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Anthony Bourdain, celebrity chef and TV host, dies at 61

NBC News logo NBC News 6/8/2018 Erik Ortiz
Image: Anthony Bourdain on Pier 57, where he is planning to open Bourdain Market, in New York.Anthony Bourdain on Pier 57 in New York in 2015. © Provided by NBCU News Group, a division of NBCUniversal Media LLC Image: Anthony Bourdain on Pier 57, where he is planning to open Bourdain Market, in New York.Anthony Bourdain on Pier 57 in New York in 2015.

Anthony Bourdain, the frenetic celebrity chef, author and television personality who took viewers on a culinary journey that fused stories of food with culture, has died, CNN said Friday. He was 61.

The network confirmed suicide was the cause of death.

"His love of great adventure, new friends, fine food and drink and the remarkable stories of the world made him a unique storyteller," the network said in a statement. "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 had been in Strasbourg, France, working on an episode of his Emmy Award-winning CNN series, "Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown." The network said his body was found by French chef and close friend Eric Ripert.

Through his shows, which included the Travel Channel's "No Reservations," Bourdain globe-trotted to more than 80 countries, telling stories that wove local foods, history and his own unflappable charm.

In a blog post for CNN, he once wrote this his favorite food city was Tokyo.

"If I had to eat only in one city for the rest of my life, Tokyo would be it," Bourdain wrote in 2013. "Most chefs I know would agree with me. For those with restless, curious minds, fascinated by layer upon layer of things, flavors, tastes and customs which we will never fully be able to understand, Tokyo is deliciously unknowable."

Bourdain, who was born in New York and grew up in the suburbs of New Jersey, graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 1978. After working in several kitchens, he gained recognition for his 2000 book, "Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly," which described in vivid detail the dark and drug-fueled world behind the scenes of the industry.

That best-selling book grew out of a New Yorker article, "Don't Eat Before Reading This," in which Bourdain spilled his own trade secrets after working his way up from humble dishwasher to celebrated chef in New York.

Bourdain was open about his past as a former heroin addict, and he seemed to revel in his reputation that stripped away a more wholesome image of master chefs in pristine white. The Smithsonian called him "the original rock star, the Elvis of bad boy chefs."

Bourdain's death follows that of another celebrity, fashion designer Kate Spade, who was found dead of suicide this week at age 55.

Federal health officials reported Thursday that suicide rates are up by 30 percent across the nation since 1999, and only about half the people who died by suicide had a known mental health condition.

President Donald Trump said Friday that his "heartfelt condolences" were with Bourdain's family.

"I enjoyed his show," he told reporters. "He was quite a character."

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text TALK to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.

This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

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