Bourdain Bummer: CelebStoner Chef Found Dead in France

Anthony Bourdain: 1956-2018

Anthony Bourdain's dark impulses apparently caught up with him in Kaysersburg, where he reportedly committed suicide on June 8 by haning himself in his hotel room at the five-star Le Chambard.

The veteran TV chef turned journalist was in the Alcase region of France near the Germany border shooting an episdode of Parts Unknown, his award-winning travel show on CNN.

The cable-TV network reported: "It is with extraordinary sadness we can confirm the death of our friend and colleague, Anthony Bourdain. His love of great adventure, new friends, fine food and drink and the remarkable stories of the world made him a unique storyteller. His talents never ceased to amaze us and we will miss him very much. Our thoughts and prayers are with his daughter and family at this incredibly difficult time."

Bourdain, who was 61, had a history of heroin use. In 2013, he admitted on CNN that his "drug of choice for many years was heroin."

On a 2014 episode of Parts Unknown, he opened up about his use: "The first time I shot up I looked at myself in the mirror with a big grin. Something was missing in me, whether it was a self-image situation, whether it was a character flaw…

"There was some dark genie inside me that led me to dope."

"Anybody could find themselves very easily in that situation. I looked in a mirror and I saw somebody worth saving or I wanted to at least try real hard and save. I look back on that and I think about what I'll tell my daughter. That was daddy, no doubt about it. But I hope I'll be able to say that was daddy then, this is daddy now. That I'm alive and living in hope."

It's unclear if heroin was involved in Bourdain's death.

On that same episode, he concluded: "Now that it's really come home to roost, now that it's the high school quarterback, your next door neighbor, your son, your daughter, we'll accept that there's never been a real War on Drugs. War on Drugs implies us versus them. And all over America people are learning there is no them, there is only us, and we're going to have to figure this out together."

Bourdain was born on June 25, 1956 in New York City. He rose to prominence as a chef and author in the '90s. His book-writing career began with the bestseller Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly (2000) and concluded with No Reservations: Around the World on An Empty Stomach (20007).

In Kitchen Confidential, he confided: "We were high all the time, sneaking off to the walk-in refrigerator at every opportunity to 'conceptualize.' Hardly a decision was made without drugs. Cannabis, methaqualone, cocaine, LSD, psilocybin mushrooms soaked in honey and used to sweeten tea, secobarbital, tuinal, amphetamine, codeine and, increasingly, heroin, which we'd send a Spanish-speaking busboy over to Alphabet City to get."

Bourdain's career exploded in 2005 when No Reservations, his first of two popular travel-food shows, debuted on the Travel Channel. He produced 142 episodes from 2005-2012 before moving to CNN and renaming the program Parts Unknown. He did another 89 episodes and won four Emmys for Parts Unknown

No one traveled the world and sampled more food than Anthony Bourdain. 

Some of Bourdain's best episodes were in countries with prevalent drug use. During Season 1 of Parts Unknown in 2013, he visited Morocco, where his hero Williams Burroughs, who wrote Junky and Naked Lunch, once lived. A segment in the episode focused on the making a majoun, a sweet concoction made with hash. 

In Season 4 in 2014, he went to Jamaica and hung out with ganja-smoking Rastas. 

But only since the recent liberalization of marijuana laws in the U.S. and Uruguay did he actually start to smoke pot on screen. Bourdain rolled a joint and lit up on camera for the first time last year during a tour of Seattle. "Washington legalized weed in 2012 and I plan to make the most of it," he declared.

"Next to making a proper omlette or wiping your own ass, rolling a joint is an essential life skill for any self-respecting member of society."

"I've been smoking weed since I was 13," he explained. "All that bad shit that was supposed to happen if you smoked too much weed didn't really happen. But looking at my own life, I can see my ambition. There were things I was thinking of doing, but once I smoked some good weed, I was like, nah."

A little more than a month ago, Bourdain gleefully toked in Uruguay, where cannabis was legalized in 2013. "I'm permitted to smoke weed on camera now," he exclaimed.

"So if I want to open a marijuana hydroponic farm?" Bourdain asked a group of stoners.

"When are we starting it?" one of the guys asked.

"I don't know," Bourdain smiled mischievously. "Let me smoke another joint."

Over the years, his focus was more on international affairs and less on local food, though Bourdain never passed up a good meal or food-cart staple. 

Cable TV will be significantly blander without Bourdain's spicy reportage.

Anthony Bourdain was married and divorced twice and had one daughter. 


Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.