Anthony Bourdain was NOT a nice person. I know several people who have known and worked with him for decades. Pre- and post-fame, sober and strung out on heroin. And they all have said that his television persona was a complete act. In reality, the terms most often used to describe him were, “Prick” and “Asshole”. Bourdain exhibited all the unprofessional behaviors in the kitchen, and when others were accused of the same he wagged his own finger at them. This automatic conveyance of sainthood upon anyone’s death – regardless of their actual behavior in life – mystifies me.
I dined at Les Halles in NYC a few times, and would not classify his cooking as masterful or creative. He was a dime-a-dozen talented line cook at best, and became one of those “celebrity chefs” (which is truly not a positive statement) because of his book and persona. And while I found his first book entertaining and enlightening, he became a self-professed expert on everything – politics, religion, clowns, you name it. The transition from talented entertainer to pretentious jerk was swift. A Japanese friend of ours (and owner of a much-lauded restaurant) was extremely offended by his dictates on “the only right way to eat sushi.” Her comment was that a round-eye Heroin addict has no authority to make pronouncements on Japanese tradition – and that he was dead wrong.
There hasn’t been any mention yet of a note, so perhaps he chose not to share the reason for his suicide. Toxicology result will be interesting – one person who worked with him said, “Tony was never off heroin.” Another believes it might have been auto-erotic asphyxiation gone wrong. Truth will come out in the end, I’m sure.