Anthony Bourdain was an open book. The TV personality, who died at age 61 from an apparent suicide on Friday, June 8, reflected upon his life, career and past drug abuse in one of his final interviews.
“I feel free of the nonsense honestly. I don’t have a lot of regrets in my life,” Bourdain told First We Feast in June 2016 ahead of his 60th birthday. “Turning 50 was a good year for me, a f–k of a lot better than turning 17. … I’m pretty happy being a distinguished motherf–ker. The extent to which I’m free of expectations, you know, I enjoy that. The extent to which I can glide through life unnoticed is nice, too. It’s freeing.”
The Parts Unknown host also opened up about how working long hours can affect the physical and mental health of chefs.
“Restaurant life is not good for you. It’s not a healthy workplace for chefs. People are talking about it now,” Bourdain, who first found fame as an outspoken chef, told the website at the time. “How do I prolong my work life, as a leader? It would have been treasonous to even entertain these notions not too long ago. The whole ethic was who can go longest, who can go hardest, who can stay up all night, double shifts … who can burn at both ends brightest.”
Bourdain also noted that addiction is not uncommon in the culinary industry — and he was not an exception. He candidly spoke in various interviews through the years and in his bestselling 2000 memoir, Kitchen Confidential, about his past with alcohol, cocaine, heroin and LSD, among other drugs.
“[People would] come up to me at readings and hand me bags of coke,” he told First We Feast. “I’m like, ‘Did you read the book? The drug thing didn’t end too well for me.’ … I understood that at that point in my life, I was disappointing people who would come up to me at bars, line cooks fresh from work, ‘Let’s party, let’s do some tequila shots.’ And then they’d get angry that I wouldn’t do a tequila shot, because if I did a tequila shot with every line cook who wants to come up and high-five me, I understand what will happen. I want to live. I wanted people to know that, that I’m not that guy.”
But just 17 days before what would have been his 62nd birthday, Bourdain was found dead in his hotel room in Strasbourg, France, where he was working on an upcoming episode of Parts Unknown. CNN reported that the cause of death was suicide by hanging.
If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).