Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Anthony Bourdain found dead at 61


Anthony Bourdain

NEW YORK-Celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain has taken his own life, according to the television network CNN for which Bourdain took viewers around the world for the "Parts Unknown" series. He was 61.

CNN said Bourdain was in Strasbourg filming an upcoming segment in the series.

It said that Bourdain was found unresponsive Friday morning by friend and chef Eric Ripert. It called his death a suicide.

"It is with extraordinary sadness we can confirm the death of our friend and colleague, Anthony Bourdain," the network said in a statement early Friday about the longtime food critic, who revealed his Jewish heritage during a 2013 visit to Israel.

"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."

Chefs, fans and US President Donald Trump were among those stunned and saddened by the news. "I want to extend to his family my heartfelt condolences," Trump said.

Bourdain's death drew new attention to celebrity suicides. It came three days after fashion designer Kate Spade died of apparent suicide in her Park Avenue apartment in New York. Spade's husband and business partner said the 55-year-old business mogul had suffered from depression and anxiety for many years.

On the network, anchors struggled to hold back tears as they recalled their late colleague in heartfelt recollections and urged people faced with despair, or who know people who are struggling with depression, to call a suicide hotline.

Bourdain was Jewish. His mother Gladys (née Sacksman) was an editor at The New York Times. His father was Catholic, and Bourdain said he did not have a religious upbringing.

In a 2013 episode of his show, Bourdain took viewers to Jerusalem, Gaza, and the West Bank.

Focusing on what he called "the most contentious piece of real estate in the world," Bourdain used the episode to reveal his own Jewish heritage: "I've never been in a synagogue. I don't believe in a higher power," he told viewers. "But that doesn't make me any less Jewish, I don't think."

During the show, Bourdain puts on tefillin by the Western Wall, takes a walking tour of the Old City with famed international chef Yotam Ottolenghi, eats a meal with an American-born settler, chats with members of the first all-Palestinian race car team in Ramallah, and eats fire-roasted watermelon and other Palestinian foods in Gaza.

Anthony Bourdain at the Western Wall.

Bourdain notes at the episode's onset that he "doesn't know what to think" of Israel. "It is incredibly beautiful here," Bourdain observes at one point. "I don't know why I didn't expect that."

Although Bourdain had never been to Israel prior to making that episode, he was no stranger to the Middle East, or to politically rocky terrain. When he went to Lebanon in July 2006 to film an episode of his previous show, the Travel Channel's "No Reservations," he found himself in the middle of a regional conflict-the Second Lebanon War-as the Jewish state retaliated against a Hezbollah attack in northern Israel.

Bourdain watched from his hotel balcony as Israel destroyed the Beirut airport-in part to prevent the delivery of arms-which left him stranded in a war zone.


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