Page Six Reports the Bourdains Have Separated

By Karen

Late yesterday afternoon I got one of those shocks that feels like an elevator going into a sudden plunge when I read this Page Six article announcing that Anthony Bourdain and his wife Ottavia have been separated for some time.

I’d noticed Ottavia seemed scarce on Twitter. And Tony didn’t wear his wedding ring through most of Parts Unknown last season, but I told myself it was all jiu-jitsu-related.

Today, their separation is all over the media. MSN, E! Online, Us Weekly, even the Daily Mail in the UK. But they all just repeat Page Six without additional detail.

Thinking back, I don’t know the exact date I first discovered Anthony Bourdain, but I stumbled upon an early No Reservations on Travel Channel one night and was instantly charmed by his looks and wit.

I had no clue he was a writer until I found A Cook’s Tour at a remaindered book sale. On its cover I learned Kitchen Confidential had been a bestseller. I’ve been in hot pursuit of every book he’s published and have read them all to date. And seen every episode of his four travel series (A Cook’s Tour, No Reservations, The Layover, Parts Unknown). And his lamentable cooking competition, The Taste.

My first dedicated post in Cats Working on him was about his 2007 No Res Christmas special. It’s apparent I knew quite a bit by then, and Ottavia was intriguing me. I finally found her in February 2008. Thus began my regular chronicle of the Bourdains, which led to several personal encounters, most recently when he came to Richmond in 2013.

But sites like Eater and Grub Street began stealing my thunder and getting all the best scoop straight from Bourdain himself, so I stepped back. But I never lost interest.

I will declare with no reservations that Cats Working pioneered coverage of Anthony Bourdain before anyone else was paying much attention. If you search the archives, you’ll find a ton of his history, professional and personal.

I will try to learn more on this unfortunate development, but this post will give any Cats Working die-hard Bourdainiacs a place to comment. Tony has written about being at loose ends before he met Ottavia. This split, real or not, is no picnic for them, so please be kind.

Tony did appear to be alone on the red carpet at the recent Creative Arts Emmy Awards, where Parts Unknown won its fourth consecutive Emmy for Outstanding Informational Series or Special.


The show was also nominated for Cinematography (Cuba), Sound Editing (Okinawa), and Sound Mixing (Ethiopia).

Bourdain was nominated once again for Outstanding Writing for a Nonfiction Program (Borneo), but lost to a Netflix show, Making a Murderer.

11 Responses to Page Six Reports the Bourdains Have Separated

  1. MorganLF says:

    Well I guess we romanticized the marriage, bad boy makes good and all that. Plus they have been kind to us Cats fangals, so I confess to being bummed for them. But I am sure they will remain on good terms. Ottavia seems above all that acrimony and Tony seems to be a genuinely proud “dada”. But who am I to speculate. I find the comment “unconventional marriage” to be very curious, so I am standing by for more. I figure you will get it right Karen since the press will now be focused on the Brad/Angelina split just announced today.

  2. catsworking says:

    WHAT???!!! Brad and Angelina split?? I was so engrossed in working on this post, I haven’t checked the news today.

    Morgan, we’ve seen the Bourdains together with our own eyes. Granted, it was in the early days when Ariane was a baby and before Ottavia got into MMA, but they were the perfect match. I am so, so sad that things have taken this turn.

    I don’t know if/when we’ll learn more. If Tony’s true to form, he’ll be mum. He’d certainly never bash the mother of his child, and I’m not saying she deserves it in any way. She’s been holding down the fort and raising their child while he’s spent a reported 250 days a year on the road. That may be the crux of it. Not enough time together.

    Back in 2008, I briefly dated a travelholic I met when he was a dance host on the QM2. He was tall, lanky, and about Bourdain’s age now. We spent a few weekends together over the next month or two, and out of nowhere he dumped me on a postcard from England. His schtick was traveling, as widely and cheaply as possible. His “home” was a dumpy little apartment in NJ. He was a pure travel addict and nobody was going to change that.

    I think Bourdain has the same condition. I was surprised he’s doing another speaking tour in October. With all he’s got going on and all his income streams, why? Because he has to be on the road. He can’t stop.

  3. T says:

    Great post, Karen! I worry about Tony. Remember how he was so upset after breaking up with Nancy? Does it seem like he’s better adjusted this time (second divorce, after all)? Still, it can’t be easy, especially with a daughter involved.

  4. Bacardi1 says:

    As a long-time Bourdain fan/follower (from the very beginning), I too was shocked at this development, especially coming on the heels of discovering that Tony’s food buddy Michael Ruhlman also recently divorced from his wife of 25 years. Already reeling from that, my hubby sent me into a tailspin the other night by rattling off the Bourdain news right before bed, forcing me to get up, turn on the computer, & read it all for myself. Otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to sleep – lol!!

    No one apart from the participants really knows what makes people take these drastic life-changing steps, but rarely is it done without a lot of forethought, soul-searching, & pain. One can only hope that the parties involved continue to be kind & decent to each other, for themselves as well as for any children involved.

  5. catsworking says:

    Now that we’re past the initial shock of this, it’s time to go back and parse Ottavia’s statement a bit more closely…

    “Because of professional decisions we both have made, my husband and I have been for years in an unconventional relationship. Nothing has changed. We love each other. We respect the decisions the other has made. And we’ll always consider ourselves a family.”

    She doesn’t mention divorce, but says they love each other and nothing has changed. They’ve made professional decisions (she’s into MMA, he’s into travel – they hardly mesh) that are taking them in different directions. But she says it’s always been an “unconventional relationship.” He’s been on the road while she held down the fort, raising a child. She’s too bright to settle for being a housewife to an absentee husband, so MMA filled the void, and it’s become her bona fide career.

    My opinion is that this announcement of a big split may be overblown. If Brangelina had hit the news first, it might never have even come up.

  6. Stillmisseszappa says:

    “Unconventional relationship” suggests to me that one of them is considering a sex change. Forgive me,gender reassignment.

  7. catsworking says:

    Long time no see! Welcome back, Zappa’s Mom!! We lost Cole in the past year to kidney failure, and now have a new member, Roc, who turned a year old this month. He’s a handful and then some.

    “Unconventional” can mean a lot of things. If anyone’s switching gender, it’s Ottavia. She’s become so muscular, it wouldn’t surprise me if she could grow a beard.

    I really can’t picture Antonia Bourdain in a silk bustier on the cover of Vogue.

  8. Stillmisseszappa says:

    Caitlin Jenner would be furious if AB got a Vogue cover first’

  9. catsworking says:

    Hahaha! I just looked it up. I thought Caitlin was on Vogue, but she was on Vanity Fair!

  10. Mary H. says:

    Waaaaaa!!!! I just found out about Michael Ruhlmann, and now Tony and Ottavia! I also found Catsworking through a Bourdain search many years ago. You always had the best info.

    I remember the show where they were in Italy together and just seemed to really be enjoying each other’s company. A sad day, but glad I heard about it here first.

  11. catsworking says:

    On the old No Reservations, I can think of at least 2 Italian shows in which she appeared. One was in Tuscany where she was sort of lumped in as crew. I think she had just delivered Ariane. And there was another one that featured her whole family. I want to say it was in Sardinia, but I’m not certain of that. Good times. But I guess people change.

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