead from an apparent suicide. He was 61.

CNN confirmed the death, saying Bourdain was in France working on an episode of his award-winning series “Parts Unknown.” His friend, French chef Eric Ripert, found him unresponsive in his hotel room Friday morning, CNN said.

“His love of great adventure, new friends, fine food and drink and the remarkable stories of the world made him a unique storyteller,” the network said in a statement. “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 was staying at Le Chambard, a 5-star hotel in the village of Kayserberg. On Instagram, Ripert called Bourdain “my best friend.”

“He was an exceptional human being, so inspiring and generous. One of the great storytellers of our time who connected with so many around the world on a level rarely seen,” Ripert said. “He brought us all on some incredible journeys. I pray he is at peace from the bottom of my heart. My love and prayers are also with his family, friends, loved ones and everyone that knew him.”

Editor’s note: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 1-800-273-8255. You can also learn more and chat with them online by clicking here

Anthony Bourdain and Eric Ripert attend “WASTED! The Story of Food Waste” Premiere during 2017 Tribeca Film Festival at BMCC Tribeca PAC on April 22, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Robin Marchant/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival)

Police sources told French news agency AFP that the cause of death was hanging, CBS News reported.

In a note to staff, CNN chief executive Jeff Zucker said the circumstances of Bourdain’s death were still unclear but that “we do know that Tony took his own life.”

“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 said in the letter. “This is a very, very sad day.”

Bourdain was born in New York City and raised in Leonia, New Jersey. He was divorced twice and has a daughter from his second marriage.

He graduated from the Dwight Englewood school in in 1973 and then graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1978, moving onto several New York City restaurants. He became executive chef at Brasserie Les Halles in 1998.

Leading up to that, he wrote an expose for New Yorker Magazine and CBS2 did this report with him, interviewing him in April Of 1999. 

He took viewers behind the scenes into the kitchens, where he was a whistleblower, advocating for cleanliness, healthier food and better working conditions for staff.

“I was in a cranky mood after my last restaurant closed and felt no reason not to tell the truth about a business I both love and have mixed emotions about,” Bourdain told CBS2 in 1999.

His first book in 2000, “Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly” catapulted him to fame.

He had written that his love of food began as a youth while on a family vacation in France, when he ate his first oyster. He was candid about his personal struggles, saying that drug use led to his dropping out of Vassar College after two years.

In 2016, Bourdain spoke with CBS News’ Anthony Mason.

“I think when you travel as much as I have, you, I don’t want to say I’m more humble, but I think you become aware of how other people live, how hard their lives are, how big the world is and then of course fatherhood changes everything,” Bourdain said. “At that moment, you stop being the star of the film. For me, that was an enormous relief and a gift.”

Celebrities, friends, fellow chefs, fans and others were shocked by the news.

“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,” Actress and activist Asia Argento, Bourdain’s girlfriend, posted on Instagram.

Chef Gordon Ramsay tweeted he was “stunned and saddened,” saying Bourdain “brought the world into our homes and inspired so many people to explore cultures and cities through their food.”

Andrew Zimmern, host of “Bizarre Foods,” said “a piece of my heart is truly broken this morning” saying “the sad cruel irony is that last year, he’d never been happier.”

“Tony was a symphony,” he wrote. “I wish everyone could have seen all of him. A true friend.”

Chef Jamie Oliver wrote on Instagram that he was “in total shock.”

“He leaves chefs and fans around the world with a massive foodie hole that simply can’t be replaced,” Oliver said.

Lin-Manuel Miranda tweeted that “Bourdain’s exceptional writing made this one formerly picky, fearful eater very brave and want to try everything and I’ll always be grateful for him and the worlds he opened.”

Chrissy Tiegan called Bourdain “one of my idols.”

“Unapologetic, passionate and one of the best storytellers on the planet,” she said. “Thank you for making food so exciting. And always standing up for everything right. Horrible. Why why why. Be at peace now.”

“Another heartbreaking loss,” tweeted actress-singer Lea Michele. “You are and will always be one of my idols Anthony Bourdain… watching your show always brought me such happiness. Thoughts and prayers are with your family now.”

“Maya and I are so sad to hear the news of our dear friend today. You will be missed terribly. If you or anyone you know needs help, please don’t wait to reach out,” wrote chef and restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson, who posted a photo of himself, his wife and Bourdain.

Patton Oswalt tweeted the number to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, saying “REACH OUT to ANYONE.”

On Twitter, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said Bourdain “traveled the world, but came home to ‘show people that Jersey is still awesome.'”

“Condolences to his family, friends, and everyone who loved to explore parts unknown with him, with no reservations.”

Others noted Bourdain’s strong defense of the #MeToo movement. Argento has accused Harvey Weinstein of rape and after Mario Batali was accused of sexual assault, Bourdain published an essay in Medium in which he wrote that “one must pick a side.”

“I stand unhesitatingly and unwaveringly with the women,” he wrote.

Another Weinstein accuser, actress Rose McGowan, tweeted a video of herself, sobbing.

“Anthony I am so mad at you,” she said. “You were so loved, the world is not better without you. I have a message for those considering suicide as a solution to a temporary problem. Please call a hotline.”

Bourdain’s death comes a day after the New York City medical examiner determined designer Kate Spade’s death earlier this week was a suicide.

Editor’s note: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline number is 1-800-273-8255. You can also learn more and chat with them online by clicking here

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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