In the days leading up to his death, Anthony Bourdain was reportedly in a very dark place. His friends and family were deeply concerned for him as his mood was about as low as it could get. Sadly on the 8th of June, 2018, Bourdain committed suicide while filming Parts Unknown on location in France.
In the wake of his death, Bourdain’s loved ones, companions, and fans have tried their best to piece together what Anthony’s final days were really like.
Join Facts Verse as we discuss how Anthony Bourdain complained about fame in his final days.
Culinary Training And Early Success
Anthony Bourdain developed a deep love for food in his youth, taking family vacations In France.
It was there that he tried his first oyster from a fisherman’s boat.
After graduating from Dwight-Englewood School in Englewood, New Jersey, in 1973, Anthony briefly enrolled at Vassar College but ended up dropping out. While he was still attending the school, however, he worked at seafood restaurants in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
Bourdain then enrolled at The Culinary Institute of America. After graduating in 1978, he went on to run several kitchens in New York City, including Sullivan’s, The Supper Club, and One Fifth Avenue.
In 1998, Anthony became an executive chef at the renowned Brasserie Les Halles. The restaurant was based in Manhattan but had several other locations in DC, Tokyo, and Miami. He worked there for many years as executive chef, and even after he was no longer employed there, he maintained a cordial relationship with the establishment and it’s management team.
In the mid-80s, Bourdain had a piece that he had written about a chef trying to score Heroin in the Lower East Side published in the literary magazine Between C &D. He then signed up for a writing workshop with Gordon Lish. This led to him receiving a small book advance from Random House in 1990.
He published his first book, a culinary mystery entitled Bone in the Throat, in 1995. To promote his book, Bourdain paid for his his own book tour but failed to find success. His second mystery book, Gone Bamboo, likewise failed to sell well.
Undeterred, Bourdain would go on to publish several other books, including the critically acclaimed and best-selling Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly. He went on pen Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook, The Nasty Bits, and Typhoid Mary: An Urban Historical.
As he continued to publish books, Bourdain became more and more well-known throughout the literary and culinary community. His writing’s sales numbers likewise continued to increase as he gained more and more recognition.
In 2002, Bourdain landed his first television series hosting gig with his first show, A Cook’s Tour. The show ran for 35 episodes on the Food Network through 2003. He followed that up with his second show No Reservations, which premiered on the Travel Channel in 2005 and ran until 2012. This would prove to be one of the most popular television series of his TV career.
From 2011 to 2013, Bourdain hosted The Layover, which also aired on the Travel Channel. Each episode of this series featured an exploration of a city that can be undertaken within a 24 to 48-hour layover period.
Bourdain’s final television series, Parts Unknown premiered on CNN in 2012 and aired until his death in 2018. it was during this time that Bourdain expressed frustration with the Travel Channels’ treatment of him in the previous years. He felt as if the network had used his voice and image to make it seem as if he was endorsing a vehicle brand. He never wanted to be seen as a gimmicky salesman, and he deeply resented the fact that those that were pulling the strings behind the scenes didn’t seem to care what his opinion was on the subject.
Parts Unknown ended up being very successful. The program focused on various cultures, cuisines, and politics from all around the work. President Obama even ended up making an appearance on the program in 2016 in an episode about Vietnam.
Before we tell you about Anthony Bourdain’s final days, take a moment to show Facts Verse a little support by giving this video a like and subscribing to the channel.
A New Book Sheds Light On Bourdain’s Final Days
Veteran Journalist Charles Leerhsen is gearing up to release his latest book, Down and Out in Paradise: The Life of Anthony Bourdain. The biography is slated to hit bookshelves and online e-book retailers on October 11, 2022.
The book includes alleged texts Bourdain sent in his final days alive, shedding a ton of light on what his mental state was like in the time leading up to his death. Those texts reveal that Bourdain was in anguish over the state of his career, his estranged marriage, and his failing romantic relationship with actor Asia Argento.
Selections of the upcoming book were recently published in The New York Times.
In one text directed toward his estranged wife, Ottavia Busia-Bourdain, Anthony wrote that he hated his fans, hated being famous, and hated his job. He went on to tell Ottavia, whom he separated from in 2016, that he felt lonely and like he was living in constant uncertainty.
Although the New York Times article doesn’t specifically say that Ottavia provided the texts, given the fact that she controls his state now, that would mean she would also have control over what happens with his text messages.
Perhaps the biggest clue that sheds some light on what Bourdain’s troubled mental state was like at the time that he took his life at that French hotel are his exchanges with Asia Argento.
Leerhsen’s book details the couple’s tumultuous relationship. Both sides, apparently expressed a great deal of discomfort over the fact that social media photos depicted each other with another partner. The photos in question showed Bourdain spending time with his estranged wife and daughter while Argento was pictured with a French reporter in the lobby of Hotel De Russie in Rome.
After seeing the picture of Argento with that French reporter, he texted her that he was okay, wasn’t spiteful, and didn’t feel jealous that she was with another man. He went on to say that he had no ownership over her and that she was free to do what she pleased. That being said, he later lamented that she was careless and reckless with his heart and life.
The Times excerpts went on to show that Bourdain felt hurt that Argento’s tryst took place in a hotel that they had previously enjoyed together. Argento responded to his heartfelt expressions by saying that she ‘couldn’t take this’ and that she could no longer remain in the relationship due to his ‘possessiveness’.
In his final exchange of texts with Argento, Anthony asked the actor if there was anything he could do. Argento replied by telling the celebrity food writer to stop busting her balls. Bourdain replied with a simple ‘Ok’ and just hours later he hung himself in his room.
The Times article discussed how the book has already come under fire from Bourdain’s family, former colleagues, and friends. His brother Christopher Bourdain sent the book’s publisher, Simon and Schuster, two emails back in August calling the book a ‘hurtful and defamatory’ work of fiction.
The publisher responded to Christopher’s concerns by stating that they didn’t believe the book contained any defamatory information and that they stood by their decision to publish it. Argento told the Times that she had yet to read the book and that she had explicitly told it’s author not to publish anything that she had said to him.
Another interesting tidbit included in the book is the claim that Bourdain paid a sum of $380,00 to musician and actor Jimmy Bennett, who claimed that he had a sexual relationship with Argento when she was 37 and he was just 17. According to the book, Bennet had sought $3.5 million in damages.
Whether or not the texts and claims made in the recent Anthony Bourdain book can be verified remains to be seen. Either way, it’s clear that Bourdain was a deeply troubled man who was over being a celebrity by the end of his life. It’s impossible to truly know what was going through his mind in the days leading up to his suicide, but from what we do know, he felt completely trapped by the direction that life had taken him.
If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, please reach out to someone and get help. We’ll include the number to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the description.
If you’ve enjoyed this video, take a moment to give it a like and subscribe to the Facts Verse channel if you haven’t already. While you’re at it, tap the bell to turn on notifications. That way, you can keep up with all of our latest and upcoming videos as soon as they are posted.
As always, thanks for watching. In the comments, let us know what some of your fondest memories of Anthony Bourdain are.