RICHMOND, Va. — Anthony Bourdain, 61, was found unresponsive in his hotel by his longtime friend, Eric Ripert on Friday morning sending shock waves through the nation. Bourdain rose to international fame after writing a New Yorker article in 1999. The title: “Don’t Eat Before Reading This.” The article morphed into a best-selling book in 2000, “Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly.”
The sadness is profound in our own local dining scene and writing scene.
I, for one, feel as though I grew up with Bourdain. His point of view from behind-the-scenes and in the trenches was oddly comforting. It made me feel like loving food and the wanting to be around food and everyone who is part of a food community was normal — and, even more impactful, that it was OK to voice an opinion on that love of the community.
Anthony Bourdain’s writing is a reminder of how to express yourself clearly, boldly and from your authentic point of view. He held your attention with colorful tales, and expressed his thoughts on food, other chefs and the industry both irreverently and romantically.
Jason Roop, former Editor-in-Chief, Style Weekly
Kitchens have been the crucible that my most rewarding adult relationships have been forged out of, but we all need to acknowledge that the same heat/stress/hours that can build amazing friendships also can be what breaks someone. We need to take care of each other.
Bobo Catoe, Southbound
I just think it’s incredibly sad. He is someone that helped make being a chef an acceptable job and career path. He helped show us the world, like him or not, he was so very polarizing. What a loss. I just can’t get over how upset I am by it more than anything. I don’t think I realized how much I felt like he was a part of my life? Like we were friends? On the same trip in some since. I’ve never really been shocked to the core by celebrity deaths. It just hits closer to home I suppose.
Lee Gregory, The Roosevelt and Alewife
We all have our own demons, sometimes they get us ——-sometimes they don’t, [it’s] horrible news. He was a huge figure for the industry and inspired a ton of people, a real person [who inspired].
Andrew Manning, Longoven
I always felt like he was the one celebrity food person who really “got it.” His books inspired me to become a chef and his shows inspired me to try and be a better citizen of the world. I walked into my kitchen today and there was not one cook or front of house person alike who wasn’t terribly saddened by his passing. He really was a leader of our industry and felt like one of us, a line cook who changed the world.
Brittanny Anderson, Brenner Pass and Metzger Bar and Butchery
This was the first time in my life a celebrity’s death truly impacted me. I’m still trying to process it all. It was a huge shock to me this morning. Like others have said, he was a king to us, and gave credibility to this job. This one hurts.
Adam Hall, Saison
He was my idol. He changed the way I eat, the way I travel, write, speak…he changed the way people see the world. I’m a better person because of Anthony Bourdain. I know it’s stupid to get upset over a celeb’s death and I never had until now, but this one hits hard. He just felt like a normal person. Like a friend.
Jack Lauterback, 103.7 Play Morning Show Host and Columnist, Style Weekly
I am heartbroken and concerned, not only because Anthony had friends in his industry that he could not share his thoughts with…. I have friends, chefs, who worry me. I am constantly wondering “What if I miss the signs? What if they are trying to tell me something?” It is devastating. The thing about suicide is you simply may never know how a person reaches that conclusion. I am a very cut and dry person but suicide is everything but that. It is a very lonely road that I fear I could be overlooking with my friends.
Shola Belle, Mahogany Sweets
I read Anthony Bourdain’s book when I was transitioning from being a cook to a journalist, and I have always rooted for him as his media career flourished. I consider myself well-traveled, though nowhere near his level. But what I saw was a person who experienced the world the way I try to, take the alternative routes, find the interesting places and have a beer with the people who call them home and understand the culture. And he had the gift of language to present the world to us in a way that provoked us to get up and go explore. I always thought that if I could do what he was doing, it would be the pinnacle of my career. I’m rattled when I realize that a feeling of discontent still ate away at him – no matter if I thought he had it made. It leaves me grappling with questions and sadness that someone so authentic is gone. The very least we can do is promise ourselves to harness his spirit and swagger.
Alix Bryan, CBS 6
As a reporter, writer and interviewer, I totally admired Anthony Bourdain.
As an amateur foodie, wannabe chef and wanderer/adventurer, I hungered to be more like him. One of the coolest guys ever.
But as someone with friends and loved ones struggling with heroin/opioid addiction, I absolutely loved this man for being a beacon of hope, for being open about his past and sort of wearing it on his craggy face.
Yes, I’m angry that he ended his great story of hope this way.
I’m guessing he fought this demon every day, thought about doing this thousands of times. High flyers are like that sometimes.
So very, very sorry.
Mark Holmberg, CBS 6, Richmond Times Dispatch
If you feel extreme distress, you can call 1-800-273-8255, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, to speak with someone who will provide free and confidential support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you want to learn how to help someone in crisis, you can call the same number.