Skip to Content

R.I.P. Anthony Bourdain ~ Chef Who Brought ‘Parts Unknown’ to the World Dead at 61

9:53 AM PDT on June 8, 2018

[dropcap size=big]A[/dropcap]nthony Bourdain, the rock-star chef, author, and television host who vigorously defended Latin culture, immigrant cooks, and food-service workers, has died at the age of 61.

Bourdain was found unresponsive Friday on location in France during a shoot for his popular program "Parts Unknown," CNN reported. The cause of death was suicide, the broadcaster said.

The New York-born chef upended the food world with a 1999 New Yorker confessional story titled "Don't Eat Before Reading This." The following year, his tell-all book "Kitchen Confidential" became a best-seller and cemented Bourdain's status as the original bad-boy of the modern restaurant business.

In his New Yorker piece, Bourdain tore away at the myths of clean cooking in restaurants and the ugly realities of a business fueled by competition, pride, and in many cases, addiction. He describes the thinking behind not ordering fish on a Monday night:

The fish specialty is reasonably priced, and the place got two stars in the Times. Why not go for it? If you like four-day-old fish, be my guest. Here’s how things usually work. The chef orders his seafood for the weekend on Thursday night. It arrives on Friday morning. He’s hoping to sell the bulk of it on Friday and Saturday nights, when he knows that the restaurant will be busy, and he’d like to run out of the last few orders by Sunday evening. Many fish purveyors don’t deliver on Saturday, so the chances are that the Monday-night tuna you want has been kicking around in the kitchen since Friday morning, under God knows what conditions. 

The piece rocked the food world. But it was as a cool-as-ice food-show host that Bourdain's flair for the unusual and the mundane truly sparkled. Bourdain traveled the world, to countries frequently left off major tourism maps or suffering from decades of conflict or poverty. He started on The Food Network, then stopped at The Travel Channel with "No Reservations", then in 2013 launched "Parts Unknown" on CNN.

'Just about every time I walked into a new kitchen, it was a Mexican guy who looked after me.'

Tony or "Toño" Bourdain embodied the sort of journalist or storyteller who treated every single culture equally and valuable of study and appreciation. The chef always found ways to stand up for taco trucks, immigrants, for Mexico, and for working-class chefs and cooks of every stripe. In a now-famous Tumblr post, Bourdain highlighted the hypocrisy of Americans "loving" Mexican food but hating on Mexican people.

"It’s a country I feel particularly attached to and grateful for," Bourdain wrote. "In nearly 30 years of cooking professionally, just about every time I walked into a new kitchen, it was a Mexican guy who looked after me, had my back, showed me what was what."

Bourdain shot segments for his television series across the regions of Mexico, as well as in Peru, Nicaragua, Colombia, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Ecuador, Cuba, Brazil, Uruguay, across Los Angeles, and in dozens of other locations.

[This story has been updated]

Tuve que revisar lo de Bourdain en varias fuentes para creerlo.Hay muchas cosas sobre él que me gustaban, pero en particular su capacidad de exponer la hipocresía de EEUU en sus indistrias restaurantera y hotelera.

— Eileen Truax (@EileenTruax) June 8, 2018

* Check back for more updates.

** If you or someone you know is in need of help or counseling, THERE IS HELP NEARBY. Pick up the phone and call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or chat online with someone hereYou are not alone.

Already a user?Log in

Thanks for reading!

Register to continue

Become a Member

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from L.A. TACO

Spot Check: Colombian Desgranados In Echo Park, Mexican Wine Festival At Mírate, and Perverted Waffles in DTLA

Plus, a party highlighting pan-African cuisine, a new Taiwanese cookbook by an awarded local from the San Gabriel Valley, and a Little Saigon food festival that starts tonight! Welcome back to Spot Check!

September 22, 2023

This 24-Year-Old Latina Mortician Beautifies the Dead and Influences the Living

Growing up in Arleta with a first-generation family from El Salvador, Berrios admits that her family only embraced her career choice two years ago, after she started to win awards like “Young Funeral Director of the Year.” The 24-year-old works as the licenced funeral director and embalmer at Hollywood Forever cemetery. As a young person born in peak Generation Z, she's documented her deathcare journey on TikTok and has accrued more than 43K followers on the platform. 

September 21, 2023

Meet ‘Carnitas Rogelio,’ The Family-Run Stand With The Best Michoacán-Style Carnitas O.C. Has to Offer

Michoacán-raised Rogelio Gonzalez slices the cuerito (the pig skin) in a checkered pattern to ensure a light crunch in each bite and utilizes every part of the pig, from the feet to the liver and intestines, which he binds together in a braid. 

September 20, 2023

‘The Office’ Star Rainn Wilson Brought Jerk Chicken Tacos to the Picket Lines Outside of Paramount Studios

In three hours, D's Tipsy Tacos and her team passed out “roughly 100 plates” of tacos, burritos, rice, beans, nachos, and quesadillas to striking screenwriters and actors.

September 19, 2023

Five Common Plants to Avoid When Creating Your Green Spaces in L.A.

Almost every time I visit a property with landscaping issues, the problem starts with bad design: the wrong plants in the wrong place. Here's advice from a third-generation L.A. landscaper and noted taco expert.

September 19, 2023
See all posts