Bourdain is Moving On

By Karen

Finally catching up on Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown, I watched the Rome episode the other night. Must admit I preferred his highly stylized black-and-white visit on No Reservations, but that’s not to say Parts Unknown is lacking. There has been something in every episode that grabs me in some way.

But what I didn’t catch in Rome was any vibe between Tony and the woman he spent a lot of air time with, Asia Argento. In hindsight, the scene of Tony in a grocery store with Asia and her two kids should have tipped me off. You have to be totally ga-ga about someone to tag along on that chore — with kids.

Anyway, Page Six and People just made it official. They’re an item. “Bourgento”? Asia is 41, Italian, divorced, tatted, and her Wikipedia entry lists her as an “actress, director, singer, model, DJ, writer.” A real Renaissance woman.


Page Six – Getty Images

Did I mention she bears some resemblance to pre-MMA Ottavia?

If Tony’s happy, I’m happy, although I was hoping for someone age-appropriate. But we did see him bounce around after his first marriage with a few unlikely chicks before he fell for Ottavia, so I’ll still hold out hope for Nigella Lawson.

And now that I know he had something going on in Rome, that scene in the London episode of Nigella cooking Tony breakfast takes on new significance. I didn’t rewind to double-check, but was he wearing the same clothes from the night before, or was it my wishful thinking?

On the other hand, knowing how scenes get juxtaposed in the final cut, I’ll give Tony the benefit of the doubt that he and Nigella are still “just good friends.”

Bourdain recently gave an extensive interview to the New Yorker, for which author Patrick Radden Keefe deserves kudos for exhaustive research. (Note: This is the same piece I linked to as a must-read in the comments on an earlier post.)

Keefe gathered input from Nigella, Tony’s buddy Eric Ripert, brother Chris, and a host of others, including Ottavia. But the biggest coup was comments from first wife Nancy, who has been silent and elusive since the Bourdains divorced in 2005. Keefe reveals that Tony wrote to Nancy after he had a health scare while vacationing alone in France.

As always, Bourdain is pursuing myriad projects, including plans for Bourdain Market at Pier 57 in New York City, and popping up everywhere. Also, Bourdain and Ripert teamed with Williams-Sonoma to sell the limited-edition Good & Evil chocolate bar again. I think the price dropped from $18 to $12.95.

We original Cats Working Bourdainiacs have watched Tony achieve a level of fame where he makes the AOL homepage whenever he disses Donald Trump. I’m sharing just a few tidbits that have been highlights for me.

BONUS: Here’s an interesting in-depth analysis by Maria Bustillos for Eater of Bourdain’s three early novels and how they may have reflected the real Bourdain back in the days before his TV fame.

26 Responses to Bourdain is Moving On

  1. L Villeneuve says:

    This new woman seems bright enough, but has had a tortured childhood and still bears those scars. I hope they both find some happiness. Still like Nancy.

  2. Randi says:

    Now I have to go and find the Rome episode! As you mention, Asia does have some resemblance to pre-MMA Ottavia. He seems to go for younger, tattooed black haired women, so I wouldn’t stand a chance! I would have loved to be there when he and Obama had dinner… two men I really like! His new market will surely be a success, because he is so entusiastic and he is not in it for the money – and he loves what he is selling. Good luck to him!

  3. catsworking says:

    Welcome, L Villeneuve! I’ve always felt a little sorry for Nancy. We’re the same age. She never bargained on him finding fame and being gone most of the time, wandering the globe. I think they may have lasted if he could have become a popular writer sans TV. If I remember correctly, she helped him research his biography of Typhoid Mary, and he fictionalized her in a highly complimentary way in his first two novels, Gone Bamboo and Bone in the Throat.

    Randi, Bourdain has always had a thing for the actress Louise Brooks, a brunette who made the bob haircut popular. Ottavia bore a striking resemblance to her, but with an Italian flair.

    Since I watched the latest Rome episode not knowing I was seeing his new squeeze, I must say I felt very sad that he was rattling around the place alone this time. When he filmed there for No Res, Ottavia was in the episode, looking quite glamorous in one scene they did together in a convertible, although she said later she had a bad cold.

    Now that I know about Asia, it’s exactly how he snuck Ottavia onto the radar years ago. He had Ottavia appear as just “some unidentified woman” in a No Res Tuscany episode. That was back when he was trying to keep his public and private lives totally separate and the Cats Working crew was hot on his tail to figure out what he was like off-camera. Very little was being written about him then, and he had time to monitor whatever it was. Ottavia tipped him off what I was gathering and reporting here, and the rest is history. The early archives are brimming with material.

  4. Randi says:

    I watched the Rome episode, and I believe that Asia is the woman he walked through an alley with in the beginning. I’ve checked when she was born… she is a Virgo. From astrologers points of view, they should hit it off. (Btw, did you see the episode in India with the astrologer? I wonder what time of day Tony was born?)
    However, I don’t think he will forget Ottavia just like that, He seemed to enjoy the cooking session with her mom in Italy a lot. I think they will remain friends, and his child certainly means a lot to him! I also think that Nancy still means a lot to him… his first love? They have been through so much together.

  5. catsworking says:

    Randi, I just tried to revisit the Rome episode, but it had already rolled off my deleted list on the DVR, and it’s not available on demand with CNN. I’ll check online. Now that I know what’s going on, I’d like to take another look.

    Assuredly he will stay somewhat close to Ottavia, if only for Ariane’s sake. And I’d guess he’s still welcome with her family in Italy. I think her parents were in the U.S. at the Hamptons in New York with them last August. The Bourdains have rented a house in the Hamptons each August for several years now. Eric Ripert vacations out there as well.

    When Tony’s marriage to Nancy ended, it was because Tony’s life changed drastically. But this time, Ottavia changed. He was already a traveling TV personality when they met, and she was fine with it for several years. But she was young and had to find something of her own beyond just motherhood. She discovered MMA and it still allowed her to give Ariane a stable home base while he was away. And once Ariane was in school and Ottavia was training all day every day, there went their flexibility to travel with Tony, so there you go. They grew apart.

    When Tony was at the Cayman Cookout with Ripert earlier this year, I think I saw a selfie from Ottavia in Miami.

    I vaguely remember Tony with the astrologer in India. I don’t know what time of day he was born.

    I do believe Nancy was the love of his life. They were together about 30 years. I don’t think he ever planned to divorce Nancy until he and Ottavia decided they wanted a child. Ottavia once told me he proposed to her when she was huge with Ariane, but they hadn’t really discussed it before. I feel like somewhere in the back of his mind was the idea that once the fame thing fizzled out, he’d go back to Nancy. Of course, I don’t know what Nancy has been doing all these years.

  6. st says:

    I wonder also what Nancy has been doing, and I wonder what she used to do while they were married. She seemed to do a few jobs while they were married, but what specifically?

  7. morganLf says:

    In his book Medium Raw I think he was very clear. Nancy never worked. Beyond a short stint early on. He said she wouldn’t or couldn’t work and it irked him. She seems to have had his drug issues yet he worked. He made the Drugstore Cowboy analogy in that book and here word for word, under the pseudonym bobsyouruncle. He said it was a co dependant relationship. Her not working and” sea lawyering “through housing courts when they were were on the brink of getting evicted several times made me think the laziness finally blew it for him.
    How odd post Ottavia he reached out to her.
    I’ve seen them up close and to be frank thought Tony and Ottavia were beyond solid.

    But when your a nice looking, famous dude trim is everywhere. Tony ain’t no saint..

  8. catsworking says:

    I found the Rome episode on YouTube and watched it again. Asia is everywhere, and absolutely the one walking through the alley with him in the first scene. They were undoubtedly on a date at the boxing match because there’s this tiny little second where she looks at him as if she’s uncertain about how friendly she should appear. Her son’s easy familiarity with “Tony” at dinner indicated to me that Bourdain had been hanging around a while.

    I also found this article describing how he and Asia holed up in a hotel together in Rome for 4 nights earlier this month, and the paparazzi caught them smooching in the street.

    If you didn’t know better, it looks like he’s kissing Ottavia. I still feel a pang of sadness to see it.

    Morgan, we met Ottavia before MMA changed her from a nurturing earth-mother type into a killing machine. They both joke that Bourdain married Sophia Loren but ended up with Jean-Claude Van Damme, and that does about sum it up. Once she became totally immersed, it may have killed whatever shreds of normality they had. They both devote the lion’s share of their time to divergent careers. He’s said they’ve lived separate lives for “years,” which would coincide with her growing MMA passion.

    I’m not faulting anybody here. If anything, I’m thankful that they maturely agreed it wasn’t working and decided to give each other maximum space, instead of running around secretly cheating on each other. I feel sure they’ll always be good friends and Ariane will never feel forced to choose loyalties.

    st, Bourdain does lay out his marriage to Nancy in a few pages of Medium Raw, the only time he’s ever really written about the divorce or said anything remotely negative about her. His frustration with her not working seemed to be a long-simmering thing, given their hand-to-mouth existence on his paycheck alone. But it was his travel and growing fame that eventually put the lid on it. She just wasn’t into it.

  9. Randi says:

    Thanks for the link, Karen, I too noticed Asia’s son speaking to Anthony as if they were quite familiar. So probably not the first time they met.

    Oh, those four days in Rome… I feel a pang of jealousy! I checked those restaurants – don’t look bad at all – not to mention the hotel they stayed in.

    I’m glad Ottavia and him can still be civilized and their child won’t be forced to choose between them. 🙂 They’ll both be okay, I’m sure.

  10. catsworking says:

    Would you believe, as I was almost finished typing this comment, Adele stepped on the keyboard and wiped it out. So here I go again. Where was I…

    Any woman who catches his eye these days is in for the experience of a lifetime, and even some good food!

    This whole development has given me such a sense of deja vu. We’ve been here with him before. After he split from Nancy, he had a couple of girlfriends before the Riperts introduced him to Ottavia and he calmed down. With luck, having a daughter to answer to this time will keep him grounded. Although I wonder how you explain to a 9-year-old that Dad is flying to Italy for 4 days to shack up with a lady who looks suspiciously like Mommy. That he gravitated to another Italian right out of the gate is so “La Dolce Vita.” But I suspect he now finds American women boring.

    He’s entitled to have some fun. Nancy said he’s a romantic, and I believe that. Once he found himself sleeping with Jean-Claude Van Damme, romance may have been what he missed most, and strolling the streets of Rome with a beautiful young woman is just what he needed.

  11. Randi says:

    Ha ha, that’s typical cats! My Fister, who was also an orange, did the same. Wish I could show you some pics of him. He lived to be almost 17. Well, if you join Pet Talk, there are pics and stories of him there. He was Cat of the Day on August 31st. 2002. You should nominate yours!
    When I first joined your blog, it was because I was searching for info on Anthony Bourdain – I had seen a few of his shows… “The Layover” and some of “No Reservations.” He reminds me in many ways of my late husband, also a Cancer.
    I’m sure you’re right, having a daugter will keep him grounded. If Nancy said he is a romantic, I belive that, too – he just wants to appear tough to the public. 😉
    Concerning his new romance with Asia, I’m sure he is having a great time now, but we’ll see how long it lasts.
    Well, I hope his upcoming market will be a success, because I think he needs to be engaged in something, or he’ll get so bored!

  12. catsworking says:

    Adele will be 17 in April, and so far, so good. Knock on wood.

    Bourdain is now involved in so many productions and book publishing, in addition to hismshows, it’s hard to keep up. Any woman with young children will find it impossible to keep up, but be doomed to a lot of sitting at home alone, waiting. It’s great that he has found a new love, but I somehow don’t see this one as more than a fling. We’ll see.

  13. Randi says:

    I hope Adele will be fine for quite some time, yet! Keep an eye on her kidney levels, older cats tend to get kidney problems. I’m sending my best wishes and headbumps to her. 🙂

    Bourdain was interviewed some time ago… can’t remember by who. Part of it was about politics, here are a few of the questions and answers.

    “Bourdain on Trump;

    The big platform that kicked all this off for him, his comments about Mexican immigrants, intersects so directly with your vocal championship of Mexican restaurant labor

    He has a vineyard in, is it Virginia? I think a very interesting project would be to see who’s picking his grapes.

    Do you think he’s actually going to make moves toward deporting people?

    I think it’s going to be hard times. Is he gonna do anything near what he promised? Of course not. But he will be forced to do something, by the people around him. He will have to do something, and it will be extraordinarily ugly.

    Do you think they know they’re evil?

    Giuliani does. People have been telling him since the beginning of his career. But I’m sure he knows.”

    One thing I’m a little disappointed about, is that he doesn’t mind guns. I really don’t believe everyone should be allowed to walk around with a deadly weapon, since background checks aren’t working very well. But I guess that’s a discussion for somewhere else.

  14. morganLf says:

    I am anti gun too and I have always disagreed Nancy had anything to do with the end of their marriage because she didn’t want travel or spotlight rather I am sure it was the drugs and as he got famous there were women everywhere why get saddled with the albatross, who wouldn’t work. Yeah yeah she typed a manuscript what about the othe 19’years? She got old he moved on. Now he’s done it again. Let’s not paint any picture other than what it is. He never had kids with Nancy that doesn’t sound like love of his life. The fact that she even has contact after he publicly shamed her clearly states he was the love of her life. Not the other way round. Remember she older than him

  15. Randi says:

    I tend to agree that the drugs had a lot to do with them splitting up – it must have been hell at times. Because of his good looks, charming personality, and stamina concerning work, he made it. Later, he even stopped smoking – and it all boosted his confidence. I think what he needs, is a strong woman who is not too dependent on him, but lets him do his own thing AND support his “crazy” projects.

  16. catsworking says:

    The last time Adele had her blood work done, the vet said it was the best she’d seen in a long time in a cat, let alone an elderly cat. Adele has a problem with runny eyes that’s been with her since she was 5, and not even her eye specialist seems to be able to help her. He just keeps saying, “This is more common in dogs.” Other than that, she doesn’t miss a beat.

    Trump does own a winery in Virginia, as part of an estate he bought. I think it was during the campaign he claimed it was the biggest or most successful winery on the East Coast, a lie so whopping it blows your mind. It’s actually a relatively minor player. One of his sons now runs it. Recently, customers asked Wegman’s, the new grocer in town, to stop selling Trump wine in its stores here. Wegman’s refused, and the wine quickly sold out, thanks to backlash from Trump lovers.

  17. catsworking says:

    Morgan, ever the pragmatic Jersey girl, keeping us grounded. 😉

    Remember, Bourdain wrote 3 books (the 2 novels and Kitchen Confidential) before he ever got the first whiff of minor fame on Food Network. I think Nancy said in that Vanity Fair piece that he took a writing course and really got into it. To knock out 3 books while working full-time, he had to clean up his act with drugs. Nancy had nothing compelling her to do likewise. So, if she was still using, I’d agree that as he gained notoriety she could have become an embarrassment. But if you recall him in the Malaysia episode of No Reservations, which he did right after their breakup, he was quite depressed.

    I don’t think they had any kids because they knew they’d be lousy parents and it would screw up their druggie lifestyle. Thank God they didn’t.

    Randi, in the last sentence of your comment, you described Ottavia in the early days to a T. She is a strong woman who gave him free rein to do this thing while she kept the home fires burning. But when she found MMA, it all changed. She still maintained their home, but her focus was no longer on him, and he probably started feeling like an afterthought whenever he was home. He even took up MMA to have something in common with her again. I just read somewhere that she now wants to climb Mt. Everest. I have no doubt she’d succeed.

    I predict he’ll continue to finance Ottavia through a black belt or whatever cred she needs to open a school. Then he’ll finance the school and set her up to become self-sufficient. By then, Ariane will be well into her teens and everybody can go their separate ways.

  18. L Villeneuve says:

    Why would he start a long distance relationship?

  19. catsworking says:

    Good question. I will be surprised if this turns out to be more than a fling. She’s got two kids in school and she’s apparently a celebrity in her own right in Italy.

    It’s not practical for him to move to there, although he’s said he’d like to retire there (albeit to the country, not somewhere like Rome). His daughter’s roots are U.S., and so are all his business interests, including the budding Bourdain Market.

  20. morganLf says:

    Don’t assign such romantic notions to Tony. He has an image to protect. Oh he was sooo depressed going to whorehouses on some island driving fast around hairpin turns, getting drunk and diving off cliffs in a death wish as he mentions in his book. Oh spare me! If he wanted to kill himself he would have.

    So he resorts to the purplest of prose about how sad and painful the breakup was so we all won’t hate him. He has ratings to get and books to sell. Pragmatic? Maybe.
    I don’t like him any less will still be a fan. But it’s two wives he’s taken a hike on now. He seems not to be overly impressed with traditional beauty. All the women are the same. Initial impression badass. I don’t think it’s a fling with this one Tony needs to be in a relationship. Early posters on this blog that “knew” him said as much.
    Ottavia was ALWAYS into training. He spoke of her enthusiasm very early on; her immersion into BJJ was not the crack in the relationship, if so why has he become such an enthusiast? They actually have that in common.
    On the road lots of diversions ..has to travel for work blah, blah, blah. She let him off the hook with no drama. But the separate life thing was not a drifting. There was a break. I’m not saying they are not still close..but until 2011-2012 they were inseparable. Always together. She traveled with him she went to his events. Then boom.
    You tend to romanticize Tony rationalizing his relationships.He got famous and rich by being smart and a very hard worker and prolific writer and easy on the eyes. Ardor cools. Time moves on. But I bet it’s fun while it’s on.

  21. catsworking says:

    Morgan, we’re going to have to agree to disagree on this one to a point. Ottavia was a total girly girl when we met her. She told me that she was NOT going back into MMA after the baby because, at 28, she felt she was getting too old and didn’t want to get hurt because she was a mother. I was frankly surprised when all that changed.

    I do believe he loved her and still does. But she’s like a guy now, and he obviously still wants a woman. I think him getting into MMA was a last-ditch effort to relate to her lifestyle (because you have to be nuts to take that punishment at his age), but then he was pleasantly surprised by how it got him in shape.

    I don’t think he has been sleeping around on the road during this marriage because he’s a dad and Ariane’s approval means everything to him. The Internet is too gossipy. He waited until she might be old enough to sort of understand what’s going on.

    It’s sad that at almost 61 he’s out there looking for love again. I didn’t see that coming. His thing with Asia is a “relationship” until the logistics take their toll. That she is very much like what Ottavia could have been at 41 if she hadn’t embraced MMA is what makes me think he misses what he had.

    I guess I am more of a sucker for taking what he writes about himself at face value. I don’t think he’s being dishonest. But you know Jersey guys far better than I do. 😉

  22. morganLf says:


  23. Randi says:

    Last week, I saw part of an interview on TV with Anthony Bourdain. They talked about a new show coming, not sure which, but Laos was mentioned. Could this be true? Is he still planning to open that market in New York?

  24. catsworking says:

    I’m not sure if Laos is on the schedule for this season of Parts Unknown on CNN. I tend to collect them on the DVR and then binge watch.

    Bourdain Market is still in the works, although not as far along as we expected. Jose Andres is also planning a big new international (or Spanish?) market in the vicinity that may open first.

    As far as another show, he has so much going on with things he’s producing and narrating, I’m not aure what that might be.

    He does have new documentary out about Chef Jeremiah Tower. I think it’s called The Last Magnificent. I despair that it will ever reach Richmond, Va.

  25. Morganlf says:

    Wow…did I get that wrong! See my post about “ if he wanted to kill himself he would have” .
    He did and found just the perfect catalyst in Asia.

    She was aware and reveled in her power, then used it.

    Skank. Ditch pig, dark, damaged goods. She found a perfect mark.

    Why didn’t he know how loved he was?

  26. Morganlf says:

    But boy did I get it right…on the March 4 th post. As Karen knows I have always maintained HE split from Ottavia and although she disagreed with me then, she most emphatically now agrees, in fact knows my instinct was true.
    As are my instincts about Nancy.

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