Anthony Bourdain’s Death: What We Know So Far

June 18, 2018

By Karen

In case you’ve been under a rock the past week or so, on Friday morning, June 8, in Le Chambard Hotel in the town of Kayersburg, in Strasbourg, France, while on a shoot for Parts Unknown, Eric Ripert found Anthony Bourdain hanging from the belt of his hotel-supplied bathrobe in the bathroom of his room.

Bourdain’s body was transported to nearby Colmar, where it remained for five days, the typical time to complete French formalities in such situations.

The authorities almost immediately ruled it a suicide, but took urine and blood for a toxicology report.

By Tuesday, June 12, Eric Ripert seemed to be back in New York because he tweeted a landmark there.

On Wednesday, June 13, Bourdain’s body was cremated. He was to be returned to the U.S. on Friday, June 15. This is where the story stops.

But backing up a bit…

On Tuesday, June 5, photos of Bourdain’s girlfriend, Asia Argento, 42, were published online, showing her in Rome on Monday, behaving overly friendly with 28-year-old French reporter Hugo Clement. Hugo had apparently accompanied Asia to the Cannes Film Festival, where on May 19, she took the stage and denounced the festival as Harvey Weinstein’s “hunting ground.”

Bourdain had publicly praised Argento’s courage at Cannes.

More photos of Argento and Hugo dancing and flirting in a restaurant were published by another paparazzi in a restaurant sometime over the weekend immediately prior. This was the same weekend the Hong Kong episode of Parts Unknown, which Bourdain had hired Argento to direct and he considered the pinnacle of his career, was aired in the U.S.

On June 8, three hours before Bourdain’s death was announced, Argento posted a photo of herself on Instagram wearing a T-shirt that said “Fuck Everyone,” with the caption, “You know who you are.” She later deleted it.

Bourdain was not yet divorced from Ottavia, so she is next of kin and Bourdain’s mother Gladys said Ottavia is in charge of all further arrangements.

Now, here’s what we don’t know…

Did Bourdain, a prolific and constant writer, leave a note or anything explaining his mental state?

Who last saw him alive? When was that? What was his demeanor? Did he say anything?

What was the exact time of death? He missed dinner Thursday night and breakfast Friday morning before he was found. That’s a large window of time when it could have happened.

Will results of the toxicology report ever be released?

Was there any communication between him and Argento from June 5 when her photos surfaced and June 8, when he was pronounced dead?

What became of his electronic devices that would most likely have those answers: phone, iPad, laptop? Last we knew of them, they were in a safe in France.

Did he ashes arrive safely back in New York?

Has there been a private funeral?

Will there be a public memorial?

Argento has posted photos and cryptic messages on Instagram, and authorized a bizarre rant in her defense by Rose McGowan. Will those two go any further to claim attention for themselves to capitalize on this tragedy?

AND: Remember the West Virginia episode that opened season 11 of Parts Unknown? Apparently, Bourdain borrowed a miner’s lunch pail for some shooting and forgot it in the mine. That family will never forget Tony. Here’s what happened.

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Bourdain Cremated, Coming Home

June 13, 2018

By Karen

According to People, Anthony Bourdain’s remains were cremated today in France and his ashes will be flown to New York on Friday. There’s no word on whether anyone close to him is in France right now. Eric Ripert was there through the weekend, but he posted a tweet early yesterday morning indicating he was back in New York.

I still haven’t seen any results of the toxicology report. And it would appear that no other testing will be done for underlying illness or cause since the body is now gone.

There’s been no memorial service announced, but I can’t imagine that some celebration of his life won’t happen. Arrangements are in Ottavia’s hands.

Asia Argento and her “spokeswoman” Rose McGowan seem to have gone blessedly silent online about what a victim this has made of Asia, and here’s hoping they remain so.

I’ll share some extras that I or Cats Working readers have found. If you haven’t been following developments in the comments on my posts, these may interest you…

Bourdain’s father Pierre died at age 57 of a heart attack when Tony was 20, and his remains were also cremated and given to someone (presumably to scatter). I would expect Tony to wish the same for himself. Here’s Pierre’s obituary with his photo. See any resemblance?

Zamir Gotta, Tony’s zany Russian friend who accompanied him on a number of adventures over the years, posted a link to a “must read” interview Men’s Journal from the October 2011 print edition. It contains a lot of Bourdain’s philosophy of life, and makes you wonder what changed his attitude about perseverance.

Zamir also wrote his own tribute to Tony for the Hollywood Reporter.

Finally, here’s an almost exhaustive article about his life from the New Yorker. It’s the only one where I’ve ever seen first wife Nancy discuss their marriage (or anything, for that matter). Near the end, it also details how Tony emailed Nancy immediately after he had an earlier health scare while he was traveling alone in France around 2013.

Unless there are new developments, such as a surprise in the toxicology report or some writing Tony left behind that has any bearing, it feels as if we’re finally approaching closure and can be thankful for what little we knew of him, rather than grieve over the loss of what we’ll never know.

The one consolation is that he left behind such a huge body of writing and film to be enjoyed for years to come. Oh, and Netflix decided NOT to remove Parts Unknown from streaming this month as scheduled.


Piecing Together Bourdain’s Last Days, Aftermath

June 10, 2018

By Karen

Although the toxicology report isn’t back yet, the New York Times reports that French authorities have concluded no foul play involved in Anthony Bourdain’s death, and they’re releasing his body so his family can bring him home.

Exactly when Tony killed himself seems unknown. He failed to show up on Thursday night (June 7) for dinner with Eric Ripert as they had been doing all week, but apparently no one checked on him.

When Tony didn’t come down to breakfast Friday morning and didn’t answer his phone, Eric had someone from the hotel let him into Tony’s room, and that’s when he discovered Tony dead. The Times story (link above) says…

“When Mr. Bourdain’s body was found, the hotel staff immediately called the local gendarmerie, which arrived within less than half an hour and sealed off Mr. Bourdain’s hotel room for the day. His belongings were put into a safe, and his body was taken out the backdoor to Colmar, the nearest city, where the local prosecutor opened an investigation.”

Tony is in the Colmar morgue until he can be flown home, and the investigation has apparently been closed.

Page Six reported on how the Parts Unknown crew was busy setting up one of Bourdain’s classic market strolls nearby while Eric was back at the hotel as tragedy unfolded. This story also has a bit more on Tony’s mother Gladys’ reaction.

Four days before his death, Tony and Eric dined in Colmar at Wistub La Petite Venise, where Tony had braised pork knuckle, sauerkraut and sausage, which was the last photo he posted on Instagram. The restaurant has since become a tourist destination, with people wanting to see and sit at the same table.

Citing an unknown source close to Bourdain, Page Six reported that Tony was exhausted in his final months, working like a maniac. This was clearly borne out by his haggard appearance. I wonder if it was just fatigue, or if Tony knew something else was going on with his health, although he seemed to give no indication of that if he did.

And now here’s where it gets really weird. Tony’s girlfriend, Asia Argento, according to People, was apparently Instagramming a lot on Thursday with various stuff. Then about three hours before news broke of Tony’s death, she posted a photo of herself wearing a T-shirt that said “FUCK EVERYONE” and captioned it, “You know who you are.”

That post has since been taken down.

I believe Eric Ripert has remained in France, probably to escort his friend’s body home. I base this on a poignant tweet I saw yesterday from his wife asking him to come home and telling him that he is loved. I feel so sorry for Ripert. He can never unsee what he found in that bathroom. Perhaps once he processes everything, he’ll be willing and able to provide a bit more context.

I haven’t heard from nor seen any statement from Ottavia. I’m sure her hands are more than full with questions and helping daughter Ariane understand and try to get through this. My heart goes out to both of them.

Also no word yet on a funeral or memorial service. If anyone has more facts to add to any of these points, please comment.

AND: Here’s an interview Tony gave People published May 16 where he talked about never retiring and “dying in the saddle.” I thought it was a particularly good piece, and again, it gave no indication that anything sinister was going on with him.


NYT Offers a Bit More Detail on Bourdain’s Death

June 9, 2018

By Karen

I’ve been keeping an eye out, and the New York Times just published an updated obituary with a quote from Anthony Bourdain’s mother, Gladys, who is as much in disbelief as the rest of us that her son was capable of killing himself.

The 10th paragraph is most telling. Gladys mentions that Eric Ripert told her Tony had been in “dark mood” the “past couple of days,” which would coincide with when the Daily Mail published pictures of Asia Argento tooling around Rome looking very chummy with what appeared to be an age-appropriate (to her) French reporter.

Tony was staying at the luxury Le Chambard hotel in Kayserberg, France, when he died.

French authorities are saying they are treating it as a suicide “at this stage.” I don’t know what other stages there could be. He’s gone and we’re all left asking why.

EXTRA: Just found this interview from January with The Guardian. The last paragraph adds a new layer of bizarre to this sad ending.


Bourdain is Moving On

February 22, 2017

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.

bourdain-argento-pagesix-gettyimages

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.


UnFoodie’s Secret Crush on Jacques Pepin

August 25, 2016

By Karen

Before Anthony Bourdain’s new cookbook, Appetites, comes out on October 25, I must confess une affaire du tube with Jacques Pépin. Ironically, Bourdain introduced us with a No Reservations segment where Jacques demonstrated proper egg-cracking technique. At the time, I thought he was cracked.

Then everything changed.

PBS has been rerunning three Pépin series: Essential Pepin, More Fast Food My Way, and Heart & Soul. After just a few episodes, I became obsessed and bought the DVDs and companion cookbooks for the latter two series, and all summer I’ve been studying Jacques like a culinary school groupie.

(Essential Pépin is good, but uses more mis en place and time-skipping, which minimize all that’s really involved. In the other two series, Jacques’ cooking is more down-to-earth. Heart & Soul is my favorite. Alas, it’s said to be his last for PBS.)

On weekends, my mother becomes my sous chef. I send her the recipe so she can shop, then I go over and we watch Jacques make it on DVD before we try it.

So far, every dish has turned out well and my parents enjoyed them.

Every time I see Jacques chop an onion, “poetry in motion” pops into my head. I even bought a good chef’s knife and keep it sharp, but I’ll never come close to his dexterity.

Also thanks to Jacques, I now use herbs de Provence.

Unfortunately, no photos, but here are a few dishes I’ve done. Many recipes are available online.

Poulet à la Crème (chicken thighs elevated)

Gloria’s Linguine with Clam Sauce (loved it!)

Corn Soufflé (practicing for a Thanksgiving side)

Asparagus Fans with Mustard Sauce (finally, green sticks get some personality)

Soda Bread (so quick and easy, I’ve made it perfectly twice)

Not only does Jacques explain what he’s doing, but tells how he economizes, appreciates ordinary ingredients (white button mushrooms, for example), and even uses canned goods without getting snarky about it.

Years ago I learned Chinese cooking from Wok with Yan with Stephen Yan (no, not Martin). I also liked Emeril, but can’t say I soaked up any technique or made his dishes.

And then there’s Bourdain. He was never a celebrity chef, though they keep calling him one. He wasn’t famous at Les Halles, and he quit that job when Kitchen Confidential took off. I’ve seen him cook only a handful of times.

That said, he remains my biggest culinary influence. Just watching what he eats and says about food has opened new worlds. I know what mis en place means. I cook more creatively. I ate squid with ink in Lisbon. And now I appreciate top-tier chefs like Eric Ripert and Jacques Pépin and learn technique from them.

I’ve pre-ordered Bourdain’s book Appetites with expectations it’s more user-friendly than his Les Halles Cookbook and will join my two Pépin cookbooks as favorites.

So, thank you, Tony, for putting Jacques Pépin on my radar. And thank you, Jacques, for enriching home cooks by sharing your amazing knowledge with such charm and generosity.

Pepin


Bourdain Flirts with His Final Frontier

February 12, 2014

By Karen

Anthony Bourdain’s final frontier is ocean travel. Sure, we’ve seen him chugging up fetid rivers, snorkeling, and catch a few stunt fish, but he’s never filmed an hour of TV on the ocean.

At the upcoming South Beach Wine and Food Festival, Anthony Bourdain is hosting “An Evening Aboard the S.S. Wolfsonian” with Azamara Club Cruises on February 21 at the Wolfsonian-FIU Museum. At $1,500 a plate, it’s already sold out, but the proceeds go to the Wolfsonian and the Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, so it’s all for a good cause.

According to Azamara’s press release, this was Bourdain’s idea, and he got inspiration for dishes from the Wolfsonian ocean liner menu collection. He’ll be overseeing the dinner, prepared by Daniel Boulud, Eric Ripert, and other celebrity chefs.

Bourdain will share hosting duties with one of Azamara’s captains.

Didn’t Tony make at least one transatlantic crossing to France as a child, possibly on the Queen Mary? Unfortunately, true ocean liners have passed into history, and in his career as a globe-trotter, I’ve never heard Bourdain be anything but dismissive of today’s cruise industry.

Could that be about to change?

Azamara is a relatively unknown, more upscale brand of Royal Caribbean Cruises. Azamara has only 2 ships, and its sister lines most familiar to Americans are Royal Caribbean and Celebrity.

Azamara ships are smaller, and feature a casually elegant experience, with an English butler’s services available to suite passengers. Fares are higher, yet more inclusive than mass market lines (most alcohol is included), yet not as inclusive as top-tier lines like Crystal and Seabourn, who also throw in airfare and most shore excursions.

It’s far from the first time a cruise line has used a celebrity chef to embellish their brand. Jacques Pépin is executive culinary director for Oceania Cruises, another top-tier line.

Norwegian Cruise Line has adopted Cake Boss Buddy Valastro and Iron Chef Geoffrey Zakarian to design menus for its newest ships, Getaway and Breakaway.

And even Carnival has a celebrity chef — Guy Fieri. He’s perfect for the line that attracts the diners, dives, and drive-in set.

But I don’t see Bourdain planning Azamara’s menus. I see him as their spokesman.

Speaking of Carnival, who could ever forget Kathie Lee Gifford and Richard Simmons dancing on the decks, singing about “Fun Ships?”

If Azamara could get Bourdain to become the face of their more refined brand, he could potentially kick the whole industry’s reputation up a notch (well, not Carnival’s — he’s only human).

Bourdain could help the cruise industry shift the focus away from its ships being floating amusement parks, back to the time when a sea voyage was considered the most special way to visit exotic places.

I could see Royal Caribbean and Norwegian grabbing that life preserver, quickly following suit to distance themselves from the “Do Whatever — We Don’t Care” attitude they’ve foolishly promoted of late, to the detriment of their ships and their reputations.

But Azamara has one big hurdle ahead: They’ve got to get Bourdain on a ship.

I’d love to see a Parts Unknown episode filmed on Azamara. He’s always talking about wanting to make each episode unlike anything he’s ever done before. So…?

Wining and dining Bourdain is a good first move, Azamara. Keep it up.


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