Anthony Bourdain, champion of Vietnamese cuisine, dead at 61
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Anthony Bourdain, champion of Vietnamese cuisine, dead at 61

AMERICAN celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain has died at age 61 in what was an apparent suicide.

CNN reported on Friday that the popular host of its “Parts Unknown” travel cooking show was found dead in a hotel room in France by his close friend, French chef Eric Ripert. He had been working on an upcoming episode of the program.

“It is with extraordinary sadness we can confirm the death of our friend and colleague, Anthony Bourdain,” CNN said in a statement. “His love of great adventure, new friends, fine food and drink and the remarkable stories of the world made him a unique storyteller.”

SEE ALSO: Obama-Bourdain $6 meal forever enshrined at Hanoi restaurant

His 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 of suicide on Tuesday.

A gifted storyteller, Bourdain explored haute cuisine and street food alike in his travels, passionately encouraging viewers to “eat and drink with people without fear and prejudice.”

Bourdain’s profile began to soar in 1999, when the New Yorker magazine published his article “Don’t Eat Before Reading This,” which he developed into the 2000 book, “Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly.”

He went on to host television programs, first on the Food Network and the Travel Channel, before joining CNN in 2013. Bourdain’s celebrity was such that when Obama went to Hanoi, Vietnam in May 2016, he met him at a casual restaurant for a $6 meal of noodles and grilled pork.

“Anthony Bourdain had one of the only shows on tv that tried with all its might to teach Americans not to be scared of other people,” tweeted one netizen.

Writer Jill Filipovic wrote on Twitter that “Bourdain showed us so many corners of the world through food – a nearly universal pleasure that connects us socially, provides an outlet for creativity, and touches our deepest needs to be nurtured. He was the rare traveler who was curious & respectful but never condescending.”

“It can’t be overemphasised. He has a level of authenticity you don’t commonly get with people on TV,” astrophysicist and author Neil deGrasse Tyson said on CNN. “Outside they’re whatever else. He was authentic. You knew that.”

President Donald Trump told reporters as he left the White House that Bourdain’s death was “very shocking.”

SEE ALSO: Vietnam: Obama meets Bourdain again, lands in Ho Chi Minh for 3rd day of visit

“I enjoyed his show, he was quite a character,” Trump added.

The National Suicide Lifeline, which provides telephone services for people experiencing suicidal thoughts, wrote on Twitter: “Please know you are never alone, no matter how dark or lonely things may seem. If you’re struggling, reach out.”

Bourdain leaves behind a teenage daughter Ariane, from his relationship with his ex-wife Ottavia Busia. He had been dating Italian actress Asia Argento since 2017.

Additional reporting from Reuters and AFP.