Eric Ripert is reflecting on the loss of his friend, Anthony Bourdain. The famed chef was in the midst of filming a Parts Unknown episode with Bourdain in France at the time of his death by suicide on June 8, reportedly finding the TV host’s body in his hotel room.
“He was funny and witty and at the same time, knowledgeable about food. Very kind and complimentary to what we were doing,” Ripert told Esquire of his first encounter with the future Parts Unknown host, which occurred not long after Bourdain’s memoir, Kitchen Confidential, was released. “I was very surprised, he had very good manners at the table. He was not this bad boy that I was picturing from the book. And after the meal, we decided that we would see each other for a drink.”
From there, a “long friendship” began, and as Bourdain carved out a unique space for himself in the world of travel television, Ripert was often by his side. In fact, Ripert made about a dozen appearances on every Bourdain show from the short-lived Cook’s Tour to No Reservations and Parts Unknown over the course of nearly two decades. The series finale of Parts Unknown aired on Sunday, November 11.
“He was a dear friend, and in life, we don’t have too many good friends. I miss him tremendously,” Ripert revealed. “He has been a tremendous inspiration in my life.”
That’s partially why Ripert now wants to make sure people remember Bourdain as more than just a TV host. “He wanted people to be curious, adventurous, and obviously, ultimately educated,” Ripert told the outlet, adding he believes his pal “succeeded in his vision.”
Still, Ripert indicates he was as surprised by Bourdain’s suicide as the rest of the world, noting Bourdain was already preparing for another season of Parts Unknown at the time of his death. “His goal was to do many more seasons,” Ripert declared.
“He has changed the way we see the world. He has changed the way television covers travel shows and food shows,” Ripert remembered. “Who would have known what happened in Congo or in Libya except through his eyes? He was giving a voice to people. His show was not a food show. It was not a travel show. It was much bigger than that. All of this, I think, it’s something that will never be forgotten.”
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).
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